(Over my next few posts, we’ll be looking at pride and all that entails for us as Christians and as speakers. Parts of these posts are excerpts from my women’s book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe. I hope they speak to you as much as they did to me.)
As a little girl, I recognized the power in achievement. I wanted to be the best, to be noticed and appreciated for my skills and abilities. And even as the shortest student in my class, I fought for–and often won–a place in the hierarchy of leadership. Kids usually wanted me on their team.
I knew God would want me on His team, too. So, when I was nine or ten years old, I walked down the aisle of my church and announced my plans to become a missionary. Even though I had no idea what salvation was, I promised God I would go anywhere and tell others about Him if he would just do one little, itsy-bitsy thing–let my hamster, Snowball, live.
Well, Snowball didn’t make it. But I told God I’d be a missionary anyway. I’d keep my end of the bargain, even if He didn’t keep His. And the simple fact that I could make such a promise proved I was missionary material!
In my young mind, I figured God was pretty lucky to have me, and I sure hoped He realized it. With my help, we were going to be able to do some amazing things together. It was a win-win situation for both of us.
As you’ve probably figured out, I never became a missionary. Instead, I grew up, married my high school sweetheart, and moved on with the important things of life. I went to church, taught Sunday School, and sang in the choir.
I was just like the Pharisees. I looked good, I smelled good, but what did my heart say? What was my motive? What did God think of all my good deeds?
For years, I worked from a self-centered heart, performing the duties of a good little Christian. Without even realizing it, I was keeping score of my jobs, subconsciously adding them up and comparing them to others. I was giving from a heart of pride–-a heart that hoped my good deeds could win the love and acceptance of a Holy God.
Are you like that? Are you keeping score? If so, let me tell you–-the scoreboard is defective! Regardless of the numbers showing on the screen, it’s wrong. Our good deeds don’t win us any points. Without the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have no points! Zero. Nada. The score is a gazillion to nothing, and we’re on the losing side.
Praise God, the day finally came when I realized the true meaning of salvation. Twenty years after walking down that aisle to be a missionary, I finally understood grace and mercy and the gift Jesus offers through His blood on the cross. The power of His sacrifice became real, and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. No more lists, no more weighing my good deeds against my bad. I knew the truth: Salvation wasn’t based on my goodness. It was based on His grace.
But now, even as Christians who know the truth, there can still be times when pride and self-centeredness can take our eyes off what’s important and focus our sight on us and our achievements.
And it can even happen in ministry.
It’s easy to get caught up in our perceived successes and failures as writers and speakers. We count our events and our numbers and discern our value to the Lord and His work…based on our human efforts.
And even though God loves us with an unconditional love, this pride grieves Him. Over and over, His Word warns us of pride and its destructive results. We often concentrate on how we appear, when it is our hearts–our intent–that is most important to God. He wants a heart of brokenness and sorrow. A heart that acknowledges His holiness and addresses our sin. A humble and contrite heart that trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2b).
None of us have it all together; we haven’t arrived. And yet, it’s easy to find our worth in ourselves and our accomplishments, rather than in Him and His grace.
It’s a fragile, fleeting worth.
Let’s face it, we can be in demand today and rejected tomorrow. But the good news is He can use us, whether we have fans and a following or simply blogs and a bio. The only thing we’re accountable for are the words He gives us. It’s His job to determine what is done with them. How much better to focus on the calling He has placed on our lives and leave the results to Him!
So today, let’s commit together to offer our lives, our speaking, our successes, and our failures to Him and let Him determine their use.
Jesus died on the cross for one reason–so that all could be saved. Oh, how we need to be transparent, winsome witnesses for Christ, and boast not in what we do for Him, but only in what He did for us!
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
Grace and peace,