At the beginning of the year, I prayed about these two things:
That I would be humbled
That I would learn to love wholeheartedly
Why did I pray for these things? Simple. I am a prideful and at times, unloving human.
I prayed for these two things separately. At the time, they didn’t seem to be interconnected, but as I have discovered, boy oh boy are they inextricably connected.
Behind every wilful sin, every conscious act of disobedience to God, is a presumption that what God, or his rightful authority (whether government, school, employer or parent) says is best for the masses around us need not apply to us.
We are born with the belief that we are the best arbiters of righteousness and justice for ourselves, and that we are the most reliable definers and appliers of love, honour, and respect.
In short, we believe we are exceptional. Now, this can be taken a few ways. I am saying that there are times when we think we are extraordinarily gifted, however, I also mean exceptional as in what applies to most people doesn’t apply to me.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- I’m running late, and I don’t want to be caught out as being disorganised or inconsiderate, so I will make myself the exception to the speed limit instituted for the safety of everyone else (unless I see a speed camera)
- Although I know Matthew chapter 7, verse 12, to be the ‘Golden Rule’, and I also know that we should be slow to anger (James chapter 1, verse 19), I am so angry right now, so I am just going to say whatever comes to my mind (and make myself the exception). Don’t take offense, I mean, you shouldn’t take offense, because this is the way I am (but if you speak rudely to me, you should understand that I will definitely take offense).
- Look, I may be underage for consuming alcohol, but hey, I literally won’t be able to enjoy the party without a few sneaky bevs. I maybe, definitely won’t, probably will, get drunk. This night will be the one exception. I will make myself the exception.
We could go on and on, couldn’t we? I could write a book just about my exceptions, and perhaps I should.
That which throughout history has been recognised as the deadliest of vices is now almost celebrated as a virtue in our culture. Pride and arrogance are conspicuous among people like you and me. Yeah – you and me.
Perhaps I should have said, “Pride and arrogance are conspicuous among the elite, the successful, the famous, my next-door neighbour and my friends”. But it doesn’t work like that. It never has. We love to feed ourselves with this baloney.
We believe this because we can so clearly see it in others, especially when their self-centred, presumptuous baloney affects us. No one really likes it when someone speeds past us, speaks harshly to us or when underage drinking is happening around us. When others behave this way, we are quick to point it out for what it is – selfish pride.
Yet we continue to indulge in our own.
The exceptional weight
And this kind of pride weighs us down (Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1). As we become spiritually heavy, it opens our heart-door to countless sins with the rationalisation that they won’t do any damage.
Few of us realise how dangerous it is to our souls and how greatly it hinders our intimacy with God and love for others. So, we must all pick up these close-clinging sin-weights and learn to lay them aside, to shake them off as quickly as possible (Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1).
We pick them up because they appear to be keys to the freedom of self-determined autonomy. But they end up being heavy self-induced chains that rob us of the true joy that only comes as we begin to humble ourselves, and serve, love and honour others as ourselves (Matthew chapter 22, verse 39).
But thank goodness for Jesus! He came to liberate us from exceptional pride so we can step into humble, healthy and truly-free lives as children of God (Romans chapter 8, verse 21). As we begin to honestly confess our pride to God and repent of the manifestations of pride we do see, we learn something good.
We are not exceptional. For that kind of exceptional behaviour is only self-consuming. Those who are freed from the weight of pride find the glorious, joyful, expansive and love-filled life of humility. And that is very good news.
Emily Black is passionate about writing and seeks to write raw, authentic and timely pieces that disturb and comfort, engage justice and fundamentally empower. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne and actively desires to pursue a life of untainted freedom through Jesus Christ.
Emily Black’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emily-black.html