Screwtape offers ways to cleverly exploit the Patient’s dry spell:
But there is an even better way of exploiting the trough; I mean through the patient’s own thoughts about it. As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind. Do not let him suspect the law of undulation. Let him assume that the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition. Having once got this misconception well fixed in his head, you may then proceed in various ways. It all depends on whether your man is of the desponding type who can be tempted to despair, or of the wishful-thinking type who can be assured that all is well. The former type is getting rare among the humans. If your patient should happen to belong to it, everything is easy. You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians (an easy task nowadays), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things’. If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point’, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.
From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
The Remedy for Pride
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13–16)
James is talking about pride and arrogance and how they show up in subtle ways. “You boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
When you take three categories of temptation to self-reliance — wisdom, power, and riches — they form a powerful inducement toward the ultimate form of pride; namely, atheism. The safest way for us to stay supreme in our own estimation is to deny anything above us.
This is why the proud preoccupy themselves with looking down on others. C.S. Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you” (Mere Christianity).
But to preserve pride, it may be simpler to just proclaim that there is nothing above to look at. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4). Ultimately, the proud must persuade themselves that there is no God.
One reason for this is that God’s reality is overwhelmingly intrusive in all the details of life. Pride cannot tolerate the intimate involvement of God in running the universe, let alone the detailed, ordinary affairs of life.
Pride does not like the sovereignty of God. Therefore, pride does not like the existence of God, because God is sovereign. It might express this by saying, “There is no God.” Or it might express it by saying, “I am driving to Atlanta for Christmas.”
James says, “Don’t be so sure.” Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and we will get to Atlanta for Christmas.”
James’s point is that God rules over whether you get to Atlanta, and whether you live to the end of this devotional. This is extremely offensive to the self-sufficiency of pride — not even to have control over whether you get to the end of the devotional without having a stroke!
James says that not believing in the sovereign rights of God to manage the details of your future is arrogance.
The way to battle this arrogance is to yield to the sovereignty of God in all the details of life, and rest in his infallible promises to show himself mighty on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9), to pursue us with goodness and mercy every day (Psalm 23:6), to work for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4), and to equip us with all we need to live for his glory (Hebrews 13:21).
In other words, the remedy for pride is unwavering faith in God’s sovereign future grace.
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
1 Corinthians 16:2, NIV
In the Old Testament, tithes were required which supported the work of the temple. Israel was a theocracy, meaning the religious and civil governments were the same. So tithes were required in the same way that modern taxes support civil governments. In the New Testament, however, there are no explicit instructions regarding the continuation of the tithe. Instead, giving was (and continues to be) based on generosity, thankfulness, and proportionality.
Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 16:16-17
Those foundations were also present in the Old Testament. When the first tabernacle was built in the wilderness the people gave willingly—so much that Moses sent out an order: “No more gifts! You have given more than we need!” (See Exodus 35:20-29; 36:6-7.) That willingness and generosity underlies giving in the New Testament: “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Once the gift of God’s grace became understood in the New Testament, giving responsively, in imitation of God’s giving, became the guideline.
If giving by law was a tithe, how much more should giving by grace be?
Are you giving God what is right, or what is left?
Read through the Bible: Exodus 5 – 7
Authentic Faith Is Eager for Christ to Come
By John Piper
Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
What must you do so that you may know that your sins are taken away by the blood of Christ, and that, when he comes, he will shield you from the wrath of God and bring you into eternal life? The answer is this: Trust Christ in a way that makes you eager for him to come.
The text says he is coming to save those who are “eagerly waiting for him.” So how do you get ready? How do you experience the forgiveness of God in Christ and prepare to meet him? By trusting him in a way that makes you eager for him to come.
This eager expectation for Christ is simply a sign that we love him and believe in him — really believe in him, authentically.
There is a phony faith that wants only escape from hell, but has no desire for Christ. That kind of faith does not save. It does not produce an eager expectation for Christ to come. In fact, it would rather that Christ not come for as long as possible, so that it can have as much of this world as possible.
But the faith that really holds on to Christ as Savior and Lord and Treasure and hope and joy is the faith that makes us long for Christ to come. And that is the faith that saves.
So I urge you, turn from the world, and from sin. Turn to Christ. Receive him, welcome him, embrace Christ not just as your fire insurance policy, but as your eagerly awaited Treasure and Friend and Lord.