I woke up this morning and got ready to go to our church’s prayer meeting. As I hopped in the car it occurred to me that my reasons for going were entirely wrong. I wanted to go to the prayer meeting to be noticed. I wanted to be seen as a young man who is trying to be godly – note the word Seen.
Obviously theres nothing wrong with being a young man and wanting to be godly. But the fact is that this wasn’t my desire. My desire was to be noticed. To be seen. To have people think “Oh, I love seeing Nat’s faith.” or “I love seeing how he comes to the prayer meetings every sunday morning”. In that moment I once again realised just how quickly and easily I let arrogance take root in my life. I don’t often notice it until it sprouts out and I take the time to look at my motives. But it’s there, and I need to battle it constantly.
And so immediately I had a dilemma. I wanted to go to the prayer meeting out of arrogance and self-centeredness – not out of a desire to glorify God, to pray to him and encourage his people. I had 3 options: I could go, put on my little facade of godliness and pretend like I hadn’t noticed my sinfulness and pride. I could not go, and then not have any chance of encouraging God’s people or spending that time in fellowship with them, or I could go and try to change my motives.
It seemed to me that option 1 and 2 are both out of the question. If I am truly one of God’s people I can’t just ignore my sin. I need to throw it off and run the race with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1). And I can’t do option 2 because then my bad motives will prevent me from serving God (and I’ll undoubtedly get proud about being ‘humble’ and dealing with my pride in such an ‘effective’ way). The only option that was left then was to go and to deal with my pride.
So I went.
But my question was how can I change my motives? How can I effectively deal with my pride? What steps can I take to fight against it. And I’m almost constantly stumped by that question.
And in God’s gracious providence he reminded me during the sermon of a way to work on it. The sermon was on Matthew 18:1-5, where the disciples ask Jesus who will be the greatest. In God’s perfect timing it was the passage for today, and it touched on exactly what I’d been convicted of: Pride.
What I was reminded of is crucial to dealing with pride: realising our state before God. I am a sinner. A wretched sinner who can’t even change his own motives. I’m an arrogant and ignorant rebel who has rejected God. And yet in his mercy he saved me. Not because of anything good in me. Not because he needed to. Not because I was worth saving. Jesus died for me – not because I am amazing – but because he is amazing. Not because I am worthy of being saved, but because he is glorious and he alone is worthy of all praise, and he saw fit to redeem me from my sin so I could praise him.
With that in mind – theres no reason or excuse for pride. There’s nothing good in me that I can offer God. Nothing I could do to save myself.
The first crucial step in dealing with pride is honesty with yourself and seeing from God’s perspective.
And from there our motives have to change – they need to be to honour God. We need to obey him out of love for him and thankfulness to him for all he’s done for us (which is a lot).
How are you going with pride? What motivates you to live a ‘godly’ life – is it a desire to be noticed by men, or a desire to honour God?