July 18, 2007

Too Much Honey

It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory. Proverbs 25.27

That’s a great proverb, isn’t it? Some of us (myself included) would learn a lot if we just got the first eight words down pat! But the rest of the verse has something to say to us, too! In the same way that too much honey (or sugar, ice cream, pizza, pop, etc.) is not such a good thing…it is equally lethargizing (yes I made that word up) to spend too long surveying your own successes. It is not glorious, or even helpful, to “search out one’s own glory.” It is not helpful to sit on the deck, admiring your perfectly manicured lawn. It is not helpful to sit at your desk, like Ebenezer Scrooge, counting and recounting your money. It is not helpful, young people, to look to long in the mirror. And it is not helpful to constantly check and recheck your webstats to see how many people are reading your blog (ouch)!

Now, as we saw last week in Habakkuk, it is appropriate to remember the victories God has won in and through you. A good memory of the mighty deeds of God in the past goes a long way toward giving hope that He will do it again in the future. So a healthy memory is good. But that is not what Solomon is speaking of here.

Solomon is warning against searching out one’s own glory. There is a big difference between searching out one’s own glory…and remembering the goodness of God. One leads to pride, the other to thankfulness. One produces complacency, the other energy to keep walking with Christ. So yes, remember victories that have been won…but remember that the Lord is the one who won them, not you!

Furthermore, Solomon’s warning is against searching out one’s own glory. There is appropriateness in enjoying a job well-done. There is a time to look at the flower-box you just built and be happy about a project completed. But the problem, for some of us, is that we linger in that realm of self-satisfaction. We don’t simply notice our glory. We revel in it. We point it out to others (or at least put them in the way to point it out to us!). And, when a little time has passed, we are tempted to “search out” our glory—to rehash it, to re-admire it, to remind ourselves of how well we did, or how smart we are, or how hard we worked. This continual self-congratulation is what Solomon says weighs down the soul—like eating too much for lunch on a hot day.

David knew what it was like to “search out one’s own glory” (1 Chronicles 21.1-3). God had made him king of Israel. He knew he was a great man. And he knew that Israel was a great nation. But it wasn’t enough for him to simply notice these things. He had to search them out, to rehash. So, in his pride, he ordered a census…a little reminder of just how much he had accomplished. And he paid dearly for it (21.14).

So, when things are going well, remember: It is “not glory to search out one’s own glory.” For “I am the LORD” says our God. “I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42.8).

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