Pride: A Pitfall in Our Walk of Faith

This past Sunday was a humbling day for me.  Not only did I hear an incredible sermon that reminded me to stay focused on the Lord and His unfailing love, but I was also given the opportunity to preach.  The message Holy Spirit conveyed to me was on pride, and I’d like to share this with you today.   I pray you are blessed by what you read, and that my written words can effectively communicate what I verbally shared.  Do not allow your pride to become a pitfall in your walk of faith…

Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

I have a confession to make. Everyday I look in the mirror, and see the face of a prideful person. Sometimes it’s a pride that’s full of love and celebration as my daughter grows and achieves each special milestone. Other times it’s toward my husband who works hard and I take joy in his accomplishments.   It could even be as simple as that extra pep in my step when I feel confidant in a particular outfit.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with relishing in these things, but we must err on the side of caution, so as not to fall victim to the negative flip side of this coin. It’s the pride I see in myself when I feel terrible after making a mistake, want everything to go my way, or when I constantly want to be “right” that can hinder my walk and growth in the Lord. It can hinder yours too, especially if it causes you to ignore God’s truth! I challenge you to examine yourselves in this area because God doesn’t want you to miss it, and neither do I.

Here are 3 indicators that you may have an issue with pride:

1. You can’t admit your faults or when you’ve made a mistake

Admitting you’re wrong takes humility (total absence of conceit/haughtiness).  Are you afraid to make a mistake because of how you think it may make you look?  Do you struggle with perfectionism?  I know I have, and it reared its ugly head while in a high school English class.

You see, I had a paper to write and I’d procrastinated.  While I was able to finish it on time, I didn’t have the chance to double-check my work.  As I turned it in I noticed that my teacher held his thumb on my report, and I could only hope this signified something good.    Unfortunately this was not the case as he pointed out the fact that someone (me) misspelled a word on their title page, and how this was a huge “no-no”.  The word was medicine, and while I don’t recall anything else about that assignment, I allowed this blunder to haunt me for the rest of the school year.  From that point on I wanted my work to be perfect, and I was even meticulous with my rough drafts! I’d use pen and Wite-Out to eliminate any mistakes because I looked up to my teacher and didn’t want my faults to be exposed once again.  

Do you ever treat the Lord like this?  You may think He wants you to have it all together all the time, when in fact He wants your maturity, not your error-free arrogance. Who are you trying to impress when the benefit of humility is clearly stated?:

1 Peter 5:5b & 6 (NKJV)
God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

The New Living Translation of this verse states that “at the right time he will lift you up in honor”.  This should far outweigh your concerns for how you’re viewed by your friends, fellow saints, or the world at large.

2. You have difficulty asking for or accepting help

Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This law is one of love!  We’re supposed to be here for one another, and there’s no shame in needing a helping hand! I jump at the opportunity to help others, and love being able to provide support in whatever way I can.  I don’t pity the people I assist or think of them any differently, yet I viewed receiving help as weakness. Talk about backwards thinking!! “HELP” is not a four-letter curse word, during my pregnancy the Lord exposed my hypocrisy.

I always thought I‘d be a workout champ and super active pregnant woman, but this wasn‘t the case at all.  I faced certain physical issues that limited my level of activity, and gained an incredible amount of weight.  A brief walk around my neighborhood  became my new success story, and I needed a lot of support from other people.  After receiving a spiritual tongue-lashing or two 😉 I realized it all came down to my perception.  It finally clicked, and I learned that giving, as well as receiving help bring the Word of God full circle.

3. You don’t heed the advice of wise counsel

Proverbs 12:15 (AMP)
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who listens to counsel is wise.

When faced with a situation I often hear the expression “Well, I guess they just have to learn for themselves.” While it’s true that part of our growth process means going through the firewe could sometimes avoid certain issues if we’d only listened to the person(s) trying to help/warn us.  Think about it.  Jesus had 12 disciples, Timothy had Paul, and we are not above the need to be held accountable:

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)
As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Stop being more concerned with people “being in your business” than being obedient to God! Feelings of embarrassment, rejection or shame pale in comparison to KNOWING you’re in His will!!! (side note: Wise counsel doesn’t come from everyone, but if you trust certain people in other situations, why do you think they’re not operating as God instructed when they come to you with advice?)

Proverbs 16:25 (AMP)
There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.

The bottom line is that pride will have you thinking it’s better to “be somebody” on earth than to be in His presence. Before you know it you’ll be lying to yourself in order to avoid the truth in your situation.  Don’t allow your own way to get the best of you, and I pray that in this area all of our spiritual eyes are opened!

What are some examples of pride negatively affecting your life?

Is God trying to tell you something today? Don’t miss the writing on the wall because of your pride.

Think Before You Speak Part 2: The Untamable Tongue

Photo Credit: Aaron Evans
tongue (noun)
1. Anatomy; the usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking.
2. the human tongue as the organ of speech
3. the faculty or power of speech

In Part 1 of the Think Before You Speak Series, I addressed The Problem With Venting It’s time to take a closer look at the small, yet critical force that is our tongue, and I’d like to begin with a story…

“Well, ya know, I mean the Bible tells us to love everybody.  So yeah, I guess I love her.”  Ouch.  Those were the words I heard when my former Pastor asked my boyfriend at the time if he loved me.  We’d been having problems, and with talk of marriage it was imperative that we ironed our issues out.  Needless to say this comment was the nail in the coffin, and I cut ties with this individual almost immediately. I should’ve felt free and confidant, knowing that I would no longer have to spend any energy on someone who wasn’t worthy of my love and devotion.  I should’ve been relieved to have this toxic person out of my life.  I should’ve been able to shrug my shoulders and forget the hurtful things that were said, with as much ease as the shoulders shrugged who said them.  Alas, the story didn’t go that way.  His statement (among other unpleasant ones) left me feeling empty, insecure, and inadequateThe harsh words could not be taken back, and the pain I experienced was not easily overcome.

Friends, did you know that our words have the potential to cause harm?  I shared this with you to clearly illustrate what can happen when we underestimate the power of this tiny member of our body.  For all intensive purposes it’s nothing more than a necessary organ for eating and speaking, but used in the wrong way unspeakable damage can be done.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Have you ever said how broke you were financially and wondered why your income never increased?  Maybe you’ve been sick and instead of claiming your healing you cling to your miserable state as that cough or sore throat sticks with you for days. I’ve heard teachers or parents refer to a struggling child as slow or stupid (breaks my heart!) ,yet they act surprised when they bring home a failing grade.  The reason for this cause and effect is because we’ve turned our thoughts in to action and given place to those actions by the power of our words.

Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When we speak death in our circumstances (negativity, defeat, hopelessness) that’s exactly what we’re going to receive.  On the other hand we can speak life (faith, love, and hope with a Godly perspective) and reap the benefits of using our words wisely.  This is not only true when dealing with our personal situations, but also in what we share with others. Are you bringing joy and peace, or harm and destruction into the life of someone else? I’ve been on the receiving end of both (as I’m sure we all have), and as much as the words of exhortation have lifted me up, words of devastation have also caused my spirit to come crashing down.

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

I once heard a Pastor say the fork in the tongue is like the road.  We choose which direction to travel, and with the help of Holy Spirit we can be kept on the right path.  I understand that this message is not a new one, but I’m trusting it’s one that’s being shared in due season.  Each and every day we’re given numerous opportunities to use our words for good or for evil, and as James describes below, we ought to show the tongue the respect it deserves.  Let us all take a moment and consider how we can do more to “tame” the untamable tongue!

James 3:5-12 (NLT)

5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.  But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Be blessed and stay tuned for Part 3!

Are you speaking life or death into your circumstances?

Do you encourage or discourage others when you speak to them?

Related Articles:

http://virtuouswoman73.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones-but-words-will-never-hurt-me/

http://joelstory.com/2012/08/07/james-review-part-2/

http://faith1stministries.com/2011/11/26/the-words-we-speak/

http://simplyjuliana.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/a-word-spoken-in-due-season-how-good-is-it-proverbs-1523/

Spiritual Food: God Wants to See Us Grow!

1 Peter 2: 2-3(NLT)

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

I recently introduced rice cereal into my baby’s diet.  My initial goal was to follow the recommended guideline of nursing exclusively for the first 6 months (she’s only a couple of weeks shy), but Alexandra was showing all the signs that she was ready for more.  It’s a relatively minor change, and one that’s gradual, but already it’s made a world of difference! She is happy and satisfied with a full belly, and as her mom I want to do all that I can to ensure she is a healthy and strong little girl. 

Photo Credit: homemadeginger.com

This very thought had me reflecting on God’s desire to see us grow.  We begin as babies in our spiritual walk, but He wants to see a steady progression of our knowledge and understanding as we mature in Him.  This progression means that we can’t remain a baby in the Lord forever, and through every phase we need more nourishment to sustain our appetite.  That nourishment is directly found in Jesus Christ and the Word of God:

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

He knows when we’re not getting enough spiritual food, and you know what, we know it too.  We feel deprived, on edge and out of tune with our Spirit Man. You can’t put a price on Godly wisdom, and we should never be at a point of thinking we’ve “arrived”.

I simply wrote this post to encourage us all to do some self-evaluating.  Are you studying the Bible on a consistent basis?  Do you feel stagnant in your walk?  What adjustments will help you get back on track?  Are you getting the nourishment you need? 

Photo Credit: foodnetwork.com

I want us all to be encouraged today, as we set our minds on Christ.  As I leave you with these words from the Apostle Paul, never underestimate the power of growth!

Colossians 1:9-10(NLT)

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Be Blessed!!

Anger Management

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are several tell-tale signs that help us identify a person who is angry. It may be expressed with a furrowed brow, clenched teeth, balled up fists, bulging veins, a tightened jaw, streams of tears, harsh words, the silent treatment, or the cold shoulder. Yesterday I had an angry day, and it was evident in my semi-permanent scowl. No one did anything to me, but I was upset with myself. We’d just returned from a terrific vacation, and I guess certain realities set in too quickly. I was tired, out of it, grumpy, and forgetful, and was basically having an off day. Not even the excitement of Alexandra’s first San Francisco Giants game could completely snap me out of my mood, and I struggled to figure out why I was so mad? A number of minor annoyances occured, but it was the realization that I’d left an important item at home that sent me spiraling over the edge. Moments before we were slated to begin our lovely family evening I completely broke down.  I called to my husband and with my body shaking and tears welling in my eyes I proceeded to tell him what a loser I was and how stupid it was of me to forget.  He assured me that everything was fine, but I preferred to beat myself up than accept his comfort.  Only seconds passed (although it felt like longer), and with several deep breaths I wiped my eyes, shrugged my shoulders and finally decided to let it all go.  I wanted to enjoy my night, but the only way to do so was to get rid of the funk and move on.  We went on to have a fantastic time, but deep down I felt like a fool.  I’d let my anger get the best of me, and a certain scripture played on repeat in my mind.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)

 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

This had me thinking.  What does it mean to be angry without sin? How does God feel about our anger?  Had my lack of self-control given the Enemy a foothold?  In order to answer these questions I had to first gain a clearer understanding.

The Greek word for angry is orgizō and it means “to provoke or to arouse to anger”.  Provoke  means to “stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone”. The Greek word for sin is hamartanō and literally means “to miss the mark”.  While addressing the church at Ephesus, Paul expressed that while anger is a natural human emotion it should never be a hinderance in our walk, causing us or someone else to stumble.  Ouch.  I’d definitely failed that test, and allowed my frustration to reign supreme.

As previously illustrated, anger comes in a variety of forms.  The cause for such revved up emotion may be mistreatment, suffering an injustice, a disagreement with your spouse, being on the receiving end of gossip or harsh words (new post on this issue coming soon), financial troubles, work drama, or simply having a bad day.  There are times that anger is justified, but we shouldn’t use those scenarios as an excuse to behave badly.  I behaved badly because I’d forgotten the Holy Spirit power that dwells in me.

His example is the epitome of how we should handle ourselves when faced with such challenges.  Our flesh wants that immediate reaction, but God wants us to stop, wait, and think before we speak. In Christ we are able to exhibit self-control, pray for our enemies, encourage ourselves as David did, and overcome evil with good.   Being in Christ means we don’t allow circumstances to affect the principles of Godly living, and remaining consistent in our faith walk is a testament to our growth in Him. Feeling anger is not a crime, but it’s imperative that we think twice before expressing it in a detrimental way. Whether you’re prone to outbursts of wrath or holding it in until it bubbles over like a volcanic eruption, anger is an emotion that must be controlled lest it leads to undesired consequences.  Look to the Lord for your answers. 

Some additional verses to contemplate:

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Psalm 103:8(NKJV)  The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Psalm 4:4-5 (NKJV) Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 14:17 (NKJV) A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV) Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Do you cope well with anger or let it consume you?  How do you exhibit self-control?

Related Article:

Dealing with Anger…God’s Way by Joyce Meyer