Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sneaky Side of Pride

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
~Proverbs 16:18

Napoleon Bonaparte said that a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. Of course, it is not the flag itself but what it stands for, but it cause me to think just what are the bits of colored ribbon in my life. What are the things in which I have pride?

I would say that I have pride in my Lord, my daughter, my husband, my home, my lifestyle, my homeschooling, my art, my needlework, my sourdough baking, my homemaking (mostly), my clothing, even the majority of my choices, duties, and projects are done with pride. To be honest, I have pride in just about anything in which I have a hand in choosing, improving, and maintaining in some way.

It seems that pride is two-edge sword. It is both good and bad, depending on how it is wielded. However, recently I began to see what many would consider to be prideful is actually not pride itself but vanity. Jane Austen brings clarity to the difference in this quote: “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.”

There it is: the sneaky side of pride to which even Christians succumb. What will people think! It is not really pride, it is vanity. It is the pride we have in our colored bits of ribbon that gives them worth, but it is vanity, the showing of our colored bits of ribbon, that subjugates our actions. We want to look good to others. Christians should desire to be a living witness for Christ and this is the life ministry of every Christian, but often as we do this thinking that we must be perfect in order that our ministry be effective...and this is where we taint our ministry with vanity, the imperfection that we cannot see, the very thing that caused Satan to fall. Vanity is not of the Lord.

There are things we have done and will do that cause us embarrassment and that could be, at least in our own minds, harmful to our ministry. Sin is not always the culprit. At times, there may be no sin associated. These things could have been imposed by other people, due to unfortunate circumstances, or poor choices. No matter how the situation came into being, the moment we worry about what other people will think is the moment we have given in to our own vanity. That is when the real sin manifests...and we have all done this.

Would you befriend anyone who went from place to place as if homeless, had very little money, embarrassed the religious leaders all the while talking about the Kingdom of God as if obsessed by it, was condemned by the government, was beaten, and then hung up on a cross naked to endure the final humiliation of being crucified in sight of all the people there? Did Jesus worry about what the people might think of Him or his ministry? Did Jesus worry about how all this would hurt His ministry? His life and His death was the ministry! Did Jesus have pride? I believe He did. Did He have vanity? Absolutely not.

The difference, the place where we go wrong, is when our thoughts stray from seeking only to do what pleases the Lord, regardless of how we think it could makes us or our ministry appear to others. Jesus was a condemned man. He was mocked! MOCKED! We tend to forget that.

Many Christians are going through some very hard times. Some are embarrassed by their circumstances. We need to remember that whatever our circumstances, it is part of our ministry. We should not hide it away. We should not give in to the very same sin that caused Satan and one third of the angels to fall away. We cannot control what others will think of us. If you truly have faith in God, you should believe that every, EVERY circumstance, can be used by God to fulfill His purpose.

Is there ever really any shame when you are in God's will?
Is there any shame worse than not being in His will?

~ My Lord, thank you for this reminder. I tend to want to hide things from people because I worry about what they might think and how it will reflect on my own ministry...but it is not my ministry, it is Yours. Please, please help me to continuous walk in Your will so that no matter how the things I do appear to others, I am pleasing You. Help me not to give in to vanity. ~

1 comment:

  1. Seeking: I don't normally fuss about what others will think. The one exception is with ministry. lol It is an area I feel really insecure so I tend to seek reassurance & overly value other's opinions. Working on it but deeply rooted insecurities make this one really hard to shift.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.