A Closer Look

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All of us are born with what St. Augustine called a God-shaped hole. Paul says in Galatians 5:26: “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” From the Greek that word conceited it is better defined as to be “empty of glory.” 


So not only are we born as fallen people with a void to worship, but we can also take such actions that would further empty us from glory. Paul warns us that this can happen both by provoking and envying each other. 


“Provoking” is comparing yourself to another in an aggressive way to feel superior, while “envying” is comparing yourself to another to resent it and feel inferior. One of these two tendencies is bound to happen if you get any bit of your identity by those around you. You’ll feel good because you’re smarter than those in your family or you’ll feel bad because you make less money than your friends.


The key is not to become conceited, but as the previous verse reminds us, since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. In other words, our worth should come from God, being validated as His child. This and only this will fill the God-shaped hole.