Walking into the Spider’s Web

Looking out my office window today there is a leaf caught in an unseen thread of a spider’s web. I’ve known the spider’s been there for a while, there is a funnel web outside the window that leads to the corner of the sill.  What I didn’t know is how far out the web reached.  This fine, gossamer web is able to keep hold of the leaf, regardless of the wind that makes it spin and pull at its restraint.

It reminds me that this is the time of year when I will inevitably walk into a spider’s web.  This is what I look like when that happens:

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There is no dignified response when you walk into a web.  It’s a mad dance of fury, an unlooked for exercise in futility.  You spend the rest of the day pulling webbing off of your face, just wondering when the spider’s going to crawl over your shoulder. Fortunately, we have more strength than the leaf caught in the web in my window, we can, eventually, break free.

But not from every web.  “Sin is crouching at the door,” it is waiting to devour you. Sin lies in waiting with hidden snares and webs that will bind up your soul in its destructive hold.

Quite often, we never see it coming.  The temptations of the web are subtle, enticing, or otherwise so imperceptible, that when we do finally notice, its too late.  We chase that momentary thought of self-pity and entitlement to its natural end and we are day-dreaming of vengeance and selfishness.  We catch a glimpse of something from the corner of the eye and an hour later we’re watching something with no redeeming value.  We say we only “share because we care,” but in reality we enjoy being the source of gossip and sought out by others.

The problem is, sin has such a hold on us we cannot break free.  Like Frodo bound in Shelob’s web, we are incapacitated and unable to help ourselves.

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No matter how much you struggle, once entangled in sin, you cannot get free.  Every effort simply makes the binding even tighter.

The good news is this: Christ breaks the power of cancelled sin.  By his atoning work on the cross, Jesus has not only cancelled the power of sin in your life by taking the guilt and wrath you rightly deserved upon himself, he also has set you free from sin’s power to reign over you.

Psalm 31:3-5 says, “You are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”

By faith in Jesus Christ, you have been set free from the entangling web of sin, and hidden in the refuge, the fortress, the rock!  By his word and Spirit, Christ leads you and guides you in righteousness for his name’s sake.  Commit yourself to him, for he is faithful, and will keep you from stumbling.

SDG

God gives grace to the humble…

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”
(1 Peter 5:5)

As I prepare for this Sunday’s message from 1 Peter 5:1-5, I realize that there’s just not enough time to go into full detail on everything that is touched upon in this passage.  The final point that Peter makes, urging all to humility in their relationships with one another, is a vital aspect of our life together as the body of Christ.  In all honesty, this one verse could occupy an entire series of sermons on what it means to be humble, how and why God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, and how humility is demonstrated in the life of faith.  That series isn’t in the works, yet, but perhaps it should be.

In the midst of study on this passage, I read again a prayer from the Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.  I’ve shared prayers from this collection before. I’ve even read them in worship on occasion.  The prayer I read today is called “Humility in Service.”  It’s written primarily for the Elder in service of the church, but could be applied to everyone who aspires to serve the Lord in faithfulness.

The prayer, as with most of the Puritan Prayers, is devastating in its candor and vulnerability, and is absolutely Christ-centered in its hope.  I offer it to your for prayer and reflection today.

Humility in Service *

Mighty God,

I humble myself for faculties misused,
opportunities neglected, words ill-advised,

I repent of my folly and inconsiderate ways,
my broken resolutions, untrue service,
my backsliding steps, my vain thoughts.

O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood
and let no evil result from my fretful temper,
unseemly behavior, provoking bitterness.

If by unkindness I have wounded or hurt another,
do thou pour in the balm of heavenly consolation;

If I have turned cold from need, misery, grief,
do not in just anger forsake me;

If I have withheld relief because of my poverty and pain,
do not withhold thy gracious bounty from me;

If I have shunned those who have offended me,
keep open the door of thy heart to my need.

Fill me with an over-flowing ocean of compassion,
the reign of love my motive, the law of love my rule.

O thou God of all grace, make me more thankful, more humble;

Inspire me with a deep sense of my unworthiness
arising from the depravity of my nature,
my omitted duties, my unimproved advantages,
thy commands violated by me.

With all my calls to gratitude and joy
may I remember that I have reason for sorrow and humiliation;

O give me repentance unto life;

Cement my oneness with my blessed Lord,
that faith may adhere to him more immovably,
that love may entwine itself round him more tightly,
that his Spirit may pervade every fibre of my being.

Then send me out to make him known to my fellow-men.

Amen

* Bennet, Arthur. The Valley of Vision (The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, 2009) Pg. 178.