Archives for posts with tag: Pride

This poem is dedicated to all my brown, black and colored girls who have ever been made to feel less than special….

Dear Black Girl around the world,

In shades of Mahogany, Ember or Cocoa swirls,

With loosely wound or tight-coiled curls

African gems— priceless pearls,

Yet at you insults nations hurl.

 

Where should I begin?

Perhaps with the color of her skin.

Judged from with out and not with in.

But the truth is we’re all akin.

Mortal men enslaved by sin.

 

Chastised for her broadly cradled hips.

Ridiculed for her full sized lips—

Asking why does she look like this.

All the while her attributes are on your Christmas list.

 

The weight of the world is on her shoulder,

Perhaps because no one’s ever told her,

That beauty is not simply in the eyes of the beholder,

But in the reflective image of the one who molded her.

Perhaps now she’ll march forth bolder—

Sober.

 

From the girth of her loins, a nation was raised,

Heritages buried in Egyptian Pharaohs’ graves.

Perhaps in Tutankhamun’s or Ramses’ cave,

Was hidden the message that a black girl craves,

That she’s far more than the product of slaves.

Her beauty ranges the spectrum of rays

Of the sun,

Just a few more moments and then I’m done.

 

For proof of her beauty just turn history’s page,

And ask why does her presence evokes such a spirit of rage.

Could it be traced back to King Solomon’s days.

Where Makeda ruled over the African trades,

And a black girl’s beauty was revered in spades—

Her stature and splendor were the subjects of praise—

Not merely or simply the product of craze.

 

Black girls are wives and mothers of men,

Sisters, and aunts, and daughters and friends,

On the pages of history is not where her legacy ends,

Nor is it lost in the hoopla of culture and custom of trends,

Her beauty is seen through a variety of lens.

Which the page of fashion seldom commends,

A trend that I hope this narrative ends.

Copyright 2016 Khadine Alston. All Rights Reserved.

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Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as you do it. Watch yourself, because you may be tempted also.”  Firstly, the verse calls for the “stronger Christians” to lead his brother/sister back into the right way.  Secondly, it cautions the “leading” individuals to refrain from becoming proud and to be careful of falling into the same trap.  The truth is, we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we falter.  Moreover, these areas may vary by season and/or circumstances.  It is important for us to understand that while God has called us to bear one another’s burdens, there is only one Savior.  We were not designed to save everyone.  In fact, if we do not continue to replenish our wells, then we run the risk of running emotionally and spiritually dry.

If you are consistently playing the role of the go-to person in your relationships, there will come a point where your well will run dry.  If you incessantly pour out and do not replenish your reserve, you will bottom out.  This could have multiple physical, mental and spiritual ramifications.  Below are a few things that I have found helpful during some of my darkest moments.

  1. Be kind to yourself
    1. Know that some days you will fly, and some days you will fall. Some people will think you are the greatest, and some will think that you are the worse.  However, neither one of these things define who you are.  Only God defines you.  He made you, and He knows who He has called you to be.  No one else has that authority, including you!
  1. Keep inventory of your “well” reserve
    1. Most credit counselors advise against credit card use. Why?  With credit card usage, there is a tendency to spend more than we have.  Debit card are just as bad.  I would venture to say that most people are not balancing their account ledger after each swipe of their card.  It’s no wonder the banking industry makes so much money on overdraft fees.  The same is true of our emotional bank account.  If we are not keeping an accurate account of our balance, there will be a tendency to over extend and/or over commit.  If we don’t keep accurate accounting, we will spend more than we have to give.  This brings me to Item #3.
  1. Learn to say “No!”
    1. Saying “no” is way more than simply refusing a request. Sometimes saying “no” could mean declining to answer an email, a text or a missed called.  For some, this is the biggest step towards establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
  1. Keep inventory of those who are making deposits and withdrawal into and away from your wells
    1. Relationships are seldom equal. However, our relationships must be mutually beneficial.  In other words, we will have relationships where one person brings more to the table than the other.  The important thing for us to remember is that we should maintain a healthy balance of the different types of relationships in our lives.  Again, if we are always giving more than we are receiving, then our relationships are out of sync, which will eventually lead to a dry well.
  1. Take note during your hour of darkness.
    1. Who are the ones calling solely to check on you—not to gossip, not to vent, but simply to check on your well being?  Oftentimes, when you tend to be the strong one in your relationships, people erroneously think that you don’t have problems or that your problems are secondary to theirs.  Please understand that is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.  The people in your life must be able to acknowledge that you too are human, and as such, you too have your cross to bear.
  1. Know that you cannot be everything to anyone person.
    1. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said to me that in relationships, we meet our needs by drawing from the many wells in our lives. Whenever, we start to draw predominantly from one well, we put that other person in an unfair position, which is too much pressure to place on any one person.

Now, after having said all that, I will say this:  When we are weak, God will make us strong.  There are times when God will push us beyond what we thought we could do or where we thought we could go.  However, the problem in many of our lives is that we fail to ask Him for His counsel, and we busy ourselves with things, people and tasks that He never commissioned us to take on.  Sometimes, God is doing a work in our lives and He is doing work in others’ lives as well.  My final parting note is that we should seek God in all that we do, and He will give us the guidance that we so desire.

I have a question for all you Sunday School buffs.  What was the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden?  Now that the Jeopardy music has stopped playing, what is your final answer.   Ding! Ding! Ding!  If you said, “Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” you won the grand prize.

This afternoon, I was in the middle of writing and entirely different blog when God struck me with the following profound revelation.

  1. Our quest for knowledge is great, as long as it doesn’t come at the price of faith.
    1. The story of Adam and Eve is so complex, and it has so many spiritual implications and interpretations, but here is what God laid on my heart today. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam dominion over the land.  The entire land was his to explore.  However, Adam was not satisfied in gradually exploring the kingdom.  He wanted instant gratification—instant knowledge.  Learning the lay of the land would take too long.  Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would give him an instant upload of information.  Isn’t that true of you and I.  Rather than simply letting each day play out and taking life day by day, we attempt to skip to the last chapter of our lives, hoping to get a sneak preview.  How many of us have been given Gardens to explore, but continue to fall because of our multiple attempt to eat from our individual Trees of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
  1. Knowledge if left unchecked could become an adversary of faith.
    1. If we knew everything, why on Earth would we need God? There comes a point in our pursuit of knowledge where we have to curb our enthusiasm.  As most scientists know, the deeper we delve into knowledge, the more we realize just how much we do not know—just how inexplicable the universe is.   In fact, many scientists have gone mad trying to find answers for things for which there are no known explanation.  At some point, science will take us to a terminal end—an “x-factor”—an unknown.
  1. If knew everything, then we would become God’s equal. When we equate ourselves with God, we automatically become prideful.
    1. Who would have thought that just wanting to know whether God is going to move in our live could lead to pride? It can, and it does if we are not careful.  Here is why:

Lack of Faith =                                          Doubting God

Doubting God =                                         Doing life by our own will (no need for God)

Doing Life by our own will =                       Pride

Pride =                                                       Lack of Faith.

When we lack faith, what we are essentially saying is that there is no need for God—we are our own God.

The good new is, God is faithful when we are not.  He knows that our hearts are adulterous, yet He loves us nonetheless.  Ephesians 2:8 states that, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God,” (NLT).  I believe that God gives us revelation, not to condemn us, but to allow us to live a life full of His grace.  If nothing else, our revelations remind us that there is no way that we could ever live up to any standard of perfection.  We are only made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I hope this this post blessed you.  Be blessed until we meet again.

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ve probably realized that I am a huge music fan. I love everything for classical music to soft rock. There are only a few genres of music to which my palate has not developed. Many of my thought are often accompanied by the soundtrack of songs in my head. Even the title of today’s blog made me think of the 1987 hit, Jealous Fellas, by Dimples Tee.

Earlier this morning, I came across an Instagram post stating that Christian rapper, Lecrae, was recently on Jimmy Fallon and that he was discussing the success of his new album, “Anomaly.” I was excited. Not only do I love Lecrae’s music, I am always proud to see Christians using their talent and their platform to advance the Kingdom of God. I hadn’t yet heard the album, so I decided to listen to the single, “Nuthin,” online. In a nutshell, the song highlighted what Lecrae believes to be a prevalent trend in the hip-hop culture—the inclination to romanticizes and glamorizes materialism and frivolity. I thought it was rather profound. As I was about to scroll to the next song, I caught a glimpse of one of the comments. It accused him of using illuminati and satanic symbols in the video. It’s also accused him of being a false Christians.

STOP IT!

John 8: 7 says, “…let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” I have no idea whether or not such symbols were implemented.  I don’t even know enough about illuminati, or the likes thereof, to render an opinion on the topic.  Moreover, that topic is beyond the scope of this discussion.

For some people, what I am about to say might come as a revelation. Here goes! We are ALL sinners!!!! Yes, every single one of us. It is not up to any of us to judge the depth of another person’s relationship with God. Remember Job. Both his family and his friends thought that his adversity was a result of his sins against God. They could not have been further from the truth. In fact, God favored Job, and after he stood the test of adversity, God rewarded him twofold. Here is my point. None of us knows what conversation(s) other people have with God. Maybe God has instructed someone to do something in a manner that is unconventional. To the naked eye it might seem preposterous. However, it might be their directive from the Lord. And even it if wasn’t, some things are just none of our business. Just as God allowed us to come into relationship with Him on our own terms. Sometimes, we have to allow others to come into relationship with God on their terms.  That is not to say that we cannot gently, and with love, correct our brothers and sisters.  When relating to each other, we have to constantly ensure that the pools of our memory are not shallow. It’s easy to forget where God has delivered us from, but, we have to. That’s what keeps us humble.

I have to say this. When you and I berate other people’s blessing and the use thereof, it comes across as jealousy. All too often, I have observed that the very same people who are critical of others have no problems enjoying the same blessings when it is bestowed upon them. As Christians, we must remember that the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and every good and perfect thing is from God (James 1:17). The same God that blesses you is the same God that blesses the next person (unrighteous or righteous). My pastor once said this: “For most people, excess is usual one score above what they can afford.” If I can afford a Mercedes, then excess is having a Ferrari. That cannot be so. God blesses each of us in accordance to what He knows that we can handle. Unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to handle fame and fortune.  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities,” (Luke 16:10).

One of the hardest things for us to do is to look in the mirror and “truly” assess the person staring back at us. Yet, in order for us to grow, it is something that we must do daily. If we are constantly finding fault with other people, we must ask ourselves: “What is wrong with me?”

“Most people hate in others what it is that they hate about themselves,” (Unknown). Know that if you are constantly finding fault with others, there is something wrong with your thinking. It is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. In order for you to love others, you have to first love yourself—truly love yourself—in private. You are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10). God loves you very much, but He also loves your brothers and sisters as well. Just as you want God to be tender and patient with you. Allow the same extension of grace to your fellow man. If you and I are to advance the Kingdom of God, there cannot be this constant squawking about who has done it right or who has done it best. We are all on a journey. Most of us are trying to do the best we can. All of us, at some point, WILL get it wrong. Give people a chance to err. Also give them a chance to recover. Sometimes, the best thing we can do as Christians is to extend grace.

N.B. I feel compelled to say this. For those people who have allowed the misdoings of Christians to be their excuse for not establishing a relationship with God, I caution you. Christians are imperfect people made alive by the extension of grace. Most Christians follow the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Many of us attempt to get it right. None of us do. Only one person has every gotten it right all the time, and His name is Jesus. The reason that none of us will ever get it right all the time is because God wanted to make sure that none of us could ever boast that we are perfect. We are all flawed.

Please know that your relationship with Christ cannot hang on the hinges of imperfect people. The cost is too high. I encourage you to learn about God for yourself. If you are going to accept or reject him do so on your own accord, not someone else’s. In the body of Christ, fellowship is important, but it cannot usurp your personal relationship with Christ. Think about your personal relationships. I am sure there is at least one person (e.g. mother, father, sibling, spouse, grandparents, aunt or uncle) in your family that most people just do not get along with. However, you still love them. Why? Their relationship with you is independent of how others feel about them or interact with them. Shouldn’t you afford the same opportunity to God?

Integrity—It’s who you are when no one is watching.  In today’s world, it can often appear as if honor is a forgotten virtue.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “ Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people,” (The Message).

Wow! Those words are prophetic.  We ARE living in days where people are indeed lovers of themselves.  Many people are “self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more people allergic to God than to penicillin.  In fact, just the mention of God on the airways seem to send some people into anaphylactic shock.  Some of you reading this blog might even be turned off merely because the content is about God.  We are living in a culture where many have built up a disdain for God and the things of God.  Even many “believers” has succumbed to the customs of the world.  Many of us are self-absorbed, money-hungry and cynical.  When confronted with the state of affairs of the world, there are Christians who respond with “it is what it is,” “people are who they are,” and “what can we do to change it?”  We have become cynical about whether God’s good can triumph over bad.  Many of us have embraced injustice as the new normal.  I am here to tell you that such thinking is contrary to the word of God.  2 Timothy 3:14-17 says,

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work, (NLT).

Yes, in order to receive victory against all forms of evil in today’s world, we must remain faithful.  We must trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom, courage and strength we need.  We should not accept or succumb to the practices of the world.  One person CAN make a difference.  If we would realize and understand that while we might not be able to directly change the people around us, we can change ourselves.  When we begin with a change in ourselves, that very change can and will inspire others to take a stand, which could cause us to see a marked difference in the world around us.  We don’t have to just accept things the way they are.  We can make a difference!  Sometimes, we have to simply decide who we will be.  #Integrity!

Tonight, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. We discussed the topic of pride, a simple, yet powerful word.
Pride is one of those things that sneaks up on us. Because it takes on so many faces, it is often difficult to recognize.  Tonight, I don’t want to get into a long, lengthy discussion on pride, but I do want to share two points that God laid on my heart.
The first revelation was, when God said that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-10), He did not exclude the Christians. There is a tendency for us as Christians to think that the verse is applied solely in the context of salvation. Yet, we fail to apply it to our daily walk. Some of us, mistakenly believe that all we have to do is profess Christ’s Lordship. Such thinking is so far from the truth.  It is not enough to simply confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings. We also have to bow our knees. This require humility.  Part of this humility is realizing that we were made by God and for HIS purpose. It’s just that simple. While He does grant the desires of our hearts, our existence is not about making our flesh comfortable. It’s about serving Him. I think the problem with a lot of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, is that we miss one crucial fact. We BELONG to God. He OWNS us. We are His POSSESSIONS. We are HIS.  The truth is, if He wanted us to bark at the moon from now until the end of time, He would be perfectly within His right. Again, we BELONG to Him. We should know that even though His graciousness and mercy won’t allow Him to do so, He still has that right. Sometimes, our desire for self-expression and autonomy usurps that knowledge.
My second revelation is this: We should be cognizant of the fact that our insecurity and need for validation can sometimes precipitate our pride. When you and I become people pleasers, we place ourselves in positions where we constantly need to be validated by others. Here is where pride comes it. When we ask others to stroke our egos, we can sometimes get caught up in our own hype. I am not saying that we should not embrace the occasional compliment. I am simply saying that constantly seeking approval could be fertile ground for pride.
That’s it. That was my thought for the night.
Sidebar:
Two more weeks until Christmas!!! Tonight I want to say that I am most grateful for grace.

Pride
Being thankful could be difficult— sometimes VERY. The mind is hard to silence and the heart is equally difficult to humble. Being thankful requires us to be intentional. It requires faith.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 says, “5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both,” (NLT).

We have to trust that even during what we perceive as difficult seasons, God is still on the throne. We have to believe that even when the desires of our hearts seem to be light years away, God has a plan for victory. No one said that walking by faith and not by sight would be easy, but we have to remember who God is. He is the same today, tomorrow and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If He did it before, He will do it again! If He did it for one, He will do it for all! He will do it for you.

King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived cautioned:

9 Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless, (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, NLT)

King Solomon was right. Everything in life is meaningless. Can any of us remember the worries that we had 10 years ago? Sure, we might be able to remember that we had some cause for concern, but those visceral emotions have fade. Even the memories of joyous events have faded. It is impossible to relive a moment. It is for that reason that we have to be thankful. We cannot relive today. Today is a new day. It’s not tomorrow or yesterday.  When you and I are not thankful for today, we spend our day wishing it were tomorrow, and in some cases, yesterday. Doing so never allows us to live in the present. The problem is, time doesn’t stand still when we fail to engage the present. In fact, it quickly sifts away. Before we know it, days have turned to months and months have morphed into years, even decades. We have to give thanks for where we are today, for tomorrow is not promised. Not only is tomorrow not promised. It does not exist. Tomorrow is a mirage. The moment we experience tomorrow, it has already become today. So, why are we living for tomorrow? We should enjoy today! We should give thanks for today!
Dear God, we thank you for today. We thank you for every moment—happy or sad. Lord, we know enough to know that we know nothing at all. We thank you that you have the universe and our lives under control. We thank you for the rainbow that hails after the storm because we know that is your promise of things to come. God, we simply thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

EnvyA few weeks ago, we started a new series called the seven deadly sins.  Those sins are:  pride, envy, greed, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.  In our previous discussions, we mentioned that although the concept of the seven deadly sins is not Biblical per se, some scholars have said that the principle has a Biblical derivative, specifically Proverbs 6:16-19 and Galatians 5:19-21:

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17  haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18   a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19     a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community, (Proverbs 6:16-19, NIV).

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19:21, NIV).

So far, we have talked about pride and greed.  Today we will talk about envy!

Previously, we mentioned that pride was the original sin that caused man to fall.  If I were to rank the seven deadly sins in order of egregiousness, I would say that pride would be a first place contender, and envy would be a close runner up.  Of the seven deadly sins, I believe that these two are the most vile of them all.  I would even argue that pride and envy are what I would call gateway sins.  When they take root in our lives, they open the gates for other sins.  Let’s take a look at James 4:1-4 to illustrate this point.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:1-4, NIV

So, in James 4:1, the Bible says that our desires that battle inside us is what causes us to quarrel and fight.  That is pride and envy 101.  It was pride and envy that caused Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Their pride told them that they were entitled to God’s knowledge.  Their envy made them begrudge the fact that God possessed the knowledge that they thought they deserved.

Now, here is why I call pride and envy the gateway sin.  James 4:2 says, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”  Remember pride makes us feel entitled and envy makes us think we should have the product of our entitlement.  So what happens when someone has what we think we should have? We become envious and that envy could lead to rape, murder, adultery, lying,  greed, and any other vice we could think of.  Let’s look at some practical applications.  For example, a man cheat on his wife with another man’s wife.  Why?  Somehow, deep down inside, he has reasoned that he is entitled to the value that other man’s wife brings to her husband.  The man who is doing the cheating might have reasoned that he deserved to be respected, loved and honored.  Since he is envious of his perception of the other man’s wife’s values, he “steals” her from the other man.  His pride has told him that he is entitled, and his envy has precipitated his adultery, lying and stealing, and in some cases, killing.

Let’s use another example.  A woman shoplifts from a department store.  Why? Somewhere in her mind, she has determined that she is entitled to the items she has stolen.  She is also envious that the store owners/stock holders have move than she does.  Most of the time when we listen to the excuses of people who shoplift, they say things like: “They have enough stuff;” “They’ll never miss this;” or some variation of “I should have this stuff too.”  This is jealousy and pride.  That jealously and pride have caused them to resort to lying and stealing.  First, the individual in our shoplifting scenario has lied to herself in an effort to convince herself that she deserve someone’s miracle/destiny/blessings.  Second, she has lied to herself by trying to convince herself that she is not hurting anyone.  Lastly, she will have to lie to avoid getting caught.

The problem with envy and pride is not that they are inherently bad, even though they are.  The problem is that they set us up for failure each and every time.  It is impossible for us to have someone else’s blessings because that blessing was custom fitted for that individual.  You see, God knows each and every one of us inside out.  Just as no two people have the same fingerprints, no two people have the same spiritual DNA.  When God considered our blessings, He considered our gender, our race, our backgrounds, our personalities, our idiosyncrasies, our level of faith (or lack thereof), our maturity and so much more.  It is IMPOSSIBLE that any another person on the planet would align with us on ALL of those thousands, maybe even millions, of variables.  We could save ourselves a tremendous amount of heartache and pain if we understood that no matter how much we envied someone, we could never have what they have.  Their blessing weren’t made for us.  The other thing is this.  We do not know how much time, effort and prayer someone has put into their blessings.  The problem with many of us is we think that our story ends when God grants us our blessings.  Friends, in many cases, this is just the beginning.  God has an expectation that we will take care of what He has given us.  Let’s use another example.  We might look at our neighbor and say, “Wow, they have such good, accomplished children.  I wish mine were like theirs.”  The problem is we don’t know how they got to that point.  How many days did that mother fast for her children?  How many nights did that father pray for their success?  What about their ancestors?  Imagine how they could have prayed and planted seeds.  They truth is we just never know what people’s true circumstances are.

The final point I would like to bring home is this: James 4: 2-3 says we have not because we ask not.  It also says that sometimes the reason that we do not have is because we ask for the wrong reasons.  Friends, if God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (p.s. He owns the hills too), why aren’t we asking Him for everything.  No matter how small our requests, we should bring them to God.  If we do not get the answer we desire, we should not automatically think that we are asking with wrong motives.  Instead, we should ask God to check our heart and purify our desires.  If we have done a heart check with God and we still find ourselves with the same desire, then the answer is simple.  We have to wait and trust that His timing is perfect.  We have to know that though others might appear to be experiencing their Jordans, their timing is not ours.  We have to trust that God knows what we need and will come through when we need it.

God,

My prayer for today is that you settle the hearts of your people.  Grant us your peace that surpasses all understanding.  Thwart in us any temptation for pride and envy.  Allow us to know that you have custom-fitted blessing designed specifically for each and every single one of us that will be revealed at just the right time.  I pray blessings over all your people.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Pride

Pride is one of the hardest words to define.  Most of us could probably recognize pride when we see it—usually in someone else.  However, we probably couldn’t nail down a precise definition.  Words such as haughty, pompous, arrogance have been used to define pride, but even those words need further definition.  So what is pride? Some might say that pride is where one’s perception of one’s self is greater than reality.  But I am not quite sure about that definition.  That’s very subjective.  Some might reason that a person’s high opinion of themselves is not pride, but confidence.  That confidence might even be valid and warranted.  I am sure none of us, God forbid, would like to be on the operating table of a doctor who didn’t think highly of himself and his skills.  So again, I ask, what is pride?  The best definition that I have been able to come up with is this:

Pride is thinking of one’s self as comparable to God.

The inclination to liken ourselves to God is the definition of pride that God warns us against.  Such behavior is what the Bible says will cause our fall.  In fact, it’s that very same thinking that caused the Fall of man.

Adam and Eve’s sin was far graver than disobedience.  Their greater sin was pride.  Disobedience is simply a manifestation of pride.  Disobedience is our way of asserting that our views or beliefs are better (more accurate).  By eating the apple, Adam and Eve were essentially telling God that He was incorrect when He said that they would die as a result of eating the fruit.  The other act of pride that occurred in the Garden was Adam’s and Eve’s desire to be like God.  In Genesis 3:4-6, the serpent promised Eve that once she ate the fruit, she would be like God.  When she heard this, she did not want to be like God in the way that Jesus has commanded Christians, she wanted to be God.  There is a difference.  When you and I are confident and we acknowledge that we are great through the grace of God, then we become like God.  However, when you and I assert confidence independent of God, we become prideful, and God goes after the proud—after us.     Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom,” (NIV).  As soon as Adam and Eve ate the apple, they realized that they were naked and they became very ashamed.

God abhors pride so much that he refers to everyone who harbor pride in their heart as an abomination (Proverbs 16:5).  After thinking about the story of Adam and Eve, we could only image why God detests pride.  The entire Earth fell from grace because of a couple’s pride.  If two people’s pride was enough to cause mankind to fall, imagine what our pride could do to the world around us.  In fact, I don’t think we have to imagine.  All we have to do is look around.  Pride has destroyed empires.  It has devastated relationships (e.g. marriages, friendships, families or working partnerships).  Pride has ignited wars and nullified treaties.  Pride has fueled devastation and yielded loneliness.

So now that we know what pride is, how do we know whether we suffer from it?  Easy!  Pride is present in us whenever we have asserted an ability to do something that only God can do.  Galatians 6:3 says, “If anyone thinks he is important when he is nothing, he is fooling himself,” (New Life Version).  We should know that as humans, we can do nothing without Christ first strengthening us (Philippian 4:13).  We are nothing born from dirt (Genesis 2:7) and were molded like clay from the potter’s hands (Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18:2-6).  All our talent are from God and for His purpose.  Our gifts are to be shared and not to be abused, which include boasting.

Pride is stealth, and it could easily sneak up on us if we are not careful.  The Bible says that the enemy is always on the prowl and constantly looking for someone to devour (1Peter 5:8).  Know that nothing can devour us more quickly than pride.  In the Garden, the snake was looking for an opportunity to whisper in Eve’s ear.  He was able to find her Achilles’ heel.  Thankfully, there is hope.  The Word promises that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).  We should resist the urge to be God, instead we should embrace opportunities to be like God.  We should also know that those who lift themselves up will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be lifted up, (Matthew 23:12).  With that said, we should be bold and confident in all that we do, but we should also acknowledge where our gifts come from.

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18).  Pride’s stealthy ambush often goes undetected prior to plummeting face first to the ground.  Hopefully, it is in those aftermath moments that we learn the greatest lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about pride was fairly recently.  I have learned that pride is the root of fear.  Fear is one of the biggest impediment to growth, and many of us believe that if we could just conquer fear, we would be well on our way to the promise land.  However, today, I would like to make the argument that fear is the manifestation of pride.  Hear me out.

In order to make my point, I’ll use an example.  Let’s say for the sake of argument, there was an opportunity for us to start a business.  One of the main reasons that we might use for not pursuing that opportunity would be the fear of failure.  Unfortunately, that fear of failure does not exist in a vacuum.  Our fear of failure is deeply interwoven into our desire for approval.  What do I mean by this?  Sometimes, we frown upon the thought of failure because we don’t want others to know that we are weak and flawed.  If we fail, we would have to admit to ourselves and others that we are imperfect.  That, my friend, is pride.  Another reasons why we might avoid the potential of failure is that we are concerned about what others would say about our situation.  Again, if one of our main reasons for not wanting to fail is that we are weighted by the opinions of others, then we are being prideful.  Here’s why.  We have placed our desire to please others above our call to be true to ourselves.  When we are not being true to ourselves, we are being something that we are not.  Adopting a persona for the sake of approval is indeed pride—making ourselves larger than we really are.

Besides our fear of failure, what other reasons do we use to avoid pursuing an opportunity?  We might use the excuse that we are not smart (rich, talented, gifted, pretty, etc.) enough.  Again, pride could be at the root.  For every problem, there is a solution.  Sometimes we allow pride, which may manifest as fear of rejection, to prevent us from asking for help.  So what if the people we ask for help tell us no.  So what if they give us a harsh yes.  If so, we should simply dust our shoulders off and move on.  However, many of us do not want to risk being rejected, so we don’t seek help.  We remain frozen in our mediocrity.  That is pride.   

The truth is, there are so many factor that determine why we act the way we do.  However, today, I wanted us to look deeper at our behavior and not simply take our actions at face value.  Sometimes, there is a deeper reason why we act the way we do.  Sometimes it’s pride.