Do you ever stop to think about who benefits from your actions? In a lot of cases, the things we do are designed to help us benefit from our actions. If we benefit from our actions, is it also fair to say, we do things to get recognition as well? Since we were babies, we have been conditioned to try to do things for applause. When you clap for a baby, their face lights up. When they start talking, they say, “Look at me,” and then they do something to try to get praise. Unfortunately, when this transitions into adulthood, it becomes something that can inflate our pride. When that happens, we begin to be controlled by what other people think.
Pride is very dangerous. Look at King Saul. He started off very humble. When Samuel found him, he referred to himself as a man from the smallest tribe and the least important family. After he became king, that humility left him and pride took its place. He made decisions that benefited himself rather than God or others. It got the the point that God was sad that he ever made Saul king. When Samuel went to Saul to break the news that God was going to take the kingdom away from him in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was setting up a monument to himself. Pride had taken over Saul’s life to the point he only cared about what God wanted when he got caught or was in a bind.
Romans 8:5 says, “Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities” (TPT). When pride is in the driver’s seat of our life, we do things that benefit ourselves and bring us glory. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that God is opposed to the proud. We must learn to seek God rather than the praise of men. Romans 8 draws a line between those who are Spirit minded and fleshly minded. The fruit of our lives will show which mind we have. Our motivation matters and is the difference between being humble or filled with pride.
In one of the episodes of “The Office”, Michael Scott and Dwight were out on sales calls together. Michael was using a GPS navigation system to get where they were going. The device said, “Turn right.” As Michael began to turn right, Dwight asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m turning right.” Dwight frantically said, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond right there.” Michael said, “But it told me to turn right so I have to.” He then drove the car into the water.
I’m pretty sure almost all of us have used some sort of GPS navigation system by now, whether it’s in our phone or not. When you don’t obey it, the voice comes on, “Rerouting. Make the next legal U-Turn.” If you keep going, it keeps trying to get you to go back. I usually turn it off at that point because it starts to annoy me. I know a better way, but it doesn’t want to see it or give me directions to take it. That GPS system is a lot like our flesh. It wants to direct us and tell us where to go.
If we follow our flesh, we’ll end up in a lake like Michael Scott. Sadly, many of us think we have to do what it says. It leads us down the road of temptation away from God. We know there’s a pond there and we’re going to wreck, but we follow it because we feel we have to. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is frantically saying, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond there.” Too many times we end up in the water of sin and have to pay the price, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like you don’t have to obey your GPS navigation, you don’t have to obey your flesh.
Romans 8:12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do” (NLT). You are free to make your own decisions. The flesh will constantly try to re-rout you and get you to U-Turn, but you have the power to ignore it because you have God’s Holy Spirit in you. When we are Spirit minded, we no longer have to follow the GPS of the flesh, and that leads to an abundant life.