"Humility means continual death of self. Continual death of self perfects humility. God honors obedience, not the strife of the flesh. What you tolerate in the flesh, you will not get rid of - despise your chains." -Jackie Jacobson
Pride is an ongoing struggle that we all face and I feel it is appropriate to touch on it in this series. I think you will see (and maybe be surprised) how working through pride can help in our journey toward intimacy with Christ. It is a constant battle in my life and something that takes daily work ... As a teenager I used pride to cover up my insecurities and make myself feel superior over others. This carried over into my adult life and I only recently realized that I wasn't just making myself "feel good" ... I was struggling with pride and it was a serious stronghold in my life.
Comparing myself with others around me I struggled with feelings of insecurity and insignificance. I was always concerned with what everyone else was doing and more importantly what they thought of me. I remember telling people who were nervous about going into certain situations to just "follow my lead" and walk into the room and act like a complete snob. I would instruct, "Act superior to everyone else and look down on them and then not only will those around you feel insignificant, you will feel power." How terrible is that?! Unfortunately I believed in this method and used it for years. My pride went on to manifest itself in new ways as I dealt with different insecurities. When I began to feel inferior I shut out friends and built walls around myself so it was impossible for them to get in. I would do things to purposely hurt others so that I wouldn't feel hurt. [Sigh] ... Sadly, I played this sick cycle game for a long time.
I took a class last year and one of the topics we discussed was pride. As the instructor went on and on, I sank further and further into my chair. My pride was so much deeper than I realized. It had destroyed friendships and caused much discord. Areas in which I believed I was stronger and more secure were actually areas of weakness and insecurity. Pride was not a handle to hold myself up with but merely a stumbling block that was constantly causing me to fall down. I truly hadn't realized that what I was doing was prideful ... I believed I was surviving the best way I knew how ... I was protecting myself. Wrong! I was only hindering myself from discovering the joys that Jesus had for me. Pride is a serious sin that everyone struggles with in some way or another. Maybe you do not struggle with pride to the extreme that I had, but I know that there isn't one of you out there that hasn't dealt with it in some fashion at some point in your life.
Why is pride so awful? How does it keep us from intimacy with Christ? What's the big deal? In the Bible we are called to follow Christ's example by loving as He loves and living as He lived. When we let foolish pride take over our hearts we are keeping Christ at arms length which leaves Him unable to work at His full potential in our lives. "As believers we are called to exercise humility, self control and meekness. It is humility that triggers God's power to manifest" -Jackie Jacobsen. Christ can do amazing things in our life when we humble ourselves at His feet.
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10
By humbling ourselves we are admitting to Him that we need Him and that we cannot face our struggles and insecurities alone. So many of us would like to think that we can handle this life without help, but if we are honest with ourselves we know it is impossible to live a fulfilling life without Him. When we submit our pride to Him we allow ourselves to grow in relationship with Him. As we grow in relationship with Him we learn to depend on Him for support and security rather than our own methods. We also grow in our relationships with others.
The chief characteristic and root of Jesus' humble character was that He constantly concealed His worth. Being completely stripped and humbled before His Father first and foremost, made it possible for Him to take a humble position before men as a servant. Without the humble and lowly position Jesus took before man there would be: no possibility of sinlessness or righteousness, no crucifixion- no perfect blood sacrifice- no redemption for mankind, and no healings or deliverances; no words of prophecy, knowledge or miracles. - Jackie Jacobson.
Pride is something that will always be a constant battle in our lives. We need to be adamantly aware of it and put a stop to it when it starts to manifest in our everyday situations. It can come in big waves like the ways that I mentioned I dealt with it. But it can also strike in small, less noticeable ways. I fall under several of the categories of prideful behavior below ... where do you fall? Do you find yourself constantly giving your own two cents (aka, the know it all)? When others share with you about their own life do you find yourself comparing your own stories and situations without listening to what they are saying? Do you struggle with jealousy? Do you struggle with unhealthy rivalry? Are you able to give yourself to Jesus, but find it hard to give yourself to others? Do you drop influential names and connections? Is it hard for you to take correction or submit to authority? Do you flaunt money or possessions?
Challenge: Day one, go one hour without talking about yourself. Stay in communication with others but take time to listen to them without bringing up your own experiences even if they are they similar to the story you are listening to. Do not compare, complain or give advice- just listen. Day two, repeat the above for half of the day. Day three, go the entire day doing this. This small lesson in learning to put others first and setting ourselves aside is hard but it allows us to practice replacing pride with humility. Watch how people respond when you give them your all. As we learn to submit our pride in small ways we become more aware when it creeps up in larger ways. I am going to practice this too and will be sharing and I am so anxious to hear how this experiment goes for you too! Share your experiences, please!
Prayer: LORD, I ask that You reveal to me all of the ways that pride is influencing my everyday life. Please forgive me for the ways that I have allowed pride to rule in my life. Forgive my unwillingness to let go of self. Help me to be able to humbly submit my pride at your feet. Please give me the strength to tackle this difficult area and help keep me on the path to righteousness. I pray God, that you heal the areas in my life that cause me to be prideful ... shine your grace and forgiveness on me and allow me to experience Your joyful filling up of the Holy Spirit. Continue to walk with me and lead me to the places where I can grow deeper in my relationship with You. Amen.
Quotations and italicized segments other then verses and the prayer are taken from Jackie Jacobson's Led By The Spirit book.