Little by little I am learning here in Spain (I'm studying abroad; click here for blog updates on that!) that sometimes it is much better to simply keep my mouth shut. Of course I need to practice the language. Of course not speaking is not how friendships are made. But I asked God to humble me before coming here, and He is doing just that, and as much as I am not liking it in the moment, He is faithful and I am grateful that He is. I am indeed learning a lot. And I am realizing more and more each day that it is crucial that I die daily to pride.
Pride is an awful sin (sin = anything that "misses the mark" of God's perfection, if we deem God's perfection to be the perfect center and bullseye of our target), and probably the sneakiest as my friend Carli pointed out last night. Instead of glorifying God, we glorify ourselves. When we do things, we do them to build ourselves up instead of build up God's kingdom. And the thing is, everyone is prideful to some degree. Yes, even you.
Pride isn't always just "I'm better than you", thought it certainly is. Pride is also "I'm glad I'm not you." Pride is also "At least I'm not like him" and is also "At least I don't do that." Pride is also "I don't need your help." Pride is also "I know I'm right and I'm not backing down from arguing with you." Pride is also "I refuse to x because I don't want people to think I am y." Pride is also "Why is this happening to me of all people?"
It's not hanging around people who are "beneath you." It's not listening to the advice of others because it's contrary to what you might be stubborn about. It's not admitting to being wrong. It's talking about your own experiences as a means to "one-up" someone else. It's correcting others about every mistaken detail, no matter how minute. It is measuring yourself against others. Proverbs 18:2 = "Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." How many times have I been a victim to becoming a fool now?
It's in all of this that I find myself mixed up and falling short of the humility I desire to have in my relationships with other people. It's in my daily life here in Spain that I find my eyes being opened more and more every passing moment to my depravity and my own struggles with pride, something that I only started becoming aware of last summer and that I have only recently begun to realize is more than just a surface issue. Pride is never just a surface issue with a quick fix: It is rooted in the heart. It's like a disease, one we came into from the Fall, and eliminating symptoms doesn't treat the disease itself.
Because of the Fall, mankind is naturally selfish. But thanks to the Passion, mankind is supernaturally redeemed. Jesus is the cure for the disease.
1 Corinthians 8:1b = "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."
For me, the struggle has never been recognizing that everyone, and I mean everyone, has sinned, and sins daily, including myself. It has never been, for me, realizing that we humans are all on an even playing field and that no one is better than anyone else. Rather, it's knowing that the things I say and do stem from a "need" to be acknowledged and validated by others. It's knowing that having a say in every little thing and proving people wrong puts me on the throne where Jesus belongs. It's knowing that honestly, if I am a true servant of the Most High God, I should see my reputation and abilities and opinions and priority, when it comes down to it, as below that of everyone else's. You first, not me.
That is love.
And for me, a lot of this starts with being slow to speak and quick to listen, like my friend Aurora who has been an incredible example to me in the past week. As Proverbs 17:28 says, "Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues." It doesn't mean that I stay silent all the time, but rather that I carefully consider what I am about to say and ask myself the purpose is of the words that are about to leave my mouth. Most of all, it means I spend more time in prayer and that I allow God to continue working in my heart, and that I not move in the opposite direction or act as dead weight but rather move towards the direction He would have me move in.
What is it for you, dear Reader? Where do you struggle with pride? Where is it affecting your relationships? What steps can you take in these areas?