Let me tell you a story about a woman I know well. She’s professional, busy, not really a bubbly person, but very caring. She is honest, sometimes to a fault, and so very smart. She works hard and is a problem solver. In fact, she will do whatever she can to fix your situation and help you solve any issue you have. Afterall, she has the answers to most of life’s situations and well, her issues are minor in the grand scope of world problems.
She is so efficient she has told God on more than one occasion that she realizes He has the entire burden of the world on His shoulders. Knowing He needs some help, she gladly handles the things in her life herself and even in the lives of those in her circle.
Ironically, this intelligent woman did not realize how pride was separating her from a close relationship with the living Christ until a God-fearing, truly humble leader spoke truth to her one day.
“You do realize, don’t you, that by not relying on God with your prayers, you are elevating yourself to His same level. You, my friend, are trying to limit the omnipresent, all powerful Lord by acting in a manner that says you think He is too busy for you. You are trying to be God’s equal, not His daughter.”
Through her friend’s words, she suddenly realized the truth of the matter. She wasn’t being helpful; she was being consumed by pride. God wasn’t quiet because He was so busy with everything else that He was thankful for the help and trusted that things were well under control. He was separated from this woman because unconfessed sin was keeping this woman distant from God.
This woman’s name is Rhonda. Yep, I’m the woman in the introduction. If you have read any of my previous blog posts over this past year, you will remember that I was raised by an abusive father. In an effort to divert his wrath from me, I strived for perfection. Through the years, my efforts to be perfect, used as a child to protect myself, twisted into prideful behavior as an adult.
Because of my past experiences, I have a strong work ethic and always put my best effort forth in any venture I participate in. I want to feel the satisfaction of a job well done, but gut level honesty here –I also want you to notice how valuable I am. Mediocre goes against my very nature. Unfortunately, I also struggle with biting off more than I can chew and thus often fall short of my unrealistic goals. Pride seeps in there as well. But that’s another topic for another day.
I am usually fairly clever at figuring problems out, so I consider myself to be pretty independent. I never thought of myself as prideful. I also thought you had to think of yourself as being beautiful in order to be guilty of being prideful. Vanity equaled pride to me. I did not like my reflection in the mirror. Snow White’s stepmom was prideful, I was not!
I thought I was just being helpful and generous because I alone had the best course of action for my problems and for yours. Pride was a blind spot for me. Is it for you?
As a child, I struggled to feel accepted and worthy. Partly because of that, I have made some huge mistakes along the way to my fifties. Pride made me think my solutions to many problems were always the correct answer and maybe some of them were for my situation. Yet, pride made me think that how I thought the world should be was the only correct viewpoint and therefore my way was THE WAY. Not sure how I didn’t see it before, it certainly sounds prideful and arrogant as I type it now!
I have two beautiful daughter-in- laws that can testify that I have often offered unwanted advice. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was being arrogant and prideful. (For that, I am terribly sorry my dear daughters-in-love). I mistakenly thought I was keeping them from stumbling over some of the same obstacles I had at their age. Though some of that may be true, my story is not theirs. God’s plan for their life is unique to them and while I can be a mentor and help when asked, I am not God. And the same goes for the rest of those that the Lord brings into my life.
God can use me to fulfill HIS plan but is not interested in me using Him to fulfill mine. He is God, I am not.
I referred to a quote by C.S. Lewis on Monday that said: “It was through pride that the devil became the devil….”. This really spoke to me. I started looking through the Scriptures related to every reference to the devil. I found this set of scripture in Ezekiel that many theologians believe is talking not only about the King of Tyre, but also refers to Satan. For the sake of this blog post’s length, I ask that you open your Bible and read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 28 for yourself.
In the meantime, here are just a few verses from that chapter that really let me know how prideful I had become. Of course, back then, I did not recognize my feelings as that of pride. I was completely blinded by my own boastful thoughts.
“In the pride of your heart you say, I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a mortal and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. Ezekiel 28:1-2 (TNIV)
“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So, I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” Ezekiel 28:17 (TNIV)
In closing, I want to quote from the “True Identity Study Bible” I have.
“Pride is a sneaky thing. It can masquerade as something more acceptable sounding such as self-reliance, independence, or self-confidence. Pride infiltrates your heart, and before you even realize it, you may be making decisions, without asking God for guidance first. Pride causes you to be self-sufficient rather than God dependent and it persuades you to justify your sin. Pride implies that God doesn’t know best, but you do. Pride tells you that all your accomplishments were your doing.”
I am so thankful that God is always there, always faithful, and forever ready to welcome me to His embrace. Even when I foolishly think I’ve got my life under control and that He can tend to the really important business of fixing the rest of the world, He forgives me.
I often imagine Him shaking His head, like we parents do with our own kids, at the mess I am making as He sends along another sister to gently remind me that I’m not all that I think I am. So, the next time pride tries to insinuate itself into my life, I will remind myself there is only one God and I am not Him. I pray, dear sister, that you will too.
You see the price of pride is self-destruction. God does not want that for us. He wants us to trade our ashes for beauty. He does not want us to go through this life without Him leading the way. He loves us that much.
Written by Rhonda Carlsen
Scriptures taken from TNIV.
Today’s New International Version (TNIV). Zondervan; New Ed edition (February 7, 2005)
True Identity: The Bible for Women (NIV): Becoming Who You Are in Christ. Zondervan (March 29, 2009)