In the midst of a work-from-home day on Monday, with unusual quietness, few interruptions and a welcome break from routine office atmosphere, I found myself at two different points surprised with one aspect of my flesh that is still alive and kicking. The specifics of these two occasions are not really important, but I will tell you that the battle fell in the realm of my momentary giving in to pride versus my ongoing commitment to humility. Two different strangers, at two different times interacted with me in a manner that allowed for unrighteous, selfish anger to flare up in my heart. I took their bait, and ended up with a heart full of shiny hook, as my flesh reeled me in to its shoreline. Granted, nobody knew but me what the nature of my battle was, however…God reads our hearts like open books, and I was convicted again about my propensity to exalt “self” to an undeserved status. I wish I had remembered the words of Samuel to King Saul when my struggle found me yesterday:
“And Samuel said, When you were little in your own eyes, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed you king over Israel?” – 1 Samuel 15:17
God does great things when we remember how small we are. Everything in our culture works together to make you believe you need to be big; the Almighty knows it is far better for you to remain small in your own esteem. The pride of our hearts is the funhouse mirror which makes us appear larger than we actually are. Please know that the smallness which God desires for you is not some groveling, powerless state of being. We are speaking of a deflating of your ego and pride – two things which work against His design for you. The bible speaks of the believer as being powerful, reigning, without fear, able to do all things, wise, steadfast, overcoming, conquering, established, abounding and flourishing. We would all likely agree that we would welcome those kinds of characterizations of our lives. Yet the way up is said to be down. The way in is through being emptied out. The method of finding greatness is to remain the servant of all. Something feels suspicious about that, right? King Saul started out well. King Saul finished in humiliation. In between a good start and horrific ending, this man served himself according to his own ways, his own wisdom and his own power. He should have (and certainly could have) remained little in his own sight.
What is the personal battle that you continue to fight in your own power? Where is your flesh being tempted to rage, to assert itself, to demand its rights or to make others pay? What is it that you might be insisting upon these days? Self is a ravenous beast that, no matter how much or how often you feed it, is never satisfied. I secretly wanted the guillotine of justice for those who treated me rudely on Monday…but how many times have I received mercy for acting in the same manner toward another? I desired to be right – and for that to be clearly known to those two strangers who I had made to be very little in my own mind, all while I was in the process of making ME very, very big. Why was my self-defense so important within my heart? Why do we love self at the expense of the needs of others? I walked away from both those situations yesterday with my outward behavior fairly intact…
remained shut but
my heart was roaring as if
it were the king of the jungle.
Today, lets be smaller. Let’s be more stilled. Commit ahead of time that your heart is going to be about meeting other people’s needs as you trust yourself to the keeping of Another. Isn’t that the way He has intended it? Could this be a crux of discovery – a place where we find out if we are willing to remain small while others grow large? King Saul, and a host of others, would tell us to tread carefully here. The ice is thin and the water beneath is bitingly cold for big people who foolishly stomp in their pride.