It is a joy to read some of the early writings of saints that have gone on before us. A few days ago I ran across this little piece by St. Francis de Sales—a bit of commentary on 1 Samuel 19 when Michal used a ruse to protect David from Saul. She put a statue in his bed, covered with his clothes and some goat hair, and told those coming to take his life that he was sick (why that would keep them from taking his life, I’m unsure). St. Francis de Sales says:
In the same manner, many persons clothe themselves with certain outward actions connected with holy devotion and the world believes they are truly devout and spiritual whereas they are in fact nothing but copies and phantoms of devotion.1
Wow. Talk about calling people out! But, how often is this true of me? I put on a good show of being devout—but I am such a sinner.
That’s where a blog by Chris Martin comes in. Martin, in his blog entry “Let’s Truly Live As If We Believe the Bible” talks about how we “do something stupid and mope around for several days thinking God is mad at you.” Then he asks, “Where, in the Bible, do we find the instructions for such actions?”
The truth is, we don’t. Martin suggest, when tempted to sin, we say something like, “This is not me. Flesh, you already died. You have no say in my life. God, I thank you for what You did for me on the Cross. I praise You because You see me as Your son. Righteous and pure in Your sight.”
These are words I can not get enough of—I beat myself up too much.
I may be a “phantom of devotion” at times, but I don’t have to stay there; that’s not where I live. Unlike Michal’s statue, I can get up and claim my sonship and praise my Creator.
1from Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales