Today, on Day 8 of the fast we shared about suffering, specifically how as Christians – true Disciples of Christ, we read in the bible that we are to expect suffering, testing and temptation, as it is God’s way of refining and purifying us. Most of us do accept this and even embrace it. However, it seems that we now, whether through ignorance or negligence, have been deceived to think that refinement and purification is not only the sole purpose of suffering, but the main point of it as well. Here enters pride. Not the kind of pride that we see around us that ‘refuses to accept responsibility for failure but takes credit for success’, but a, dare I say it, post-modern Christian pride that simply says “I see what I’ve done God, I’m so weak, I’m really sorry…I will fix it. I will become better!”
Now for most of us, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this. In fact, many of us will fail to even see how this is pride at all. That is deception, it is false humility. This kind of pride is what is poisoning many brothers and sisters, in the faith, out there today. This kind of pride is pre-modern, individualistic, self-centered and relies on the sinner’s ‘ability to save themselves’.
What we fail to realize is that, alongside refinement and purification, suffering is a way for God to reveal to us that we are weak (and He is strong) and that we absolutely cannot do anything, pleasing to Him, without Him. Many well-meaning faith-filled Christians out there today have unconsciously believed more in themselves than in God – I mean really believe! Think about when you have failed:
- Firstly, do you realize that God’s grace and mercy can actually be the reason for your failure – because He wants to prevent you from succeeding in a way that will lead to pride.
- Secondly, do you acknowledge the fact that you need His help to succeed – in everything!
What about when you have succeeded:
- Firstly, do you realize that God has graced you with gifts that will lead to success – but that is for HIS glory, not your own fame and fortune.
- Secondly, He allows you to succeed because He is your father, who loves you and has plans to prosper you and give you hope! Not so that you can puff yourself up and think you’re too good for anyone else.
In both instances, God is humbling us.
When God takes you through something, be grateful that He is actively involved in your life. Do not, however, think that you can get yourself out of it. Humble yourself and realize that you cannot get yourself over the line, only He can! And when He does, give Him the credit! God has immeasurable and impossible standards for us, that’s because He knows that we need Him to get there!
Don’t believe me; don’t take my word for it, read your bible. Read Luke 22: 42 (NLT); when Jesus (being 100% man and 100% God) was faced with the reality of dying on the cross, He HUMBLED himself, cried out to God and said,
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
In other words, Jesus said “help me dad, I know this is what you want me to do, but I cannot do this without you!” If Jesus himself needed God to fulfill His purpose on this earth, how much more do we need Him to do the same?! Stop the pride. Similarly, when we succeed we need to realize that He is the source of that success. Stop the false humility.
Simply put, God allows us to go through tough times and also through amazing times – so that we can become great, but that greatness is not achieved through our own strength. Almighty God, in His infinite grace and mercy, gives you a test…and then gives the answers to the test as well! In Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 (NIV)
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction […] Now choose life […]”.
God wants us to succeed, but, even though we read this (time and time again) in His word, we fail to realize that we can only succeed in and through Him. We absolutely cannot do it ourselves. This fact is key to running this race and winning the prize – God’s glory. It is key to avoiding crippling discouragement and condemnation – when we have failed and also key to avoiding destructive pride – when we have succeeded. Like Nebuchadnezzar says in Daniel 4:37 (NIV), we should
“praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Whether success or failure, suffering or thriving, all is His will, all is Grace!