Devotional by Kelly Blum
I was VERY frustrated a few weeks ago. I was working in a group setting, and nothing seemed to be going right. Everyone else was doing fine, but I couldn’t get anything to work, and I had a time limit. It seemed as though no one would help me, and eventually I just ended up crying and giving up. When thinking over the situation later, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the one theme running through all of my thoughts.
That one theme–I was being prideful. I emotionally felt broken and inferior and “humbled”. Yet, it was right there. I wanted to be better. I wanted others to look up to me. I wanted to be strong. Every reason I was upset was about me.
So what is pride? The dictionary says pride is “The quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself”. I like to paraphrase that by saying pride is thinking about yourself more than you think about God and others. According to Galatians, there are two different ways that pride is displayed. And I’ll be honest. I struggle a LOT with both.
Let us not become conceited[prideful], provoking one another, envying one another. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Provoking–First, pride is thinking you’re better than others. This can be pride in your talents, grades, possessions, family, wealth, appearance, etc. You cannot place your identity in the compliments you may receive. When you compare yourself to others and believe that somehow you come out ahead, it’s pride. The verses also remind us to keep watch on ourselves when we restore others. We should never think we are good enough to be out of reach of temptations.
Envying–Second, pride is thinking that others are better than you. It may not make much sense at first, but let’s look at this. When you’re feeling inferior, you’re thinking more about your own needs and status than about God or others. There’s a quote that says “Humility isn’t thinking less about yourself. It’s thinking about yourself less.” As you cannot place your identity in compliments, you also cannot place your identity in criticism. When you are spending time worrying about how you’re NOT talented enough, NOT attractive enough, NOT smart enough…you’re still placing all your thoughts on yourself. You’re saying that you deserve to be better. You’re saying that God didn’t make you right, and He should’ve done things your way. You’re saying that worrying about how you may be inferior is more important than giving love in all situations.
So how does God want us to live, if not pridefully? Of course, the easy answer is that we should live humbly, but what does that look like? There are so many verses on this, and I encourage you to do your own study into this topic. However, for now, just take a look at the following verses.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God made people in His own image, and He loves all of us unconditionally. On the other hand, we are all sinners, and there are no sins that are bigger than other sins. One sin, and you’ve fallen short. There is no room for comparisons once you look at the truths of the Bible. Everyone has successes. Rejoice in them! Everyone has failures. Come alongside each other and build each other up through them.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
A couple months ago, my pastor made this statement: The question is “How am I loving others?” It isn’t “How am I being loved?” To live humbly is to put all of your energy towards loving God and loving others. You’ll be amazed what life is like when you are no longer worried about your own status (high or low), but rather are content in the new identity that Christ has given you.