Saturday, January 13, 2007

No Condemnation

This morning, I want to talk about something that I fail in ALL THE TIME. I want to talk about pride and it's ugliness in relation to other people. First, lets start with the verse of the day, found in Romans 8:1.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

So why is it that so often, I find myself criticizing other people's decisions and life choices? I don't criticize right to them, but about them. Mostly in my head, but sometimes it will come up in conversations with my husband or family members. And I think that I am not alone. Pride is an ugly thing, and so often I think that the choices we have made are the best choices, and that everyone should make the same ones. I criticize people who have kids close together in age, because we waited a few years in between, and our kids get along immensely. I criticize people with just one child or with more than two children, because we have two, and that's perfect for us. I criticize people who home school, because our public school here is really excellent, and our daughter is thriving. Yet I don't criticize all home schooled kids, because I do know a couple who it works very well for. Sometimes I criticize people who shop at Wal-Mart for everything, because a lot of their merchandise is poorly made, even though it's what some people can afford.

The Bible has lots to say about Pride. It's actually one of the infamous Seven Deadly Sins. Yet it's so easy to get caught up in it. Here is a verse from Deuteronomy 8:17-20,

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Obadiah 1:3 says this:

3 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?'

I pray that God can bring me back down to the ground and temper this criticism I have for other people. It's almost as if part of me thinks that I am in a competition. Competition for what? Who can say, but I know it's not healthy or good for relationships with other people. As Christians we should be supporting each other and lifting each other up- regardless of where we are in our lives. Yet I see it all the time, when we visit other churches in the area, there is almost an air of importance, the "you should come to this church and come to a real church" attitude. Why do we all think we are the best and that our choices are the best? Not only is it non-supportive of other Christians to think this way, it's detrimental to everyone. Especially to the unsaved, who maybe watch these things from afar. It scares them away from God and church. And that is a travesty for sure.

I am praying earnestly that God will remove this sense of pride from my heart. It's okay to be proud of some things (my children come to mind) but not when that pride leads to snobbery of others. I wonder how many people have come to visit our church and walked away because I didn't smile and say hello to them. I know I'm just one person... but one person can make a difference. Instead of looking at the back of some one's head and thinking their hair is not-quite perfect that day, I can pray for them, pray for any needs they have. I pray that God can bring me down a notch and give me the desire to be more open and friendly. Because me being quiet and reserved may appear to be pride and indifference. And that's the last thing I want.


Claire said...

This is such a struggle everyday. I pray that God humbles me and removes my pride so that I may mirror HIM and give Him glory.

Erika said...

Part of the struggle I have (I think) is that there are different forms of pride, and so often humbleness is confused with low self-esteem. i don't know, this is definitely one of those daily struggles.