Since Eden

The thing of which I write today is one of those that is very difficult to see in ourselves, though we see it so plainly in others!  It wraps itself in ‘the pursuit of excellence,’ hides behind the desire to ‘accomplish great things,’  and lurks even in the places of ‘Christian service.’ This thing drives us to work harder and it congratulates us when we do something we think is noble or beyond the call of duty. It is right there to remind us of our ‘worthlessness’ when others surpass us and makes us incapable of rejoicing in success. It keeps us from true faith, focused on our own ability and hard work. 

When we fail it beats us relentlessly. It blinds us to our own failures but gives us the keen sight of a hawk to see the blots in another’s character. The appeal to Eve in the Garden was built around it. Solomon was deceived by it. It is equally at home in a palace and a pigsty.

By now you probably know that I am writing about pride! This sin, according to Isaiah, was in the heart of the most noble angel and caused his banishment from the Presence of God. “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?” (Isaiah 14:12-16, NLT)  “Shining star” is also translated “Lucifer,” and this passage is believed, by many, to be describing the origins of Satan.

I believe that more Christians are tripped by PRIDE than lust, greed, laziness, and apathy combined!  Our American ideals of individualism and personal success are easily co-opted by pride that sees only the ‘good’ in great ambition, in the drive for perfectionism that produces many good works.  Even the best humanitarian efforts can be easily corrupted by the need that demands ‘look what I have done and admire me.’   

The last decade has brought us social media. I enjoy Facebook! I love seeing the pictures and the anecdotes that my friends and family share there. I share there, too often some might say. But, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook feed narcissism. They naturally invite us to say “Hey, look at me.”  Conversely, they become a source of great despair when we conclude our little, ordinary life will never measure up to the glorious ones that we see paraded across the screen on our smartphone. It is now proven fact that teen-age girls in particular, can be damaged emotionally by the barrage of ‘perfect’ faces and bodies they see in pictures that are carefully filtered and endlessly photo-shopped.

God says “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12, NIV)
James teaches that the gateway to greater grace is found in humility. “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.” (James 4:7, The Message)

So, what can we do with that universal temptation of pride, one as old as Eden?  Where can we go to find release from slavery to the ‘pride of life?’

Confession is a key!  This is not the whiny, fake confession that is pretends to feel remorse in an attempt to gain more attention. This is the confession of the private prayer, that involves being open before God, acknowledging who we are, what we’ve done, and our self-love.  Yes, friend, I have said it a thousand times but it is absolutely true: “The One who knows you best, loves you most.”  When we let Him reveal the truth to us and confess (the Biblical word means we ‘say the same thing’), He forgives us and we are made new.  Only true worship: waiting before the Lord, perhaps in silence, allows the Spirit to break the hold of this acceptable sin. When the Spirit whispers a warning to our heart about a proud attitude, when need to find a quiet retreat.

Service is important!   When an opportunity is presented to us to serve, we simply do so.  We do not calculate the reward, nor do we avoid those things that are hidden from others. We simply serve – in obedience. Curiously, pride withers when we serve for the eyes of God alone. 

We love Jesus!  That may seem to be statement of the obvious, but He said ‘no one can love two masters.’  When we devote ourselves to Him, that love replaces the love of Self. Pride dies.

The word from the Word today points our attention to the one true model for humility – Christ Jesus. Meditate on these words prayerfully.

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.” (Philippians 2:4-9, NLT) 

Lord, fill me with the mind of Christ so that I will know humility and the freedom that is found in You. Amen.

 (Video of this blog at this link)

________________

Great Are You Lord

You give life You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope You restore ev’ry heart that is broken
And great are You Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry these bones will sing
Great are You Lord

David Leonard | Jason Ingram | Leslie Jordan

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