The Sultan and Satan

A Lesson for all!

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An ancient legend from the East tells how a great Sultan–who was known for being a devout man of God–overslept and didn’t awaken at the hour of prayer. When the Devil saw that the hour was passing, he came and waked him, urging him to get out of bed and pray.

“Who are you?” said the startled Sultan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Oh, it’s not important.” replied the shady figure. “The important thing is that I woke you up in time! Otherwise you would have missed your prayers for the first time in ten years!–And it IS very good to pray, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that is true!” replied the Sultan smugly. “I wouldn’t dream of missing my prayer time.–Not even ONCE!

“But wait a minute! I think I recognise you. Yes, I know your face. Of course, you are Satan, and no doubt you have some evil motive for your appearance.”

“I’m not really as bad as you think!” exclaimed the intruder. “After all, I was an angel once.”

“That is all very well,” replied the wise old Sultan, “but you are the Deceiver, THAT is your business! So I demand in the name of God to know WHY you, of all people, want me to get up and pray!”

“Well,” huffed the Devil, having grown impatient with the Sultan’s persistence, “if you must know, I’ll tell you. If you had slept and forgotten your prayers, you would have felt very SORRY for it afterward, and would have been quite PENITENT. But if you continue on as you have, without missing a single prayer for ten years, then you will become so SATISFIED with yourSELF that it will be worse for you than if you had missed one and had repented of it, asking God for forgiveness! God loves your FAULT mixed with PENITENCE much more than your VIRTUE seasoned with PRIDE!”

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What an important lesson this old story imparts. Often it is actually GOOD for us to make mistakes! If we didn’t make some mistakes, we’d most likely become so proud of ourselves and self-confident, that we’d no longer feel we needed God nor the help of others. But in reality, when we feel so PROUD and SELF-satisfied, it is because we are NOT closer to GOD, but closer to OURSELVES!

Of course, in this modern World of today many people are taught to believe that pride is quite a virtue.–But in GOD’S eyes, pride and self-righteousness are recognised for what they really are–SINS of the heart! In fact, the Bible says that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall!…and God RESISTS the PROUD, but He gives GRACE unto the HUMBLE” (Proverbs 16:5,18; James 4:6)

Quite frequently, the way God helps us keep our pride in check is through our MISTAKES, which serve to keep us humble and broken, more needy of the Lord’s help and more dependent on HIS strength and not our own. It may surprise you to know that the Lord even WANTS us to fail in some things so that we don’t get to thinking too highly of ourselves, thinking that we are so perfect!

Out of what seems like defeat come some of God’s greatest victories!–“Victories? But what kind of victory is that?” you may ask. Well, God very often uses humiliating experiences to make of you a better person, more compassionate and understanding of the errors of others, more loving and patient, when otherwise you might not have been so.

Isn’t it encouraging to realise that your failures can be looked on as something positive, to see them from a positive viewpoint?–Not as though the Lord were merely trying to crush you to the ground, but that He’s using your mistakes to teach you many important lessons that perhaps you would not learn otherwise WITHOUT such humbling!

Of course, in order to do this, we must be honest with ourselves and willing to confess our mistakes and attempt to rectify them. But as they say, the hardest words in any language are, “I was wrong!” And the hardest one to CONFESS our faults to is usually OURSELVES. This takes humility of the kind that only God can give, because it is the inborn sinful nature of man to want to appear perfect and faultless, and consequently he becomes unable to confess his mistakes.

But if we want the truth, and we desire God’s blessing, then we’ll honestly and humbly admit and confess our faults and failings, taking comfort in knowing that we are wiser today than we were yesterday. Contrary to what some folks think, an admission of error is a sign of strength rather than a confession of weakness!

Besides, God knows you’re anything but perfect. In fact, He knows you CAN’T be perfect and will NEVER be perfect. So the crux of the matter is NOT whether you are perfect or not, but if you depend on the LORD totally, trusting in HIM and HIS grace and His Love and mercy. Do you give HIM all the glory and credit for anything GOOD that you do? Whenever you accomplish something good, do you say, “Just thank JESUS, don’t thank me!–If I have done anything good, it’s only because of the Lord’s help!”

A good rule to follow is to give GOD all the glory for anything GOOD you do, and yourself the blame for anything BAD. And it will help keep you from falling into that horrible trap of self-righteous PRIDE, which is the BASIS of virtually ALL SIN!

So whenever you make a mistake and are tempted to get down and discouraged, just remember what was said to that Sultan: “God loves your FAULT mixed with PENITENCE, more than your VIRTUE seasoned with PRIDE!”

PRAYER: Lord, help us to realise that even our mistakes are good for us. Help us to be honest with ourselves and others about our faults and shortcomings. We confess that without You we are nothing (John 15:5). Help us not to fight Your breakings and remakings, which actually help us to become more yielded, more humble and most of all, more useful for Your service. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

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Author: Frederick Olson

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

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