I re-wrote a text twenty times yesterday as I found myself constantly convicted about my message. It oozed of pride, no matter how I worded it. Finally, I just deleted the message, and let my friend know that I looked forward to a future conversation in person with her. But now, I will need to guard my words during that conversation when the day comes.
Ok, so what is my problem? Pride of course. It was showing up in my need to promote and prove myself to a new acquaintance. I was subtly trying to better her and try to build a respect in her for me, by letting her know things about myself, that simply were not necessary.
Self-promotion is a sinful habit of mine of which I am more recently and acutely aware. Whether it is name-dropping, discussing my background or levels of education, talking about experiences, letting people know my gifts or talents, making sure people know that I already know something…pride creeps into my text messages and conversations, because it is clearly in my heart!
Pride is an acceptable sin. Since everyone is prideful, it is easy to overlook as one of those sins that we cannot overcome and that the blood of Christ has no power to make is victorious. Self-promotion is so widely accepted, that we expect it to be a large part of conversation.
I am still learning the ways that my heart revels in its pride. Whenever I tell someone about my children’s achievements or disabilities (preventing them from achieving). Even sharing the deepest, hardest events of my life can become a source of pride, if my motive in sharing that with someone else is self-serving. If I feel have suffered more than those around me, it can be a temptation to be prideful, and in a a way, one-up people. If I have experienced something others have not, such as travel or special experience that can be cause for pride for me. What we do for a living, our family values, the food we eat or don’t eat, the way we raise our children, the way we look, what we are good at doing and what we are terrible at doing, can all blossom into pride in our hearts.
Sometimes pride seeps out of our mouths as a prayer-request for something, we really want everyone to know we are doing. Sometimes pride comes out when we can’t resist saying how much we understand, just so we can tell our story. Pride oozes out of cracks of our hearts when we comment negatively speak of someone else (or negatively think of someone else)…all that is is thinking I am better than “so and so”.
In fact, anything in my heart or mind, that I do not see as a complete and utter gift of God, is pride.
Paul spoke directly about this in Galatians 6:14 when we proclaimed “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”
All that I am, have, have done…even my faith in Christ and my sanctification in Him is a complete result of His grace.
So what do I do when I am tempted to say a word that will promote myself instead of Christ? Well…first…I am learning to deeply consider that since those experiences and those gifts do not define me, they often do not need to be said. So yes….delete….delete…delete….
I am learning to ask myself when I talk….does this increase the cause of Christ? or does this increase the cause of me?
What defines me is Christ. And His work in me is what must increase. John the Baptist is a beautiful example of a life so focused on Christ. In John 3:25-30 we read:
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
What more can I say to improve upon that testimony? Only may it be the story of my heart as well.