The most humbling realization is to know one’s own pride. A truly prideful person is unaware, oblivious, and too busy peering down on others to see the pride within themselves. I know this because I have been that person. The funny thing is that I have found pride most within myself when I saw pride in others. It is the whole speck versus plank in the eye deal. But when the Holy Spirit convicts me of the pride in my heart I see clearly what was there all along- a delusion of the truth that God is on the throne and I am not.
Pride makes one feel in control. At least it does for me. It is territorial and self-protective, but really pride is completely self-destructive without repentance. Here is how pride rears its ugly head:
- Seeing others as personal threats instead of image bearers of God with unique destinies
- Seeking to elevate oneself over others, or at the expense of invested relationships
- Living in fear of man instead of the fear of God
- Micromanaging and making everything and everybody your business
I am reminded of Balaam striking his donkey because she made a fool of him. The Angel of the Lord caused great fear and the donkey ran away into a field. Balaam resisted the donkey and beat her several times. The Lord made the donkey speak, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” The Lord had an ass lead Balaam, breaking his pride. The Angel of the Lord, the very presence of God, would have killed both Balaam and his donkey had he forged on ahead to Moab without God’s instructions. The donkey had it right (see Numbers 22).
When we come to realize that God is not looking at us as something useful to Him because of something in us, but that He is doing something with us through Him for His glory then we understand our rightful place before both God and others. Because God uses dorks and debutantes. And both are equally impressive because they both bear God’s image and have great worth not because of who they are, but because of who He is. We are His workmanship- all of us.
So we do not need to hang our heads in defeat because we do not look like her, talk like her, have a business like her, or have status like her as if God needs all that to do anything with us. On the flip side, we do not need to parade our degrees, images, babies, possessions, homes, platforms, or calories burned either. God does not need any of it, and none of it edges any of us up in worth or purpose in God’s eyes. Life is not a competition with God, and He sees you even if no one else does. The Lord lifts up the humble after all.
In an image-driven, virtual-based, selfie culture we need a holy perspective that is grounded more in God’s Word and less in ourselves. Ya get me, millennials? This is not your mama talking–I am one of you (an older one, but a millennial nonetheless). The thing with Balaam was that he did what the Lord told him to do. He woke up and saddled his donkey for Moab, but he did so with the wrong motive. He looked obedient, but was eager to obey for material gain rather than spiritual submission. We can hashtag social justice, equality, love, and service till the cows come home, but while man looks on the outward appearance the Lord sees our hearts. We need not be concerned with whether or not they out there like what they see. The question we should be asking ourselves is “What does God see?”
Your life is not limiting to God. He is preparing you for His purpose. I used to think, “If only I went to that school, or got that degree, or tried out for that program, or did not do this that or the other then God could use me.” All the while God has shown me that He has been leading and using me all along, not only in the wheres, whos, whats, but also in the person He is shaping me to be. He is doing the same in and with you too. No matter your background, family of origin, where you were raised, your education, talents, physical appearance- the Lord will fulfill His purpose for you, though He may use those things, He needs none of it. He only asks that you let Him lead you. Don’t worry, He will lead you even if He decides to use an ass to do so.
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8