Pride is such a tricky, sticky little thing. And, I have a lot of it. I always have.
You see, I learned at a young age to be good. I was the girl who was known as a goody two shoes in elementary school, and a killjoy in high school. I was a “super godly girl” in college and a church loving, good-clinging young adult. I was so proud of myself.
Once I had birthed a few babies and had figured life out a little bit better, I realized that perfection isn’t what people want in a friend or a wife or a mother. And, I began to confess my imperfections. I began to reveal some of the ways that I really did not have it together. It was terrifying and freeing. And, it left a little room in my good little life for demonstrations of God’s grace. I was finally able to see that any good in me was the result of what God was doing, not my iron-willed resolve to be the good girl.
Yet, even now, pushing 40 years old, I feel that pride creeping back in all kinds of ways. One of those ridiculous ways is the old car that I drive. Now, my minivan is 10 years old. It’s not really that old in regular car years, but in minivan years, that’s more like 25 years. This thing has been puked on, spilled in, sprayed by multiple skunks, has peeling paint all over it and a crusty pro-life bumper sticker on the back. I’m telling you, it’s the ultimate super godly mom mobile. And, I look at that once shiny car (which I love–heated seats, y’all.) and I just feel myself getting all prideful that we aren’t spending money on a nicer car.
Pride can go that way, too, you know. Some people have pride in their nice cars. And some have pride in their old ones. And, both are wrong.
The things we have, things we own, things we use… who cares how much they cost or what brand they are or if we’re minimalists or big spenders? We have no room for pride in anything in our lives–nothing, I tell you, but in the cross of Jesus Christ. That is worth bragging about. That’s worth talking about. The mission of Christianity is worth putting money into. And, the rest?
Who really cares?
We have no talents. They all belong to Jesus. We have no possessions. They’re all His. We have no abilities. Just what He does through us. We have no reason to be proud of ourselves. Strip away what belongs to Him, and what are we left with? Just our sin.
Not really something to be bragging about.
So, before I and the rest of you super godly greats out there start getting all starry eyed about what we have and what we don’t have and what we do and what we don’t do, let us all remember that what we really are, without Jesus, is just a big ball of sinful mess. And, you can’t dress that up with a Cadillac or make it look a little more endearing with a crusty minivan.
When we get caught up in our goodness, we feel proud of ourselves. Look at what we put on Facebook. Just take a look at how quickly we brag on our good decisions. Look at how often we boast in our own good works, as if we are especially good underneath the gracious blanket of Jesus Christ that mercifully covers us.
Our pride is killing us as much as all of those things we haughtily refrain from doing would. But, somehow we consider it righteous to be proud of ourselves. I would never read that book, we say. I would never spend that kind of money, we boast. I would never think that way, we post on Facebook. And, before we know it, we look back at our social media activity, and we see it. We are so very proud of ourselves.
Believe me, I speak to you as the Pride Queen. But, please hear me when I tell you that we have got to stop trying to steal glory from God by enjoying our own goodness. We were made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and we settle instead for trying to convince ourselves that we are pretty great, too.
He alone is good. He alone is worthy. He is the only source of light. In Him is no darkness at all. In me? Darkness. But, He chases it away with His holiness and righteousness. And when He does that? All I can seem to do is pat myself on the back.
Listen, I’m not arguing the greatness of being good. God gives us real choices. We have the responsibility to choose according to His word. Sometimes we do that well, and sometimes not so well. But, our sanctification as followers of Christ is not our doing. We can reach for it (because the Holy Spirit puts the desire in us), we can ask for it, and we can endure the process of being changed and refined in heart and soul, all of which is accomplished by God. He allows us the chance to participate in that growth. But, whatever good we do is only the result of His goodness inside of us.
So, today, I would like to lay down (again) the pride that loves entangling me, and I pray that Jesus will shine through me despite my tendencies to try to turn off the sunshine of His goodness and turn on the fluorescent bulb of mine. All honor and glory is His.