When my son was four, he sat quietly at a table and dumped the pieces to a puzzle, spreading them out to begin. He said to me, “Mom, pretty soon you are going to hear a big ‘TAH DAH!’ but first… there’s going to be a lot of work!”
I wonder if that is what God thinks when we first recognize our desire to follow Him.
As I continued my walk in my journey of pride diagnosis, I came to the next symptom:
Wanting to Correct
I don’t believe the Bible mentions the “gift of reproach” as one of the spiritual gifts, but girl, I think I lived much of my life thinking I had it! Maybe it was growing up with three brothers (who certainly had a lot to learn from me. Tongue-in-cheek.) or being blessed with talents, A’s and no cavities, but somehow along the way, I developed a critical eye: a sign of pride.
How do I tell her she needs to dress differently?
I need to write the school about that teacher.
How can a deacon of the church let his child do THAT on Sunday?
Galatians 6:2-5 says that we should bear one another’s burdens and every man bear his own burden.
If I am thinking of ways to correct someone, I am hardly carrying their burden. In fact, every minute I think about correcting someone is a minute I have not spent worshipping the Lord, or improving myself. I love the saying that if 80% of the problem is my husband’s (or friend’s or teammate’s) and 20% of the problem is my own, then I need to spend 100% of my time working on the 20% that is my own! Every minute spent on stressing “rules” to someone else is often a deterrent from allowing them the “relationship” with God.
(note: The Bible does talk about reproof (James 5:20 for example), and there is a proper time; this “pride” about which I am talking is not Biblical reproof. The recommended reading below clarifies the difference.)
Each morning before school, I try to read to my children from a devotional book. The following story comes from A Wisdom Retreat (book 1), by Stephen Davey. On Day 19, entitled The Aisle Seat, Davey best describes someone who chose to worship God instead of correcting His people:
“Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.
One day Bill decided to attend a middle-class church that was across the street from the campus. He walked into this church of well-dressed people in his tattered jeans, tee shirt, and, of course, barefooted. In truth, this was the first time he’d ever been inside a church sanctuary.
People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything as Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was quite crowded that Sunday and as he came to the front pew he realized there were no seats left. So without any hesitation, he sat down on the carpet in the middle of the aisle, the same place he sat when his Christian friends invited him as they met for Bible study. He casually crossed his legs and waited for the service to begin.
The tension was palpable as people murmured, craning their necks to see the stranger in the aisle. Then one of the elderly deacons – a man who was well-respected in the church – began walking down the aisle toward the student. Rebecca’s friends who witnessed this scene told her that they whispered to each other, “Well, you can’t exactly blame him for scolding the guy…he is a disruption to the service!”
As the well-groomed deacon neared Bill, the church was deathly quiet. All eyes were glued front and center to see what would happen next. With some difficulty, the old man lowered himself to the floor and sat down next to Bill. He crossed his legs and shared his hymnal with the college-aged boy. The crowd was stunned.
That Sunday the deacon not only worshiped there on the floor, but he reminded the congregation how to worship.”
C.S. Lewis says that the greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is …Christians. What?! “The greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is [sinful] Christians.” (OK, I added a word.) Well of course we are! I bet I stunted the growth with my very own lips at times, correcting people for things that didn’t even matter to Jesus himself. Prideful people take the light off of the Lord and put it onto themselves.
God doesn’t need me; I need God. Anytime that role is changed, my pride is in the way and those around me suffer. (Aside: PLEASE, if you have been hurt by one of these “special people with the gift of correcting,” look beyond them, and rise above to forgive. God has a bigger plan for you! Christians are not perfect (not even your spouse!), or they would not need a Savior Who is!) May we follow that deacon’s example and worship God instead of working on His people in our hearts and actions today.
Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp
Other letters on pride: