Proverbs 22:4 “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.”
Pride is a sneaky thing.
When I was confronted with the fact that I had some seriously deep-rooted habits and mindsets of pride during my first week of the lecture phase, I decided to attack it head on and get rid of it – after all, the Bible is full of references to how God will deal harshly with the proud, and I didn’t want that kind of treatment! So, I began to vigorously combat pride whenever it came up – and while that was certainly helpful at identifying the frequency of “pride attacks,” every time I’d “conquer” pride in a moment, I’d have this swelling sense of self-satisfaction in what I’d just done; and then, like a big rock dropping on my shoulders, I’d realize that my self-directed attempts at humility were only feeding MORE pride!
I felt like I was facing off against an arcade game I’d played once several years ago, where the goal was to try to keep “bopping” sharks that pop up at you, and you try to get all the sharks down and staying down – but it’s a frantic “bopping” task to stay on top of the sharks.
It was only a few days into my “Pride-Bopping” routine that I found myself realizing I wasn’t going to be successful at this “game” in my own strength. For a person who has always found security and identity in her ability to put her mind to doing something and seeing the results she desires (with enough self-control, structure, rewards, and the help of a good planner!), that was a sobering realization.
One night I was so weary of trying to police myself all day, and recognizing that every step forward on this journey of combatting pride seemed to result in two steps backward, that I desperately (cue some tears and a pile of tissue!) asked God to help me transform this area of my life.
After reaching that place of desperation and recognition of my need for supernatural help in this area, it wasn’t like everything changed at once, but I began to just consciously “tune in” to God, and I kept inviting him to show me areas of pride. I committed with him to respond to those revelations with a choice for humility. Every time He’d show me pride in myself, I’d ask him what he wanted me to do in response to it.
Amazingly, I began to learn some interesting things about God and his character and what pride does within the scope of my relationship with God and with other people. God surprised me by choosing to combat pride in my by extending generosity to me. Throughout the base, people began offering me coffee, clothes, anonymously gifting us with cash, and taking me shopping for shoes. My husband and I don’t have a lot of money and we needed some basic clothing items, and between the humble position of needing stuff we couldn’t afford and also being given those things through sacrificial generosity of others, the tough stalks of pride began to wither. Every time someone would come and offer something, I’d start to refuse their help, thinking, “I can do it myself,” or “I don’t REALLY need that!” but then I would feel God’s soft voice asking, “Dani, what is the path of humility in this case?”
What I realized about God through this is that my sin of pride was blocking me from receiving generous gifts from him and from my community around me – but unlike I would have done if I was him, He didn’t withhold those gifts until after I “fixed” my problem and was completely pride-free, he began pouring out his grace THROUGH generous gifts and in that way, it truly was “his kindness that leads [us] to repentance (Romans 2:4).” As I was faced with moment after moment of someone extending generosity to me, generosity which I have frequently refused because of my habits of pride, he showed me the path of humility faithfully in each act, and in that way I began to foster a mindset of humility.
And as that mindset of humility has grown, I’ve also developed more of a reverence for God himself – his incredible kindness toward me when I know I haven’t deserved it, and his gentle-but-firm way of coming to my aid to help me deal with this problem I seemed to have no ability to conquer on my own has fostered a greater respect for him and a desire to know him better and love him more – because he is so worthy of my humility, my respect, my awe of him and his ways, and I know I have only begun to scratch the surface of understanding him.
Humility truly brings riches (receiving God’s gifts!), honor (receiving God’s favor), and life (freedom from the shackles of pride), and I’ve discovered that first hand!