Above or better? Not!

Lord, have mercy on me...a sinner. Those words speak volumes. When we finally get past our pride and begin to see ourselves realistically, we are on the right path. Pride gets in our way so many times - giving us 'reason' and 'permission' to compare ourselves one with another. This is dangerous because these are faulty comparisons. As I have already said this week - there is no degree to sin - all sin is destructive to us and possibly even to others. Pride is hard to identify in our lives sometimes, but it is indeed a 'big deal'. 

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 18:9-14)

There are times when we are so confident WE can do something, but then when we fall on our faces, not accomplishing whatever it was we set out to accomplish we struggle with this thing called 'pride'. Why? WE thought we could do it in our own strength. I have tried many things in the workshop having watched a few YouTube videos of others who actually do woodworking as more than an occasional hobby and my results varied quite a bit. Why? I am not at their level of expertise! Pride is an elevation of ourselves to an unrealistic position. It is us saying we are better than another. When it comes to making some things out of wood, I am okay, but those others online are not just okay - they are doggone great at it!

Anytime we begin to compare, we are putting ourselves higher than another. We say, "At least I am not like...." We may not realize it at first, but we are somehow seeing ourselves as 'better than you'. Nobody does it like me...I am best at this...I am the most informed...I have the best relationship...and the list goes on and on. We don't always realize we are doing this - because some comparison we do is rather unconscious - we do it in our minds without even thinking about. Some of the problems we overlook in ourselves are the very things we focus so closely on in others. This can be a tell-tale sign we are struggling with this 'unconscious' pride thing.

The God we serve is the very one who can handle our failures - nothing separates us from his love. There are times we say we can handle all the stuff that comes up in our lives - but this is pride. We cannot handle life alone - we need to ask for help even when we don't think we need it. Maybe we struggle with pride more than we thought. We are pretty certain we can do life without really asking for direction from anyone - especially God. What a dangerous place to be - to stop taking life to God and doing it all on our own terms. Whenever we feel like we can handle life alone - we sin - and then we begin to feel shame - then we try to cover it up in our pride. See the ugly cycle there?

Pride isn't easy to see, and it can be even harder to acknowledge. We may feel shame, but covering up our failure is never going to work to make us feel any better. Rather than covering up, we need to ask for help. The humble are lifted up - they aren't stepped on by God and pushed even further down into their mire. We are lifted above the mire - not only lifted, but washed clean of the mire. It is one thing to be lifted - it is indeed another to be fully washed clean from the muck and mire of our sin. We all need the help of another - God is our first help and then he places others in our lives to continue to help us - as our accountability partners.

Sin cannot be rationalized. We are not above the rules. We are not able to handle life alone. We aren't always going to like our vulnerability when we confess our sins, but there is nothing more liberating than to get truly 'naked' before God and ask for his help with our pride. Covered up sin is just pride trying to 'dress up' the sin so it isn't as evident. God isn't fooled by the 'dressed up' version of our lives. In fact, he is more comfortable with our nakedness than we are! Just sayin!

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