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I’m an Addict. Lord, Kick my Habit!

Let no those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause;
let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.
They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.
They gape at me and say, “Aha! Aha!

With our own eyes we have seen it.” Psalm 35:19-21, NIV1984

     I have an addiction. More often than I’d like to admit, I battle with approval addiction. I used to justify it by preaching that I’m just “chief reputation officer of myself”. Within moments of opening a conversation with me, you’re likely to hear any number of statements that explain or defend my character. Jon Ortberg calls it “impression management”, things like “I would never…” and “I normally don’t…” We all have a tendency to guard against being misrepresented by what’s unspoken or mischaracterized by others’ perceptions of us. Unchecked, it becomes and all encompassing addiction inextricably glued to us by the powerful adhesive forces of social media.

     A year or two ago, I had to make a few radical choices to solve a very unique set of problems that were facing us. We’re pretty sure the God gave us the solutions because a) they were incredibly effective and b) neither of us would normally have thought so far outside the box in our own strength. Recently, some friends of ours learned about what I did and made vague comments in disapproval. My ego felt bruised and feared my reputation was tarnished, at least in their eyes.

     Ever felt misrepresented? Ever felt like you just needed to issue a public statement to clear your name of some misperception, gossip, or worse, lie about you? Ever felt like there’s a person or people watching your worst move(s), just waiting to say “Aha!!!”? Ever felt like writing an open letter or posting a well-sharpened retort on Facebook designed to bring your enemies to shame and clear your name in one fell-swoop?

     King David – the anointed of the Lord – was plagued by scandal in his rule, even before he ever came to power. Psalm 35 was likely written when he was being pursued by Saul. So, it is before he could have leveraged the resources of the Kingdom of Israel to defend his good name. However, his response to the scandal, the “Aha”‘s and the “GOTCHA”s is no less correct:

“…rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, O Lord my God’ do not let them gloat over me. (Psalm 35:23-24)”

Be Encouraged

     Even the great ruler of Israel had “Gotchas” after him. You and I have Gotchas after us. Learning the difference between control over our reputation vs. influence on our reputation is a crucial step toward the peace of God. Holding onto control is a sure sign of addiction. Submitting to God in this area offers freedom and recovery from addiction that can’t be found anywhere else.

     Are you addicted to approval? Are you “cautious about your reputation” (addicted to approval)? Are you bitter with your accusers? One day, we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) and the truth of what you have done or haven’t done will be aired in front of the Lord. Fighting for your reputation is often fighting against the Lord. What peace might we find if we surrendered our reputation (and vindication) to the Lord now, instead of waiting for the judgment seat to come?

Monday Morning Momentum Minute

 5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
   “God opposes the proud
  but gives grace to the humble.”
 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

     Lately, I’ve had opportunity to talk with a lot of people about the enormity of God and how often and easily we minimize how big He really is. When I minimize who God is, I by default magnify who I am and sin is just the natural outpouring of this arrogance. I just “had” to finish an article I was writing and “had” to get some research done on another project I’m working on, so I stayed in the office a bit longer, denying my kids some Daddy time and my wife the break she needed from a long day. Not a sin that shows up in the 10 Commandments very easily, but on second glance, I’ve broken the first and 6th commandments.

     When my agenda trumps the godly order of my responsibilities as a husband and father, my priorities are out of whack. When the Holy Spirit sets off my “Spider Sense” telling me I’m spending time at work that was meant for my wife, I’m committing, on some level, adultery.

     But, that’s just me – what about you?

     How do you do when that alarm goes of in your head that tells you you’re doing something wrong? Do you listen to it or do you bow up with pride and allow your agenda to be bigger and more important than the God who created the universe and paints history on a canvas larger than space and time? How’s that workin for ya? Do you, too, get anxious because there’s not enough time to complete your all important task, so you’re tempted to rob Father Time to protect your agenda? Humility… Submission… the result – care.

     Today, pray for me – that I dig deeper into the fact that God gives us the antidote to His opposition – humility. Today, be encouraged, while you may have drunk the same poison of pride, the very same antidote is available to you.

Walk in freedom. Walk in repentance.

in Christ,

AP