In preparation for Easter, as Wendy posts on Tuesdays about the Joy set before Christ, I will post on Fridays about 7 things that kill joy and the antidote God prescribes against each. I am using the help of a book by desiring God ministries called Killjoys.
Our family sat around the campfire under a black and starlit, Michigan sky. After the flurry of helping get marshmallows roasted and slapped between crackers for every child, there was a lull. I started to make myself a s'more. I toasted my marshmallows well-enough, I unwrapped my chocolate pieces, then reached quick to get my graham crackers.
Eww! Something not right in that box.
Did one of the kids drop a sticky marshmallow in it? Hmmmn, Nope. What I felt wasn't sticky.
What did I feel? It was smooth...and cool...and SLIMY. What on earth could be smooth and cool and slimy...and in my graham cracker box?
I high-stepped myself over to the light to see exactly what it was.
As I looked down to check out the box, two sets of beady eyes on sticks seemed to look back at me. I can't really stomach critters at a distance little lone on my food, staring up at me. I proceeded to throw the box down and carry on like a true girly-girl. Eww! Eww! Eww!
Of course we took a picture. Disgusting, right?
So what do two giant garden slugs (googled it) have to do with how Pride Kills Joy, you may ask?
As I thought about this slug-encounter afterwards, I couldn't put my finger on why I was so grossed out. Other than all of the obvious reasons, I guess it came down to these slugs' insidious way of creeping up and around in the pitch black. Did they smell the food from the treeline? Was it pure accident that they slinked into our graham cracker box? Whatever the case, it seemed very deliberate and it creeped me out.
I thought of a talk I had heard about sin and how it doesn't usually grow in bounds and leaps, but rather slyly enters our lives in careful creeps. I guess all sin can do this, but maybe none quite like the sin of pride. Pride can straight up, rear it's ugly head like a boasting loudmouth, but it can also show up like a creeping, insidious slug.
Pride may be the one sin that is most often with us and always near--no matter what our life looks like. You can be moving along faithfully: serving others joyfully, keeping in step with the Spirit, or speaking the truth in love....and then you mindlessly stick your hand in the proverbial graham cracker box and BAM! you find pride has slinked into your thoughts and mind, and is staring you in the face.
Pride can be hard to spot, much less kill. Jonathan Edwards said
pride is "the most hidden, secret and deceitful of all sins."*
To say we don't struggle with pride is--well--prideful, right? So can we be honest and just say at the outset that we all have some dose of pride to address regularly? You might be asking, what is wrong with that? That is just a healthy self-esteem. Or maybe you are saying to yourself, I have a terrible sense of self. How could that be called pride?
In truth, self-promotion and self-absorption or, on the flip side, self-abasement and self-deprecation are all a sense of being consumed with the wrong thing in life....our SELF. God did not create us and save us to worship nor be consumed by our Selves. He created us and made us to follow him so that we would worship HIM in spirit and truth and this makes him known among the nations.
If we seek to follow the way of Christ, we have to consider the sheer humility that the author of our faith exhibited. He left his glory in heaven--glory we cannot begin to fathom. His glory is such that when seen--even in the smallest amounts, men remove shoes and bow down, they recognize their unclean lips and tear their clothes in repentance, they cry out "Woe is me, I am undone!" That is some kind of holy, glory!
Jesus laid aside that kind of glory and honor and humbled himself to be born of a woman, born under law. He yielded himself to the constraints of time, fatigue, hunger, sickness, temptation, shame, scoffing and finally, crucifixion. That is humility.
We know God opposes the proud.
"For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up--and it shall be brought low" (Isaiah 2:12)
"The Lord alone will be exalted in that day" (Isaiah 2:11)
But He gives grace to the humble.
It is good for us to feel how dependent we are spiritually, because then we will see the world and ourselves rightly.*
Scripture teaches the antidote for pride is humility...self-forgetfulness. In thinking of ourselves less and of Him rightly, we are kept at the foot of the cross. It is in recognizing we have done nothing that qualifies us for the gift of eternal life, but because of His great mercy, we are saved and changed. All glory to God!
One of the first steps in coming to Christ is the fear of the Lord. It is the beginning of wisdom and the endpoint of pride. It recognizes there is no salvation apart from Jesus and it cries out "remember me when you enter your kingdom."
But there should also be a continual battle in the heart and mind of the Christian to combat pride. In talking with others--and I know in my own life, the fight against pride must increase as we gain in years and experience, because pride can grow easily in the soil of age and victory. Humility requires deliberate and continual actions which put one's Self at the end of the line, which esteems others better than one's Self, which lays down one's Self and picks up her cross to follow Christ, day by day, moment by moment. Fighting pride requires that we simultaneously pluck out our prideful thoughts/actions and plant the truth of God's word and his glory in our hearts and minds. So very difficult, but so very fruitful. So say the promises of God!
For our part, we must pray and ask the Spirit to open our eyes to more of God's glory, so that we are ever more in awe of him and ever less in awe of ourselves.*
In Christ's love,
*Quotes from Killjoys; Chapter 2; Pride, by Jason Meyer