I remember in my teens, twenties, and even into my early thirties, when the minister would begin to preach a sermon on "Pride", I took that as my cue and my invitation to tune out. After all, I didn't think I had a problem with pride. I tended not to boast. In general, I wasn't rude, haughty, or obnoxious. If anything I was insecure, but not prideful. I was the "poster child" for being a people pleaser. I really didn't think that I had a problem with pride.
Funny thing with pride - when you think that you don't have a problem with it, that's usually when you do. Pride is sneaky. The enemy uses it in his arsenal to isolate and separate us from God. I would like to be open and honest and share with you some of the areas of my life in which I have wrestled with pride. Perhaps one or more will resonate with you, and if I can spare you the time and expense of recreating the wheel, then my efforts will not have been in vain.
Pride ironically sounds a lot like the word "pry". I have seen that God has had to "pry" my clenched fists off something or someone I was holding onto much too tightly.
Pride does this...it takes hold and it doesn't let go.
From early on, I lived in performance mode. My life was about achievement, accomplishment, earning, and striving. I wasn't just in organizations, no, I had to be chairman, captain, vice-president, leader. Much like when my kids were toddlers, I wanted to be able to point to something...some achievement...and say, "MINE!!"
One might ask where my "life arrow" pointed? It certainly wasn't pointed toward God. It was pointed right back at me...pride. To this day, for example, I will look at the stats for my blog. I see a wide global readership and there's still a part of me that wants to grab it in my fist, hold it up and say, "Look what I did!" I am getting better at giving credit where credit is due and you know what? There is a peace in unclenching my fist and being able to say...
"It's not about what I've done, but about what God is doing through me."
When God gets the glory...I get joy!
Pride gets caught up in the "doing", whereas humility is found in the "being".
For example...I am learning that, to be loved, I don't have to be anything other than God's daughter.
I grew up in Sunday School learning about how Jesus died for my sins. I knew, in my head, that it was His doing, not mine.
Working out our salvation does NOT mean having to earn our salvation.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was finished. The price had been paid. Somehow though, I kept on striving to earn God's good pleasure. By serving in multiple ways in the church and striving to be good, and righteous, and perfect, I was in essence saying that what Jesus did on my behalf wasn't enough. I still needed to add to what He had done. That notion is only one thing...pride.
Once again, God was prying my fist off my "earned" salvation and humbling my prideful heart.
This same notion that I gotta do it myself worked its way over to guilt as well. Again, I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I found that I was beating myself over the head with my own guilt stick. I would replay conversations in my mind that I knew were wrong and I would chastise myself. In some kind of warped act of atonement I would continue to beat myself up for things I had done wrong. In a weird way I thought this honored God that I took his commands so seriously.
In actuality it was the same villain - pride again. By doing this I was, in effect saying that what Christ did was not enough, that I...the great "I" had yet to do something more. I was missing the point that Christ came, not to condemn, but to set us free.
When the emphasis is on me...that's pride. When the emphasis is on Jesus...that's humility.
Finger by finger, God was prying my clenched fist open.
Lately, I've been praying and researching how to make Redeemer Christian School a registered 501c3 non-profit without costing a boatload of money which we don't have. I know it would certainly help with fundraising efforts.
Recently a friend from college, who actively supports RCS, said that perhaps she could help me in this area since she had the experience of starting her own non-profit organization. I was elated to hear this news and my heart was light that day with a glimmer of hope, but then this nagging frustrated feeling slowly crept in. I wondered what on earth was my problem? Hadn't I just been praying about this?
There it was again...pride. The pride of self-sufficiency or the idea that I can do this all on my own runs deep in me. I was kind of upset with myself that I hadn't been able to figure this out on my own and I was going to have to rely and depend on someone else.
If the words "rely" and "depend" take on a negative connotation to you...chances are good that pride has snuck in.
To be so totally self-sufficient that we don't allow ourselves to rely or depend upon others - to rob them of contributing their God-given gifts - is not only silly, it also reeks of...you got it...pride.
I have grown, by God's grace, from a very "self-sufficient" relationship apart from God to one where I so rely and depend on Him that I know I can't do life without Him. In peeling away these layers of pride, God has given me a peace, a security, and a freedom that I could never have imagined.
The "letting go" is not just about projects and achievements. It has also been about letting go of people; people that I had the prideful notion that I could fix or save. Truth is, I can do neither. God may choose to use me in the process, but I am no one's savior.
In fact, when I get my prideful self out of the way, then God really has room to work.
In short, I have learned that the "I" part of the equation just has to go.
Pride says: More of me and less of God...
Humility says: Less of me and more of God!!
I'd like to leave you with some scriptures that have helped me in this
journey...may they help and bless you as much as they have helped and blessed me:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast... (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
"He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Be blessed...and know that God loves you, as He loves me - beyond measure. Thanks to what Christ did, there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. My sin of pride is forgiven and so is yours. His love forgives and remembers no more. As far as the east is from the west...that is how far your sins have been removed from you. If you find yourself wrestling with pride like I have, confess it and then live in the light of His love and forgiveness. I have and trust me...it's a wonderful place to be.
Why you may want to sponsor a child:
Mariam and Musa (sister and brother) do not have a mother - she passed away. Their father is poor and can barely feed them. There is no money with which to send them to school. He says that he owes "a debt of his life" to the good people who are making RCS possible. He is so thankful that by receiving the love like Jesus at school, his children are receiving love "like that of their mother."
If you would like to sponsor one of these children and continue to give them the hope of an education it only takes $10/month!!
Send donations to: Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513