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January 13, 2009

Devotional Journey--Day 9

Today's devotion, "The Sin of Humility" (available by clicking here if you're just joining us) got me thinking - more than reflecting. Particularly because Heidi writes that she believes men may lean more toward the sin of pride and women more toward the sin of humility. So I'm busy here thinking backward and forward in my own life and my own experiences to see if that's true.

And I don't know. While I'm certainly not a boastful person - I don't walk around trying to convince other people how great I am because of my achievements (or at least, I HOPE I don't), I wrestle with pride - no doubt about that! When I do something well, I feel great. I start thinking it's more my doing than God's and all that bad stuff. When things are swimming along for me accomplishment-wise, I get happier in that all-puffed-up-with-my-own-greatness sort of way. So there's that.

But then, that pride-wrestle I do tends to be internal. So that's where the humility thing comes in. It's hard for me to tell friends or family or strangers about good things in my life - because I fear they won't share my pride, but instead will be annoyed at my arrogance. But because of this, it also means that some of the awesome stuff God is doing in my life gets silenced for the same, pathetic reason.

I guess I have more thinking to do on this. How about you?


This is a challenging issue, I think. I'm not sure I agreed with the hormone-based evaluations of our sin tendencies. I think each person's different. I think whether it's "pride" or "humility" it's kinda all the same. It's an over-preoccupation with my sense of me, and how I'm supposed to project that and how I'd like others to receive it. It's exhausting too.

I think we feel free to be proud of our accomplishments, and we will think of others more highly than ourselves when our first love is Jesus, and our first thought's of him. It might sound too "high" a thing to aim for, but isn't that all we're aiming for anyway? Just love Him with heart, mind, soul, and strength, and everything we are and do and say will be for his worship and glory. I need to think through it more myself, but struggling through how I should behave doesn't seem to be the answer. Being still--and knowing HE is the Lord--focuses me on loving him, loving others, and not worrying about the rest.

I've been mulling this over as I've gone about my morning routines, and I have to agree with Janine.

Whether it's pride or humility, the sin comes in the self-focus. Eve's sin of pride was a result of focusing more on what eating the fruit might do for her than remembering and believing what God had said. Moses angered God when he argued that he wasn't the right person to speak to Pharoah. He looked to his own abilities rather than relying on God.

And while this may be getting off-track, I have to comment that I found one paragraph of this devotional troubling. To suggest pride is an "OK" substitute for grace, in the song sung by the down-trodden congregation in San Francisco, seems another example of self-focus.

The guilt of my sin ought to cause my heart to fear - it is awful enough to require Jesus' death. But, hallelujah!, I don't have to remain afraid, not because of pride, but because God lavished grace on me. Undeserved, abundant love flowing from the heart of God.

I was pretty much nodding along with Heidi until the last, I don't see any biblical basis for each gender having its own "specialty sin." I think the observation is descriptive of a patriarchal culture and not prescriptive from God. I think that what appears to be innate is really a social construction.

But aside from that, I think she's right - there's good pride and bad pride; good humility and bad humility. What strikes me is how pride (the bad kind) and self-loathing so often appear together - one of Satan's horribly effective strategies.

Jesus' example in Philippians is surely an antidote, I'm so glad I read it today.

PrIde is like Satan. It has many disguises. And like Eve, we are easily decieved. The word pride has an “I” at the center, and when I place myself above the needs of another, or of the character and will of God, I sin.

This can be displayed for all to see, or it may be hidden in the heart, but it is still sin. Too much of my Christianity is self centered. I don’t think I am the only one.

"when we are afraid to be human" ouch

"when we are harder on ourselves and one another than God is" double ouch

" It’s hard for me to tell friends or family or strangers about good things in my life—because I fear they won’t share my pride, but instead will be annoyed at my arrogance. But because of this, it also means that some of the awesome stuff God is doing in my life gets silenced for the same, pathetic reason. " This rings a bell loud and clear for me. Where's the balance? I guess at some point I need to just speak about what He's doing from a sincere heart and leave Him to determine how others see it.

From Day 1:

"...when Jesus was having dinner with the Pharisee and the woman comes and anoints his feet. Jesus didn't care what she had done in the past, He could see her heart and know that she was sincere in her actions..."

While I appreciated many of the comments, the thing that sticks out to me the most is not whether men or women struggle more with pride or humility. Instead, it is something I read in the Philippians passage. . . .Jesus humbled himself first by leaving the glories of heaven and his position there to become a man (that's not really something we can do, literally--it's something we can ponder and something we can try to live out in other ways, but it's not going be our experience).

The thing that strikes me the most is another aspect of humility that is shown in Jesus' example. He was obedient. He became "obedient unto death." So, perhaps for us, our humility is admitting, acknowledging, listening, and acting on what God tells us through his Word, through our prayer life, etc. Our humility--men or women alike--is in recognizing that he knows best.

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