We live in a world that is driven by image, personal image. Several years ago I had the privilege of “borrowing” a brand new Corvette for a short time. Let me say that it was an incredible car and was a blast to drive… but it had a far more insidious impact on me. It fed my pride. I wanted others, especially those that knew me, to see me driving the car. I wanted the car next to me at the light to challenge me, so that I could dominate them. Pride had changed me, and it was not for the better.
This past week in our “No Excuses” series we looked at Moses’ experience with God at the burning bush. It is a passage where Moses offers excuses why he cannot do what God is asking. It is challenging passage for us if we will take the time to apply it to our own lives. Moses’ life up to this point had been marked by two seasons. The first was being raised as royalty in Pharaoh’s court with all its privileges. The second was as a blue collar worker taking care of his father-in-law’s herd. We learn that both of these periods lasted 40 years. Moses was 80 years old at the burning bush experience. Yet it was now that he was ready for God to use him.
There are many negative costs of pride. It destroys marriage, families, relationships and friendships. It uses people. It lives in a constant state of ongoing conflict, with daily stress and increasing paranoia. Pride also accentuates our blind spots to keep us from seeing our weakness and part in the problems we face. It keeps us from seeking help because that is viewed as a weakness. It causes us to always be right and to believe that others are always wrong. It leads us to think the worst of others while thinking the best of ourselves. Pride really is a manifestation of our self-focus. And what makes pride so dangerous is that we cannot see it in our lives, but others do.
The most significant cost of pride is that it puts us at odds with God. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b) The Bible reminds us that Moses was the humblest man alive. This statement reveals the power of God to work in Moses’ life, and our lives through difficult circumstances. I doubt that Moses would have fit that description during his time as a “grandson” to Pharaoh. The incident of him killing the Egyptian, in a sense, reflects his better than others attitude. Moses second 40 years of life stripped him of all those externals and allowed he to become the man described at the humblest man alive.
God calls us to “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:5–6) I wonder if we are willing to embrace the challenges that God brings into our lives. I wonder if we are willing to step back and let Him work. I wonder if we are willing to put others first, and own our areas of weakness. It is then that God can work in us and through us and that is why he saved us.
I learned a lot from that short time driving that brand new Corvette many years ago. I learned that how insidious pride is in my life and how careful I need to be. I’ve also learned through the challenges of life. And yet as I’ve struggled to listen to others and let God work, I discovered a peace that I could have never known if I was the boss. How about you? The challenge with humility is the moment you think you are humble, you are not!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson