Three Pride-Crushing Questions

I have been busy, busy, busy writing the workbook for the Bible study I am teaching in the fall entitled Becoming a Woman of Conviction in a World of Compromise: A Study in First Corithians. Since I haven’t had much extra time to blog, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and share a little preview from Week One of the workbook. You will be hearing a lot more about the study as it gets closer. Yes ladies, it is coming to a blog near you! 🙂

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This poem by Beth Moore has been up, down, and all around the world of women’s Bible study a few thousand times over the past few years, but just in case you haven’t seen it (or even if you have) it’s well worth a read because it really captures the dangers of pride that Paul has been drilling into us in the first few chapters of First Corinthians:

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.

I cheat you of your God-given destiny…because you demand your own way.

I cheat you of contentment…because you “deserve better than this.”

I cheat you of knowledge…because you already know it all.

I cheat you of healing…because you are too full of you to forgive.

I cheat you of holiness…because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.

I cheat you of vision…because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.

I cheat you of genuine friendship…because nobody’s going to know the real you.

I cheat you of love…because real romance demands sacrifice.

I cheat you of greatness in heaven…because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.

I cheat you of God’s glory…because I convinced you to seek your own.

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.

You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.

Untrue.

I’m looking to make a fool of you.

God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…

If you stick with me you’ll never know.

If pride doesn’t scare you, it should. If it’s potential to destroy you doesn’t force you to your knees in prayer on a regular basis, it should. If its insidious, deceptive nature doesn’t have you laying your heart bare before the truth of God’s Word and the convicting ministry of His Spirit every day, it should.

Proverbs 16:5 says that “everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” James 4:6 says that “God is opposed to the proud.” Nothing builds a wall between us and God quite like the sin of pride. It pits our will against His like no other sin does. If you don’t want to experience the Lord’s presence, sense the leading of His Spirit, enjoy the sweet fellowship of His people, or see His awesome power at work in your life, just get stuck on yourself. Just demand your own way. Just act as though you know more about life than the One who created it. Pride is the quintessential God repellent.

Every outburst of anger, every fractured marriage, every word of gossip, every sexual sin, every grudge, every choice not to forgive, every church division, every prayerless morning, every occasion of nagging, every rejection or dilution of biblical truth, every act of blame-shifting, every pity party, every selfish complaint, every unwise use of money, every obsession with physical appearance, every instance of self-loathing, every “nothing goes the way I want it to” bad mood . . . every single area of disobedience in our lives is rooted in pride.  It’s  a “gateway” sin that stimulates our appetite for our own personal glory and kills our appetite for God’s. Sadly, a heart unmoved by a passion for God’s glory is a disaster waiting to happen. A life that worships self instead of God is doomed to self-destruct.

So don’t mess with this stuff!

But how do we avoid it? How do we protect ourselves from a sin that is so natural and so “at home” in our deceitful hearts?  For goodness sake, Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world where they enjoyed the unobstructed glory and presence of God 24/7 and they were still duped into believing that their way was better than God’s (Gen. 3)!  If pride can spring up in the hearts of people who lived in a perfect world, what hope do you and I have to overcome it?

Our only hope is to maintain a biblical assessment of ourselves. If we’re going to walk in humility, we have to know who we are and who we’re not from God’s perspective. First Corinthians 4:7 contains three questions that can help us do that. Ask these questions every day, “marinate” in the answers, and I think you’ll find it pretty hard to make too much of yourself. It can’t get a whole lot more practical than that!

  • Who regards you as superior?

News flash: You are made up of the same exact stuff as everyone else and are just as dependent on God’s grace as those you may be tempted to look down upon. God didn’t save you because you are amazing. You are amazing because He saved you. There are no organizational charts from God’s perspective. No CEO’s. No celebrities. Only servants. So regardless of how many people may “bow” to you, you must bow to Christ. He alone is superior!

  • What do you have that you did not receive?

First Chronicles 29: 11 and 12 says, “Yours O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty . . . Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all . . . it lies in Your hand to make to make great and to strengthen everyone.” James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

I know you worked really, really hard for that college degree, you earned that position in your company by pursuing professional excellence, your kids are the way they are because you have spent lots of blood, sweat, and tears doing the hard work of training and discipline. Perhaps you have the things you have because you carefully planned and saved. I applaud your efforts. I think Christians of all people should be known for a solid work ethic and the pursuit of excellence, so good job mama! But can I remind you of something? You wouldn’t have a thing if it weren’t for God. We have what have – all of it – by His providential provision. Period.  When it comes to salvation, spiritual gifts and ministry influence, the same is true in even greater measure. I love what John the Baptist said about his ministry in John 3:27: “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” He’s the same guy who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Pride dies when we understand the ultimate source of our possessions and position. It aint us!

  • Since you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 

Pride is 100% pretense. It’s a sham, a fraud, an illusion based on a view of ourselves, our talents, our success, and our stuff that simply isn’t true. Pride says God needs all that. Truth is, He’d be just fine without you. Pride says “Look what I did!” (in the subtle form of a status update, of course). Truth is, you were just an instrument through whom God chose to work.

My three year old’s favorite word is “mine.” Yesterday we were at the park and every time another kid would walk by, he’d hold out his matchbox car and say (very loudly and proudly), “This car MINE!” I corrected him in a way he could understand but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Boy, you are going to learn the hard way who that car really belongs to if you don’t stop throwing it in everyone’s face and start being sweet about it!” Unfortunately, Christians can have a “This mine!” complex. They can be downright nasty about it too. “This my Sunday school class . . . This my solo . . . This my (superior) theological viewpoint  . . . This my money . . . This my favorite worship style . . . This my kid (the perfect one over there) . . . This my favorite teacher/preacher . . .This my church!”  Keep it up and Dad’s going to have to teach us the hard way who our “stuff” really belongs to! Hmmmm . . . could the economic strife of the last several years have anything to do with that? Just thinkin’ out loud here.

I believe the perfect “bow” the tie up a this week of homework is James 4:7-10 which says, “Submit therefore to God . . .cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (emphasis added).

There you have it, clear as day: In God’s economy the way up . . .  is down. Don’t let anybody tell you different. Where pride cheats, humility liberates. It is the key that sets us free to enjoy the wide open spaces of a truly abundant life in Christ.

So, with my face to the ground, my eyes on the Lord, my heart for His glory, and my life in His hands . . . I’m ready to run free! Who’s with me?

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