Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pride: A Preseason for Sin

by C.D. Murray

As apart of my ongoing sanctification and cleansing GOD has enlightened me to a new glaring blemish on the face staring back at me in the James 1 mirror. Though seemingly camouflaged from my own gaze, this mark of imperfection is easily spotted by both those who know me like family and those who could not tell you my first name alike. The infection in this vessel made for GOD's glory is better known as my pride. So without further delay here are 10 principles to overcoming pride in the life of a believer...

No. No. No. This is not that, I am not writing this as a victorious champion who's come home  from boat racing pride in the championship of life but rather as a defeated underachiever who wants desperately to climb out of the cellar dwelling I have experienced for much of my regenerated life. I am consistently the Washington Generals to pride's Harlem Globetrotters (honestly I was going to say Utah Jazz to the rest of the NBA but it hurt my you know what too much). This post is an attempt to scout out the main competitor in my heart for the affection and attention that is eternally purposed for GOD and ultimately start putting some more W's in the standings column. So lets jump in and learn more about this most dangerous of opponents...

Defining, and understanding the enemy.

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

Pride is essentially thinking of ourselves more highly and more often than we ought to. It causes us to live in a false reality with false interpretations, unrealistic expectation as we  reach in vain to become the deity of our lives that we do not deserve to be . It is in our heart that pride plays out an exhibition for how sin will be executed when it counts.  It is the engine that drives our sin into action, shifting gears as it pulls our mind, heart and body further and further from the worship of GOD that each of these were meant for and towards ourselves. It distracts, it seeks, it destroys, it conquers and all this without a hint of remorse for the destruction in its wake. Don't agree with me? Well please allow me to demonstrate by handing the keyboard over to the very subject of this report and allowing it to assess the 10 commandments given to us by the GOD of all existence for our safety and joy.

1. Thou shall have no other GOD's before me.

That's fine, as long as you understand who's in charge here. Of course I mean Me.
2. You shall not make or worship any idols.
Listen I need to worship but I need a god to be more easily manipulated than the one of the Bible, I mean how else am I supposed to get what I want and need?       
3.Thou shall not take my name in vein
I was only borrowing it for something I needed. You know I wouldn't say that unless it really was necessary, I swear to..whoops.
4. Devote 1 day a week to resting in me
But then I only get 6 for supporting and maintaining my lifestyle, what a ripoff !
5. Honor your father and mother
Are you serious? Have you met these people?
6. You shall not murder
But if they go on living Ill be confronted with how they didn't give me what i think I deserve and everyone will assume I'm weak.
7. You shall not commit adultery
Just one woman for my whole life? But what if she's not good enough to meet my expectations? What if she ages and has imperfections like me ?
8. You shall not steal 
But I deserve it more than they do!
9. You shall not bear false witness 
Listen, I know which "truth" is best in these situations.
10. You shall not covet
Please refer to  my response to #8, and may I add that all of these seem in my estimation to not be in the interest of my happiness and comfort

Do you see it now? Inward attitudes lead to outward actions. The reason why sin is so hard to overcome is because it makes its home in our hearts, nourishing itself on our pride until it is strong enough to go out into our actions and do some killing, (Figuratively. Well, sometimes figuratively). It kills relationships, kills community, kills evangelism, kills worship and slowly but surely kills its host as it destroys all that oppose it. GOD hates it because pride is solely responsible for everything in the world that HE is not and he is the only one who fully understands its treachery. Unjust, unloving, uncaring, and unrighteous it somehow has gained a faithful following. HE has surely overcome it and the world but those who love HIM still tend to act like those who don't and operate under it's precepts from time to time. Acting as if HIS banner has not been raised in rafters of all eternity we allow ourselves to be defeated. We try to switch the divine priority of things in hopes of gaining a false sense of control and identity. Like an Eagles fan who wins the Superbowl on his Xbox so he can see what it feels like, Go Cowboys!... Yo, excuse me I'm writing this not you, you've said quite enough in this as it is. But in its interruption it reveals the very character of pride's  nature mainly Hooray for me and (I cant and wouldn't type this word in a Christian blog post) you!

Identifying Pride's weaknesses  

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.- Proverbs 11:2

Now that we've viewed its strengths, let us review its weaknesses. So in order for us to understand what defeats pride we must first dispel the individualistic, selfish, stubborn, every man is an island and I don't take no (another word I'm not typing) from anybody attitude that our current American culture has set up as the apex of societal nirvana. Not to go too far down this CNN vs. Fox news rabbit trail but that's not what this country was built on, it was for the most part built by men who believed they were fulfilling GOD's will  and on the idea that communities ought to have a say in how and by whom they should be governed. But that's another post for another time (if Fox or CNN hires me, so never). So back to our purpose of identifying points of weakness in our foe: In order to accomplish this we must first understand that contrary to every one of the me generation's battle songs you may have heard we have an overpowering natural inclination to submission. We, to put it simply, were meant to be subjects in a Kingdom, we were meant to be contributing instruments to something that is greater than ourselves. But like everything else we do apart from GOD we take what is good and corrupt it.  Take for instance our metaphoric arena of sport that this post is drenched in. We show up to watch team of men with a certain color of jersey on put the beat down on another group of men with a different color of jersey on. We cheer, we boo, we rest our emotions on their every move all so we can find our friend who cheers or the other guys and tell them why there choice of men in a particular color of  jersey suck. Without running a single play we feel apart of something bigger and find fulfillment in that... Until the next weeks loss when the Saints put up 40 first downs on us.   Sorry let it out for a sec, but you can see our natural desire to be apart of a following.  We need to serve something but simply have chosen to be subjects or slaves to our sin, pride, sports teams, possessions, work etc.  in place of the one true GOD. Pride's greatest weakness is the fact that it cannot reign in the heart that is focused on GOD's will, love and HIS commands, more specifically the two commands JESUS pointed out as summing the whole. Of-course I'm speaking of Mark 12:28-34 Loving GOD with every fiber of our being and loving our neighbors as ourselves. In loving GOD with our all we will serve our neighbors and in serving our neighbors we declare our love for GOD. You see in mans kingdom we are made less and sacrifice so that one of our neighbors can rule the rest of us and live lavishly. Because we are serving mere flawed humans we rightly see this as errant but miss the fact that we still long for a kingdom to serve. In GOD's kingdom we are all given more value and more blessing because we serve a greater immutable, infallible purpose as we serve each other. There is no elevation of status, no worry of not getting our just due because the only one given dues and higher honor is HE who truly created and deserves it. In aligning with HIS glorification we ourselves are blessed without focusing on acquiring glory for ourselves alone. Beautiful, isn't it? This complex yet simple system of self fulfillment rests on HE who can truly provide it and will not corrupt it. In light of all this our anthem should be "less of me, more of we, and all for HE". Pride cannot stand against that kind of humility or community and because of knowing its impending defeat will fight every step of the way to getting there. Be aware.

Game-planning for Application

And now time for the 10 principles... Honestly, I don't have them, all I can say is there is much wisdom to be gained in GOD's word, constant prayer and surrounding yourself with GOD loving people who will lovingly call you out when your being a maniacal pride-iac. We would like to think of our pride as a detachable prosthetic that we can remove with turn of a mechanism but honestly I've found mine to be more like a tumor in need of invasive surgery. It has taken moments of great pain and failure to recognize and remove it and the more I cut out the more THE HOLY SPIRIT reveals its existence in the inner most depths of my being.  But I find my hope in this:   
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.- Hebrews 13:20-21

One day we who believe will be free.

by Chris Murray