Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Weekly Writes [RnR]: My Pride

The month of July was crazy and Kyle and I both swore we wouldn't go anywhere during the month of August, but it still seems to get away from me. I've neglected to write my weekly writes, so I'm back on it in hopes life will sloooooow down a tad.

I'll admit, this one was a hard one for me to write and even harder to hit "publish" because it exposes my true self, but if I let go of my pride, and admit my imperfections, I hope to glorify God in the face of my pride.

My Pride

Right now I'm reading and reflecting on Milton Vincent's "A Gospel Primer". It's a less-than-100-page, but it-takes-me-forever-to-read book, because each section requires deep reflection. Today's topic was "Cultivating Humility" and although I rarely quote an author word for word in hopes that you read the book, today's section was worth repeating, because I cannot sum it up more beautifully than the way Vincent wrote it:

"According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever. (Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 1) This is actually a wonderful mercy from God, for pride is at the root of all my sin. Pride produced the first sin in the Garden (Genesis 3), and pride always precedes every sinful stumbling in my life. (Proverbs 16:18) Therefore, if I am to experience deliverance from sin, I must be delivered from the pride that produces it. Thankfully, the gospel is engineered to accomplish this deliverance.

Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place. Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins and the crucifixion of God's own Son in my place. Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on me because of Christ's death, is always humbling to remember, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.

Pride wilts in the atmosphere of the gospel; and the more pride is mortified within me, the less frequent are my moments of sinful contention with God and with others (Proverbs 13:10). Conversely, humility grows lushly in the atmosphere of the gospel, and the more humility flourishes within me,  the more I experience God's grace (James 4:6) along with the strengthening His grace provides (Hebrews 13:9). Additionally, such humility intensifies my passion for God and causes my heart increasingly to thrill whenever He is praised (Psalm 34:2)." (p.27-28)

First of all, the idea that "God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever" as being a "wonderful mercy from God" sounds absolutely crazy considering everything I was ever taught in school. Have pride in yourself! Believe in yourself! Put yourself first! But the Bible very explicitly states that our salvation is not by what we do, but God alone. I can't tell you how many times God states in the Bible that Christians should have discretion. We should be humble. "Be not wise in your own eyes;" (Proverbs 3:7). In fact, in Proverbs 6:16-19 the author describes six things that the Lord hates and the first one listed is "haughty eyes." God is very clear of the consequences of pride, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2) The saying, "Pride comes before the fall" actually came from Proverbs 16:18. I constantly hear the world telling me to "listen to yourself" but God says, "Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool," (Proverbs 28:26). The idea is that we trust in God and God alone, putting HIS Words in our mouth and heart, and glorifying HIM in all that we do.

Here's the thing... I type that out and I mean every word, but I fail at it daily. I could totally relate to Vincent's claim that "pride always precedes every sinful stumbling in my life." Oh my, if only you could get in my head. I pass judgement on others based on what I have done with my life. It's embarrassing to admit this to you but it'd sound something like, "Well, I earned my masters three years after graduating from college, pssssh, I can do anything!" or "I read my Bible every day, how can that person say they're a Christian if they haven't even opened it?" Those thoughts are not Christian-like at all and are the exact opposite of what Christ teaches. Our thoughts are a direct reflection of our heart. Paul tells us in Romans 10:9 that "if you confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." I confess Jesus with my mouth daily, but only Jesus is the judge of my heart. My heart obviously has some work to do. 

The thing is, what I just listed are not bad things (like earning a Masters degree, or reading the Bible every day), in fact, they are awesome things, but instead of glorifying God for the gifts HE HAS GIVEN ME, I become a self-loving, haughty, I'm-better-than-you, ugly person on the inside. Rather than using the God-given-blessing of going to college to glorify Him, I'm arrogant; which is a dangerous attitude to have when you walk through the door to teach young people. Rather than reading the Bible and trying to live my life by it, I'm using it to place judgement on others.

So when I read Vincent's beautiful words, I'm once again convicted to change my thoughts. The only way to do that is by doing what Vincent advises and that is to make the gospel my obsession. So the words that are in my head are the story of how God took the sin of His beloved children on His own shoulders so that we could be holy and blameless IN HIS PRESENCE to worship HIM for all eternity.  It reminds me of a question my dad would ask occasionally, "Becky, when you are given a crown in heaven, what will you do with it?"

"Place it at Jesus' feet!"

When I reflect on that and realize that salvation has absolutely nothing to do with what I did or can do or will do, I'm on my knees thanking Him and then I'm that much more willing to live this life FOR HIS GLORY and not my own.

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