Our culture has a widespread sickness. It goes by several different names; entitlement; instant gratification; the "I deserve ______" complex, just to name a few. This sickness is easy to recognize in other people's lives, but somehow sneaks into our own more discreetly.
This summer as we have studied through Philippians with the camp staff, we have particularly focused on chapter two and the example of humility in Christ. The Lord has exposed a strain of that same sickness in my life; its name is Pride. Pride is an ugly word, and an even uglier character trait.
As I have been studying in Corinthians in my own personal devotions, the Lord drew my attention to II Corinthians chapter 3, and particularly verse 5: "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."
Two questions came to mind through which the Lord exposed areas of Pride in my life. As you read them and some of the examples I give from my own life, I would encourage you to examine your own heart through these same questions.
1: How do I try to be self-sufficient?
- I don't like asking for help, even when I obviously need it.
- I often respond badly to correction.
- I go through entire days/weeks without praying intentionally & confessing my need for God.
- I often give scripture-less counsel.
- I don't often live in a way that actually requires faith; I live carefully inside my own resources & abilities.
- I search for solutions to problems within myself, then talk to others about it, then if the problem is still there, then I'll pray about it.
- I interact with others as though I am the one who can change them.
- I guard the things I'm good at and I am unwilling to serve in areas that expose my weaknesses.
2: What do I claim as coming from myself?
- Often I take pride in my knowledge of scripture, as if the desire for things of God came from within me.
- I claim any kind act I do as coming from me rather than God's work in my life to be more like Christ in loving others.
- Anything thing I've "earned"
The lists are far more extensive than these, but too complex to explain in a blog post as my flesh loves to deceive me into claiming any good thing as coming from me. But as Paul reminds us in Romans 7, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." Any good thing that comes from me is only the result of God's mercy in my life & the work of His Holy Spirit. And any good thing that comes to me, I am not entitled to; I did not earn it; I do not deserve it. As I Corinthians 4:7 asks, "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"
Without the mercy of God and the work of Christ in my life, I am spiritually destitute.
Agreeing with God about our true state leaves very little room for pride. Cultivating a thankful heart leaves very little room for pride.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.-Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV