Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Tag Archives: pride
If you’ve ever been around a two or three year old, you know how independent they can be. I wonder if we call them “terrible two’s” because they are trying to do things on their own and act like they no longer need our help. It’s the start of a lifetime of trying to be self sufficient. The problem is that they lack wisdom in doing the things they’re trying to be independent at, and as adults, we’re constantly trying to make sure their independence doesn’t get them hurt or allow them to break expensive things. They’re constantly saying, “I can do it!” While they can do many things, they often need help and an occasional rescue whether they believe it or not.
As we grow up, we carry that independent spirit with us. We feel accomplished when we do things on our own like get a job, make a major purchase or graduate. As our hair turns gray, we seem to have to prove we are competent and still able to do things on our own. The independence God placed in us is strong, but so is our dependence on Him. We were given this independent streak and a desire to do things greater than our abilities. The latter was designed to create a dependence on God for help, but our selfish pride often prevents us from seeking Him when we need help.
Isaiah 46:4 says, “I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter how old you get, God still has great things for you to do. He’s also right there with you through life’s accomplishments helping you along the way. Like a watchful parent, He stands by us, encouraging us and rescuing us when we need it. There’s no shame in asking for His help when we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. God takes pride in helping us out all throughout our lives, and He loves it when we reach out to Him and say, “I can’t do it. Can you help?” We need to drop the independent pride we’ve been carrying since our terrible two’s and let God help us. When we do, we will accomplish infinitely more than we thought possible.
If I’m honest, I’d rather be a person who helps others than a person who receives help from others. It’s hard for me to accept help even when I need it. There have been times in my life though when I’ve needed help because I was unable to do what needed to be done. When others tried to help, I tried to push them away. Then one day, a person who was trying to help me said, “You’re robbing me of my blessing if you don’t let me help!” I had never thought of it like that.
I had forgotten that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I was definitely blessed by their giving, but I didn’t think about the blessing on the other side. I know they weren’t doing it for the blessing, but in my refusal, I was robbing them of what they would have received from God for helping me. Every act of service gets two blessings. By declining my blessing (which was a dumb thing), I was denying them theirs. So why do we reject help?
For me, I grew up in a family that needed the help of others often. God was always faithful to us and people showed up at the right times. I’ll never forget one family that helped me in particular. As they gave me a tremendous gift, I asked how I could repay them. They said, “One day when you’re able, do the same for others.” I decided then and there that I wanted to be a person who helped others rather than a person who needed help. So when I need help, it takes me back to that time and feelings of being the poor kid come up.
In Matthew 10, Jesus was sending out the disciples to preach all over Israel. He told them not to take any money, which meant they would be dependent on other’s help. He knew that needing help also keeps us humble. In verse 41 He spoke a life changing truth when He said, “Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help” (MSG). By accepting help from others, you are actually helping them. They get a blessing from your acceptance. Don’t deny or rob others of blessings because of pride. Look at it as your way of helping them when you have nothing else to give. Don’t be a blessing thief.
When I picture John the Baptist, I picture a Grizzly Adams kind of man. Bearded, tough, and furry clothes. The Bible describes him as a guy who lived in the wilderness and ate locust. I wonder what people thought of him when they saw him. I wonder if they took one look at his exterior, made a judgement, and discounted his message or dismissed him as crazy. Sure, on the outside, he was rough, but on the inside was a heart and spirit we should all strive to have.
I believe he was able to amass a great following based on his heart. How many people do you know who have charismatic personalities, yet are very humble? Those two things rarely go together. Usually the person who enjoys being the center of attention doesn’t give it up happily, but John knew his place and his calling. When Jesus came along, he had no problem yielding the stage to Him. To me, that’s what admire most about him.
When some of his followers came to him to tell him that Jesus was baptizing not far away, they expected him to get upset. After all, his name was John the Baptist. Baptizing people was kind of his thing. His followers were a lot like us. They didn’t like to yield the stage, and they really didn’t like that Jesus was taking people from their ministry. How dare He? After all, it was John who baptized Jesus. But John knew what was going on and he didn’t let his pride get in the way of his calling
In John 3:30, John showed us what was behind his wild and rough exterior when he told his followers, “He must become more important while I become less important” (GNT). That’s the attitude that each of us should strive for each day. We should make Jesus more important in our life while we become less important. We should understand that our lives were created to serve His purpose, not ours. Each day, we should be looking for ways to have Him increase in our lives. If you want to fulfill your purpose, you have to lose the pride that tries to make your name known so you can make Him known.
I went to small, Christian, high school with a graduating class of 16 students. During my senior year, as I would walk down the hall, I would jokingly yell out, “Out of the way, underclassmen! There’s a senior coming through.” It got to the point I had one of the underclassmen walk in front of me and do it for me. We would laugh and I would tell him, “Thanks for showing your proper respect.” We would then go to our classes and do it again after the next bell.
One afternoon a teacher pulled me aside and said, “I’ve been hearing you call out for people to get out of your way and I don’t like it or think it’s funny. In fact, I believe it’s the sin of pride.” I was shocked and embarrassed. I started to push back and said, “It’s just a joke.” He told me, “It’s not really a joke. I’ve watched you over the years and this isn’t you. You’re losing the respect of others, including myself. Pride is serious.”
I had a choice to make. I could tell him he was overreacting and keep on doing it or I could listen to his correction in love and change. I thought about it all night before I prayed, “God, if by doing this I’m committing the sin of pride, I ask you to forgive me and help me to be humble.” I didn’t do it again, and I even stopped the underclassman from doing it for me. I explained I was wrong, that I asked God to forgive me, and that I was sorry I got him involved. It was humbling to be corrected so boldly, but it was necessary to my future.
It’s not fun being corrected by someone else, especially when you’re on the wrong. Everything in you wants to fight back, justify your actions, and to keep doing it out of spite. That’s not God’s plan though. Proverbs 10:17 says, “People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger” (GNT). We all are in need of correction from time to time. What really important is how we respond to it. I may not like it when I’m corrected, but if I’m wise, I’ll listen to it and correct my ways. That’s God’s plan for each of us. None of us are above correction, but all of us have a choice in how we respond to it.
When I was younger, every once in a while, our church would do a foot washing service. I typically reacted like Peter: You ain’t washing my feet! Number one, I don’t like taking off my socks and shoes in public. Number two, it’s uncomfortable to sit in a chair, in front of everyone, while a leader in the church washes your feet. Even though I understand it a little bit better now than then, it’s still one of those things that makes you want to protest having it done for you.
In John 13, the disciples and Jesus were at the Last Supper. After dinner, Jesus took off His robe and put on an apron. He poured water in a basin and began to wash their feet. When He got to Peter and he protested, Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing” (MSG). Jesus wasn’t just talking about not being a part of the foot washing, He was talking about not being a part of building His Church.
Peter’s reply to Jesus was to not just wash his feet, but to wash his whole body then. I’m sure Jesus and the others chuckled at that. But Jesus’ next words were the crux of what He was trying to do. He said, “My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene.” It’s not about having your feet washed. It’s about being humble enough to serve someone you lead or to allow yourself to be served by someone you respect. Either way, it’s humbling.
Jesus is teaching us that none of us will ever become so great that we will be above doing the most humbling of tasks. Nor are any of us so insignificant that we are below having those we respect serve us in a manner that honors us. On both ends of the spectrum, our pride clashes with humility. Either we have too much pride to humble ourself completely to serve someone else or we have too much pride to let someone we respect humble themselves at our expense. Jesus said if we fall into either of those traps, we will have no part in what He’s trying to do.
I Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another” (AMP). We are to put on the apron of humility like Jesus did, free ourselves of pride, and serve one another if we are to be a part of building His Church. It’s in the ground of humble servanthood that holiness grows. Pride is a weed in that garden that will choke it out. Get rid of your pride and learn to serve others in humility of you truly want to be like Christ.
I’m about as stubborn of a person as they come. In some cases, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out when it is advantageous to be stubborn and when it is detrimental. I don’t always pick the right one. Sometimes I’m stubborn and it pays off, while other times it gets me into trouble. I’ve learned it usually works against me when I’m so set on how I want to do something, that I refuse to listen to wisdom. In those cases, it doesn’t matter how sound or logical the opposing argument is, my stubbornness refuses to allow me to listen.
In I Samuel 8, Israel was at that same place. They knew that Samuel was a person who spoke with God and that his judgements were good. They had watched God use him since he was a boy. When he grew old, he appointed his sons as judges, but they didn’t listen to God like Samuel did. They took bribes and perverted judgement, so the leaders decided to confront Samuel about it. Instead of just asking for their removal and for new judges, they asked for a king.
Samuel was heartbroken. He felt rejected and disappointed in his sons, I’m sure. He went to the Lord about it. In verse 7, the Lord said to Samuel, “Do everything they say to you, for they are rejecting me, not you” (NLT). Then a few verses later, He finished by giving Samuel instructions, “Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will rule over them.” He wanted Samuel to give them wisdom before they made their final decision.
Samuel listed out the things a king would do to their kids, take from their homes, and tax. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 gives us their response. “But the people wouldn’t listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles’” (MSG). Samuel took what they said to God, and He gave them a king. He gave them what they wanted, even though it was not His will because they wouldn’t listen to wisdom. God may grant your request, but it doesn’t mean it was the wisest choice.
Reading this story reminds me that God has placed people in my life to give me wisdom. It’s my choice to listen to them or to be stubborn in my ways. Proverbs 28:26 gives us insight to this kind of thinking. It says, “It is foolish to follow your own opinions. Be safe, and follow the teachings of wiser people” (GNB). Stubbornness leads us down the path of foolishness while wisdom takes us down safe paths. If you’re facing a difficult situation, ask God to put people in your life who can give you godly wisdom, then follow it.