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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “What About Discord?”
In this episode, Twilight Sparkle spends a three-day weekend doing a stay-at-home activity, only to emerge afterward and discover that the rest of her friends have been having a great time with Discord and without her in a series of events she missed out on. On hearing the amount of good memories and laughs her friends had, it isn’t long before she starts to regret having missed out on it and, even more so, grows a bit jealous that Discord and her friends had such a great time that she didn’t get to participate in.
However, her big problem as a result of this is not in being jealous in and of itself but refusing to admit she was jealous. As a result, it leads her to a series of unfortunate mishaps in which she first tries to get Discord and her friends to relive the weekend’s events with her present to experience them firsthand (under the guise of calling it valuable friendship lesson research), and then later to actually accuse the girls of having been “mind-trolled” into only thinking they had a good time. As a result of the second act, she not only made a fool out of herself but also ended up insulting her friends for even suggesting it.
And all for one reason: inability to admit her true feelings. Inability, and unwillingness, to admit she was jealous.
There are many things in the world that keep us bound to sin or from improving ourselves, but one of the big culprits is not being honest with ourselves. At the bare minimum, most of us, Christian or non-Christian, likely get into a rut about certain behaviors. We develop bad habits or unhealthy tendencies for one reason or another, and then we never bother to examine ourselves at some point to see if it’s really the best thing for us. Yet in a worse situation, we may recognize that something is bad for us and yet we refuse to change.
Take, for example, someone who has a problem with anger issues. Perhaps someone is always blowing up at other people and things for no real reason. Let’s say it gets chronic enough to where the individual is disrupting others and his own life, and is in need of professional help to resolve it.Yet this individual may never get it. Perhaps he claims that he doesn’t really have a problem. Perhaps he tries to brush off his worst incidents because it’s too difficult to deal with. Or perhaps he says something we’ve all said before: “all of this stuff keeps making me angry”…in spite of the fact that nothing can physically make us feel anything. Only we can make ourselves feel one way or another.
Or consider an individual who constantly puts down others and points out their faults and shortcomings. No matter the place or event in question, this person points out what’s wrong with what someone there was doing and how silly/dumb/thoughtless they were for doing it, until it reaches the point where others feel insulted around him and don’t want to associate with him any longer. I know someone like this, and the truth is it’s their own self esteem that is lacking. He doesn’t feel good about himself, so the only way to feel better is to insult others…point out how bad they all are so that he can feel better by comparison. Yet as bad behavior as this is, he refuses to admit there’s anything wrong with himself personally. And so the negative behavior continues.
I hardly need to mention other problems such as people with addictions, affairs, habitual vices or sins, or simply bad dispositions and self-destructive behaviors. In all these cases, people have either made themselves blind to the problem they have or have convinced themselves they don’t have a problem at all. In the extreme case, this leads to a situation called “cognitive dissonance”, in which a person has mentally broke themselves off from considering their own behavior and attitude and is now blind to their own need to change.
Biblically speaking, a good example is King Saul in the Old Testament. He too grew jealous of his servant David when he heard the people praising him for his victories more than they did for his own. David himself was perfectly loyal and considered it a privilege to be in the service of the Lord’s Anointed. Yet Saul, refusing to admit his jealous, instead began to stew over it in his mind that David was somehow seeking to seize power from him and overthrow him, and his obsession with this and failure to come face-to-face with his own jealousy eventually caused him to murder innocent people and ironically self-fulfill the prophecy of losing his kingdom to David.
Yet David himself fared little better. On his part, he gave into his lust for Bathsheba, and he ended up not only committing adultery but killing one of his own closest followers in order to try and cover it up. He had so deluded himself into not facing his own sin that even when Nathan the Prophet came forward and confronted him with an allegory for his own case, he failed to see that it was he that the prophet was talking about and condemned himself by his own words in pronouncing judgment on this “fictional” case. (2 Samuel 12:1-12) Both of these examples illustrate the ultimate result of trying to “run and hide” from one’s own feelings and sin; and how it’s far worse than admitting it. For when it does come out, the consequences are far worse than they would have been confessing at the onset.
Jesus performed many miracles and acts of healing throughout the Gospels, but one of the key things that many scholars have noticed is that He never “forced Himself” on anyone. He let people come to Him, and He asked what they wished of Him. He asked if the person wanted to be made well. In other words, He didn’t heal anyone unless they admitted they were sick and were in need of healing. He never turned anyone away who did, but they had to make the first step.
In the same way as physical ailments, a person cannot be healed of spiritual or emotional ailments, even by Jesus, unless they first admit they need healing. “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?'” (John 5:6) This is one reason the early Christians encouraged people to be honest with themselves and to bring their “secret” things “into the light”. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead,and Christ will shine on you.'” (Ephesians 5:11-14) Only when a person is honest with themselves can they receive healing.
And just like in Jesus’ day, one of the major reasons people aren’t honest with themselves is because they are ashamed. They feel other people will see them as less or that their own religious communities will see them as less, and as a result God will see them as less and disapprove of them. Yet Jesus always embraced sinners when they came to Him, because He, like God, already knew everything about them, past, present, and future, and accepted them anyway. It was never people who admitted they had done wrong who were shunned by Him; only those who claimed to be perfect and refused to acknowledge their own sin. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’ Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'” (John 9:39-41)
In the same way, if we are suffering from an addiction, recurring sin, or personal problem, we’ll never be over it unless we first admit what we are contributing to it and are honest with ourselves; taking a brutal (perhaps painful) look at our own situation and seeing what we are doing wrong so that we know what needs to change and/or be confessed to receive forgiveness.
Remember, the only person who can ultimately change you is you. Therefore, if there is a flaw in your character or lifestyle, it’s also your responsibility to do something about it.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your blessed assurance that you already know me inside and out, past, present, and future, with all my flaws and faults and love me regardless and desire me to come to you. With this in mind, help me to be strong enough to face myself and all of my own flaws and faults, confront them, confess them, and thereby resolve them and obtain not only forgiveness but grow as an individual. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”