copyright Barb Harwood
Friday, July 3, 2015
Five Ways Pride and Ego May Still Exist
The amazing thing about pride and ego is that, even when we think they're gone, they can still be inside of us.
These are the ways I have deluded myself into thinking “it wasn’t about me” when in actuality it was still about me (maybe to a lesser degree than previously, but still present):
1. “I’m doing this for God.” I have been so sure that I was “in God’s will” that I missed my ego’s motivation entirely.
2. I compartmentalized “ministry,” “church attendance” and various movements and separated them, like the scenes of a play, one from another. In so doing, I held these things at arms length and evaluated my spirituality by them.
What went on in my life in between these “scenes” got lost in the Christian striving to be more and more “Christian.” In my pride, I wanted to measure up to what the current standard of being a “Christian” was. So even though I was meeting one on one with God every day, and reading my Bible, my mind and ego were easily distracted and led astray by doing all the things that “strong Christians” do.
It’s funny how competitive being a Christian can become, all thanks to our wanting to keep up with the Christian Joneses.
3. I asked God to bless what I determined “His will” to be.
Sometimes when we don’t get an answer to prayer, we plunge on ahead anyway, instead of waiting for God. This is tricky, because we can’t sit passively all our life, waiting for an answer from God. Sometimes no answer means “do whatever is good and aligns with Scripture.” But oftentimes it means: “I need you to be patient.”
Here’s the thing: every single time I’ve gotten ahead of God it was out of impatience on my part. Every time.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 bears this out:
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.”
The times that real ministry has happened has instead followed (not preceded) God putting something or someone on my heart who I would never have singled out myself. Certainly we pray for those around us that we are aware of. But when those we wouldn’t have thought up ourselves appear on our radar, or we find ourselves in a place where God is using us and we can’t remember getting there ourselves, we know ego and pride were not the motivation.
4. Ignoring “red flags.”
When we want something so bad, and it looks good on paper, we often ignore those little doubts or concerns that really ought to be addressed. Many times we say “Satan is attacking” and we won’t dare “give an inch to the devil” by even addressing these doubts.
I don’t know where we Christians ever got the idea that anything that would dissuade us from what we want to do or feel “called” to do is of the devil!
We forget that the Holy Spirit is to counsel and guide us. The Holy Spirit warns us all the time about sin, so why do we not believe the Holy Spirit can also warn us to not do something that may look perfectly fine on paper? Just because a ministry, potential spouse, church or service organization is legitimate in God’s eyes does not mean carte blanche for our involvement with it.
When there are red flags, we do well to stop attributing them to Satan and ask ourselves if they just might be a warning from the Holy Spirit.
5. Talking about our service, faith or church involvement as a “testimony” so others see Christ, when actually we are bragging.
There’s nothing wrong with faith discussions, or sharing what we’re up to. The point is motivation. Are we signing up for a mission trip so that we can talk about it with friends and family? Do we always manage to bring up how we are serving in every day conversations?
I used to justify this by saying that if other people can go on and on about their golf game or their politics, then I can go on and on about my faith. But wait. I am not supposed to be of the world. I’m not supposed to do things just because other people do them. I am not supposed to operate out of pride or a need for human affirmation.
Certainly our faith is not to be hidden:
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:15
Notice that the verse says “it” gives light. It’s not up to us, but the light. That light can shine quite well on it’s own power, which is Christ in us.
Abiding humbly in Christ is the goal, whether other people notice or not. It’s not our job to get their attention. Christ will do that on His terms and His timetable:
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37
With that assurance, we have the freedom of being released from the burden and limitation of pride and ego and can become content to just be a follower of Christ.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
1 Corinthians 13:4
“The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’” Obadiah 1:3
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8
“The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”