How many times have I made that statement? How many times have I thought about it quietly? Sometimes, it’s accurate. Most times, it’s not. However, we still think it; we still believe it.
Let me give you an example. I was taught how to load a dishwasher as a child. Most of those instructions and methods stuck with me and as I grew I formed a habit of loading a dishwasher a certain way. As an adult, now, there are five people in my family. Guess what, there are also five different methods of loading the dishwasher. At times, I walk through and see multiple problems in their latest method. The pride in me screams, “I’ve told you the right way to do this, just do what I said.” But the Holy Spirit gives me pause and shuts my mouth. It reminds me that this is not about me, or even the dishes, but the lesson and problem solving that is involved. So instead of fussing that they are not doing it “my way”, what I focus on is giving a pat on the back, a kiss on the head and thank them for helping out without being asked. You see, that’s the real focus: shaping their character and integrity.
You see, when we get caught up in our pride or prideful thinking, we miss out on so much. We say we want to be more Godly, but when put in a situation to practice Godliness, we don’t always like it. We often think we can handle things better. I’ve heard it taught in the past that when we say or think phrases like, “Well, if it were up to me, I would ......”, we are, at least in our minds, putting ourselves as equals with God to imagine how we would do it differently. Another form of this phrase is “If I were God, I would have...”. How dare I ever compare myself to a Holy God?
When we act and think pridefully, we also rob others of God’s blessings. A few months ago, a dear member of our church approached my husband with money in her hand. She said, “I was praying about what to do with this money and God told me to give it to your family.” Our family has been on both the giving and receiving end of gift “just because”. We have felt what a blessing it is to give to others under the Lord’s guidance, whether it is a gift of time, food, friendship, money, or many other things. God blesses the giver
just as much as He does the receiver. Paul writes to the Corinthians about this very thing:
Paul was telling the Corinthian church how he had been boasting to the Macedonians about their willingness. Then he tells them, I’m sending people to you and wanted to let you know so you could get your gift ready. Then he reminds them:
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
So, when we refuse to open ourselves up to humbly setting ourselves (our image, our reputation, etc.) aside we not only harm ourselves, but others also. See, you can have three
different people involved in any interaction: the giver, the receiver, and the witness. Perhaps God is using you to bless the giver, who needs an abundant overflow or a lesson in trusting God by letting go of something. Or perhaps, He is using you and the giver to bless the witness who needs to see God’s character reflected in this interchange.
Finally, what pride boils down to is an issue of trust. We will
not obey God if we do not trust Him. If we do not trust Him, we try to find a better plan, a better way. We start imagining what we would do instead. Then sometimes, if we are brave enough, we do it instead. Maybe we’ve been hurt in the past by people who called themselves Christians. Maybe they were Christians and just were not being faithful or obedient. Maybe our feelings are telling us, “This hurts,” or “This is hard”. It’s okay to feel hurt and it’s okay to feel that something you’re facing is hard. What’s not okay, is being disobedient because of these feelings. We need to trust God more than we do our feelings. We need to trust that God knows what He’s doing much more than we do. In the long run, it’s really not important how my children load the dishwasher. What’s important is to develop the character and integrity that aligns with a trusting, obedient relationship with God.
So how do we overcome pride? How do we have victory over prideful hearts and thoughts? Pray for God to use you in His way. Pray that God would make you simply a vessel for ministering to others. Make your life about Him. Think on the rich young ruler who went away sad and grieved because he was told to sell his possessions and follow after Christ. What are you holding onto? It may not be material things. What are you desperately trying to control - your image, your relationships, your standing in the community, your security, your finances? It could be anything, even how to load a dishwasher. Humbly surrender your control to God and just watch what He does with it!