May 26, 2016
Choose Humility Over Pride
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:2-5, NIV).
Friend to Friend
We live in a broken world where bad things happen. While we cannot always control the things that happen to us or to those around us, we can control how we respond to painful circumstances. If we want to handle hurt in a way that pleases God, we have to make the right choices.
One of the most important choices we must make is to choose humility over pride. And that is a tough one. You may be wondering what humility could possibly have to do with learning how to handle hurt. We cannot handle hurt until we are willing to admit that we are hurting. Why is that so hard to do? I believe it is because of our pride. We should be able to handle the pain and fix whatever problem caused that pain. Right?
A few years ago I underwent what I thought was going to be a simple medical procedure, but when I woke up in recovery I knew I was in trouble. According to the doctor, the surgery went great, but she had not expected to find so much scar tissue and repair work to do.
I certainly did not expect to experience the pain and soreness and inability to function that overwhelmed me. I was basically helpless. I had given myself a whole ten days to recuperate, but it was brutally obvious that recuperation was going to be a long time coming. In fact, those ten days I had so generously carved out of my schedule turned into months of painful and slow recovery. I could feel myself sliding into that familiar pit of darkness.
I have a problem with pride. It has always been extremely hard for me to accept help. I was raised to be strong and independent. When people asked what they could do to help with during my recovery, I automatically responded with, "I am fine. I will let you know if I need anything." Fortunately, my family and friends ignored that absurd assertion and stepped right over my pride as they brought meals, cleaned our house, did laundry, assumed my teaching and speaking responsibilities, and kept our infant grandson while our daughter attended school three days a week. I could not even get out of bed or go downstairs without help - and I did not like it one bit!
Just as a tiny flame can turn into a raging fire, unresolved anger and hurt can turn into depression.
As I began to work through my own anger and frustration, one purpose of this particular pit quickly emerged as God reminded me of a truth I often share but one I fail to practice.
We were created to need God and each other.
It is so easy to slide into a pattern of thinking much like the prideful toddler who announces, "I do it myself!" We can't! And the good news is that we don't have to if we are willing to choose humility over pride and admit that we are hurting. One of the most beautiful examples of a humble spirit is found in the book of Luke.
Luke 13:10-13 (NLT) "One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, ‘Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!’ Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!"
Eighteen years is a long time to endure the kind of pain this woman experienced. I can only imagine how exhausted she must have been. I'm sure she was embarrassed by her physical disability. People probably stared at her out of curiosity while others judged her.
"She must have committed some terrible sin to cause such pain and hurt."
"She is obviously not right with God or He would heal her."
"Maybe it's her prayer life. She is not praying enough."
It would have been so much easier for this woman to hide her pain. She could easily have chosen to be bitter and angry with God. Instead, she came to the synagogue, hoping that Jesus would be there. Her pain led her straight to Him. So can yours if you choose humility over pride.
Lord, please forgive my arrogant heart. I am so sorry for the pride I see in my life. Today, I ask You to search my heart and destroy the strongholds of pride and ego. Help me recognize prideful thoughts and actions in my life. Give me the discernment to be honest and transparent before You and with others. I, too, am a trophy of grace. Help me learn how to live like one.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read the following verses and answer each question:
- Psalm 10:4 (NIV) “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” How does pride affect our relationship with God? Is this true in your life?
- Proverbs 16:5 (NIV) “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” What is God’s attitude toward those who are proud?
- Psalm 40:4 (NIV) “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” How does pride encourage idolatry? Do you have any idols in your life? Name them and eliminate each one.
What decision do you need to make today in order to choose grace over pride? What would that look like in your daily life?
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