August 13 I Thursday
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” —Galatians 5:25-26
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we start to enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. But in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he warns that as we experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in our life, watch that our heart does not become conceited, provoking and envying.
The word “conceited” means, “having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s self.” When we become conceited, we start to look down on others, thinking more highly of ourselves. Our conceitedness may lead to provoking, which means, “to challenge someone, to call someone out, to look to take someone down.” Some of us may have encountered a believer that likes to provoke others: a person who is so full of theology and convinced of the truth that they have learned, that they have a fire hose of theology, needing to prove their superiority to us. This is why Paul warns, as the Holy Spirit is at work in our life, watch that it does not lead to us to become conceited, where we are provoking others, looking for confrontation and wanting to shove our faith on someone in a manner that is overwhelming.
While conceit and provocation look down on people, envy looks up in jealousy. Envy looks at other and becomes jealous or resentful. Envy does not celebrate what is given; rather, it constantly compares itself in a group setting to others, becoming desirous of what it has not been given.
Whereas provoking looks down in superiority, envy looks up from a position of inferiority. If provokers like to confront and challenge others, enviers like to avoid confrontation at all costs. Although these two actions may be different, they are two sides of the same coin, because the reality of these two expressions is that self is on the throne. They are both equally destructive since they are looking at their own value by comparing it to the other.
But when we look to the gospel, it is the great levelling field because it reminds us that while we are more sinful than we ever dared imagine, we are more accepted and loved than we ever dared imagine. This is why Paul writes, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14). Instead of comparing, the gospel produces humility. Someone once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” We have been set free from worrying what others think about us and free from trying to impress others. Christ has liberated us from all of that. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can let go of comparison.
Prayer: Gracious God, I admit there are times when I have been conceited of self, provoking others, and envying what I do not have. Thank You that Your gospel is a levelling field that sets me free from comparing to others. Praise You!