Christian woman

When Pride Turns Blessings into Rights

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The thing about working for large public corporations is that unless you are very high up, you are at the mercy of the decision makers’ whims. We all understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Likewise, it is understood that perfect justice is just not possible in human terms. Regardless, I still find myself in a state of unfounded anger when things are “just not fair”. If you are the lowest on the totem pole like myself, changing circumstances at work can feel like you’re drifting aimlessly with the tide.

This morning I discovered that a certain work benefit was being taken away and replaced with something inferior. That old familiar pang of helplessness mixed with anger reared its ugly head. Nevermind the objective reason that it is a for-profit company reallocating money from one thing to another. I felt indignant, affronted, entitled to the previous level of benefits I had enjoyed before. I am neither the newest nor the oldest employee, nor the one with the most responsibility. Still somehow it was a personal insult in the face of my hard work and loyalty.

After I had a moment to cool down, I was convicted in my spirit that something else was going on inside. This job is steady. My pay is not bad. I have very good health benefits. I enjoy a healthy work-life balance. My management stands behind me and my coworkers are conscientious. I am good at what I do and while I don’t consider this job my purpose in life, I believe it is preparing me for what is next. Why then was I so outraged by such a small change of circumstance which, honestly, could be worse?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 

1 Peter 5:8

There’s a deep disconnect between what we believe we are entitled to and the ebb and flow of circumstance. Now I may only be a thirty-something millennial from southern California, but bear with me here: Pride is the root of sin everywhere. As citizens of the world we are steeped in this lie. Lenders, salespeople, marketing agencies, even your own trusted people will all tell you at some point that you deserve X simply because you exist. Maybelline declares, “You’re worth it”, and we believe that we are. But don’t miss the metamorphosis of a “blessing” into “right”. How can we guard against these false prophets of pride?

Be in the Word and prayer daily

Remember, prayer isn’t for changing our circumstances. It changes us as we engage with our Father and the Lord of Heaven. As we engage in prayer we get to know ourselves in relation to the Father and as we read the Bible little by little with an open heart and mind, we get to know God: his character, his truths, and the overarching story of redemption that he is bringing to completion with each passing moment. Let the Holy Spirit convict you and show you what this looks like. Don’t assume you have to do the same thing your friend does – this is your relationship so take ownership and watch how he grows you! 

Consider the Input

What do you willingly allow into your mind? (Movies, TV shows, social media, etc) What messages are you accepting whether intentionally or subconsciously? This is a personal question and the answers will vary wildly from one believer to the next, based on experience, sensitivity, and where you are in your faith journey. It is important to recognize that influence by the world on a believer is real. The enemy is really out there, and his greatest desire is to build up our tolerance for things that stand against God and his will for his children. Believers must take responsibility to actively monitor their own decisions and repent from disobedience.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

Proverbs 4:23

Filter each message through the Truth of Scripture 

We must be careful to examine the messages we are fed every day.  Even well-meaning words can be destructive if you don’t have a healthy biblical filter of God’s word. I confess I struggle with this too, sometimes life just comes at you so fast that you really don’t take time to stop and remember to do this. It’s not an excuse to rely on what other people say or write or post online. Don’t take even your Pastor’s word for it without checking to make sure it is accurate. 

What comes out of my heart manifests in certain ways, like unkind words, or pride building up that causes anger to overtake my mood. When I noticed myself reacting in these ways I can pretty much bet something is going on underneath the surface. It is a big red flag that something is going on that needs to be dealt with. What kind of benefit could I possibly deserve in my own merit? I have nothing to my name except for what my Father kindly and compassionately gives. Romans 3:23-24 says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Thankfully, believers have the Holy Spirit to communicate and convict us of these things.

Journaling Prompts

  • Where in my life do I feel entitled to a certain circumstance/blessing/outcome?
  • How does pride manifest itself in my heart over this situation?
  • What do I need to repent of and change?
Woman studying the bible and journaling about spiritual growth

Don’t (necessarily) follow your heart: Making faithful decisions that agree with the will of God

STRICTLY

Commonplace stock phrases like “follow your heart” are so prevalent in our culture that e don’t think twice when we see them plastered on greeting cards, posters, and children’s clothing. They sure sound positive, upright and true, but Jesus says something different. The sins that defile us, actually start with your heart.

“Out of a person’s heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:20-22).

The heart loves comfort & convenience above all

In school I had a friend whose parents were divorced, but had agreed to live together until the kids graduated. From where I was standing, they loathed each other and the air inside the house was fraught with tension. Their reasoning was that it was easier than having to deal with custody and cheaper than living apart. It may have seemed to work on the surface, but the arrangement still left deep wounds on the whole family. The heart does not want to be challenged or disturbed, and that shuts out any possibility for redemptive, albeit painful, work to be done. 

The heart can be blind to its own sin

Jeremiah 17:9 calls the human heart the most deceitful of all. Jesus talks about this too, in Luke 18:9-14 when he tells the parable about 2 men who prayed at the Temple. One, a Pharisee, proudly stood in a place of importance and prayed like this: “God, thank you that I am not a sinner like everyone else. I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I tithe 10%.” The other man was a despised tax collector. He prayed with eyes glued to the ground and beating his chest in sorrow like this: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus explains that it was the tax collector, and not the Pharisee who stood justified and innocent before God.

The Pharisee’s blindness to his own sin came from within in the form of pride and foolishness. I believe that the Pharisee honestly believed himself justified, but that’s not enough. By fully trusting his own heart’s judgement of himself (we always tend to minimize our sins to ourselves, don’t we?) he lost an opportunity to be made right before God.

To be successful, our hearts need solid truth for direction

The basis of the gospel is that we (and our hearts) are not good or innocent by default (Romans 3:10). Thus, we cannot be trusted to follow our hearts unless what we desire matches up with God’s will for us. How does one do that, exactly?

  1. Believe First, take heart! (ha) Remember that God has said, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”(Ez 36:26). He can do amazing work with our old broken hearts.
  2. Commit There is a decision facing you today. It may be large or small, but to the Lord, size doesn’t matter when it comes to obedience. Make a commitment to seek the right path to take. “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
  3. Seek The first place I go when I’m seeking wisdom from the Bible is usually the concordance in the back of my Bible (many popular bibles have them). Biblegateway.com and openBible.info are also excellent for quickly finding what you need.
  4. Ask This one sort of goes together with #3. Often it’s not the finding of the information that’s difficult, it’s the application of it. Even if you are pretty sure you know what you’re doing to do, it’s important to check yourself with the wisdom of another older believer. Stay in fellowship with one another through a church, a small group, and/or with a spiritual mentoring relationship with an older and trusted believer. I’m personally so thankful to have several such wise men and women in my life to whom I can go for direction.

Do you have a person or church family you trust for support? If not, I challenge you to reach out this week to someone like this. Remember that we all get off the path and need the support of our church family. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

God’s Word never changes and “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 timothy 3:16).

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Prayer: God, we praise you for your mercy on poor sinners like us. We pray that your Holy Spirit would help us to discern the difference between your direction and our own sinful direction for our lives. Show us how to recognize our need for your mercy. Let our hearts consistently move forward toward that perfection that we will have in Heaven with You.

Application Question: What decision is facing you today, and how are you going to search for the right way to go?

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy

Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy

Many of us see articles like this and feel guilty for not being able to add one more thing to our daily checklist – when it already feels so heavy. It’s not news after all, and I know I definitely think about the fact that I’m not spending enough time with my Lord every day.

However, rather than focusing on the fails, let’s choose to focus on the desires. “Lord, I desire to know you though prayer and biblical study, but I’m having trouble finding the right moment for it.” Jesus will not close His ears to a heart felt prayer like this. He already knows, and most importantly, he LOVES to respond. Desire closeness in your heart…

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

Luke 12:34

How to make God rejoice!

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Proverbs is full of wisdom, but nothing strikes me more than this little passage:

My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak what is right. 

Prov 23:15-16

It says that if we choose God’s will, His heart will be glad and His inmost being will rejoice. That’s a pretty big statement to make. My obedience can actually make the God of the universe rejoice in his inmost being. Imagine getting your child to finally make the decision on his own to put effort into his homework. He is acting on wisdom given to him from someone wiser than him. That must be what God feels like times infinity when I am obedient.

Tonight I’m just meditating on the wisdom of Proverbs, and thinking about how I can bring these into my active daily life more intentionally.