By Jennifer Slattery, Crosswalk.com
I might be the proudest person I know. I like to believe I’m right, that I know how to fix every situation and am the perfect person to do so, of course. I want others to think I’m smart, important, talented, successful. But I was called to so much more!
Whenever I give in to pride, I place myself in direct opposition to God and His purposes. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (NIV). That’s a strong statement! The word our Bibles translate as opposes, antitassó in the original Greek, means to square off,” “reject the whole arrangement,” and “is used in antiquity of organized resistance, like an army assuming a specific battle-array position to resist in "full alignment"; to disagree (oppose) intensely.]*”
Whatever my pride fights for, whatever I think I might gain in feeding it, that thing can never be worth the cost.
I cannot live for Christ and myself. I cannot build His church while chasing my agenda.
Self-love nearly destroyed my marriage. It told me my way was best, my needs and comfort most important. Oh, the damage my husband and I created, the trust we weakened, through our constant fight for self. But then God began to shift our hearts and our thoughts until they more closely aligned with His. He showed us, while pride creates ever-increasing dysfunction, mutual submission and humility lead to relational health.
This, Scripture says, is how we are to interact with one another:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
7 rather, He made Himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8, NIV).
But Christ’s motivation wasn’t lowliness for lowliness’s sake. Love, for you and I, drove Him to the cross. Nor did He fail to grasp His true worth. Not once did He think, “I am nothing, worth nothing.” Rather, His unshakable, certain identity enabled Him to so humbly die. He knew precisely who He was. His value wasn’t dependent on how others viewed Him, how prestigious He appeared, or the societal successes He achieved. Those standards were far too insufficient, too inferior, to ever encapsulate Christ. He was, and is, God’s Son, matchless in wisdom and power, the Savior to whom, one day, all knees will bow.
Similarly, God doesn’t ask us to humble ourselves to bend our backs. Instead, He knows where our gaze most naturally lies and also where it leads. We focus on ourselves, to our own demise. Our pride leads us into arguments, division, isolation, and defeat. It causes us to rely on ourselves, elevating our wisdom and strength above Christ’s, and thus to drift further and further from the only One with the power to save. And so, He bids us to die, so that in Him, we might truly live, unhindered, totally free, anchored secure in who we are and who we belong to.
In Christ, we’re chosen, redeemed, and empowered children of God, people of incomprehensible worth. How could we possibly seek alternative ways to define ourselves? By success? That fades, and rises and falls with man’s ever-changing standards. By our relationships with sinful and often fickle man? By our intelligence, which so often is challenged by the next idea or well-crafted argument? All of those things are far too insufficient, inferior, to encapsulate our worth and drive our actions.
When our identity is moored in Christ, however, our feet and our hearts remain firm, confident; we're empowered to love fully, as we are fully loved. Strengthened for humility, we begin to realize it is pride that is true weakness and our greatest deception.
Love, Christ’s love, soaked deep into every crevice, truly does set us free, enabling us to live and love as we were intended: free of fear, free of striving, of record keeping and conniving. This doesn’t mean we allow abuse, for love never tolerates disease. Rather, we speak truth, seek health, and the authority of Christ, our humble yet victorious Savior, over all, ourselves included.
Humility may appear to bend us low, but in reality, it elevates us to our rightful place—secure, for eternity, in our Savior’s love—the One who knows us, chose us, and calls us to greatness, not by man’s deceived and subjective standards, but His.
*Taken from Biblehub.com, 498. Antitassó, Copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.
And THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com
Scripture taken from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
On a different topic, I encourage you to read and work through my 30 Day Anti-Anxiety Prayer Challenge, which you can find HERE.
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Listen to her latest podcast episode, the Courage to Fight Against Fear, HERE.
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Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.