Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Swallow my pride. Grow an apple tree.

Sometimes my pride is so thick, a steak knife couldn’t cut it. It’s all fatty and beefy and saucy and tough. I can’t swallow it, that’s for sure.

It would be fitting and humorous and effective in this blog to share some examples of my pride with you, but… I’m too proud. So I’ll leave you thinking I’m amazing. Likeable. Fun. Godly. Faithful. Successful. Loving. Talented. Worthy of being imitated. Better than you.

Are you still reading?

If there’s even a hint of true humility in me, it’s a work of God Himself. Nothing in me naturally wants to look out for your needs before mine. Not one iota of my flesh desires to reveal how inherently, disgustingly sinful I really am. And it is not easy for me to bow to God’s will above my own. I was born thinking that my way is best, I know what’s best, and I am the best.

Oh, but there is a cure for pride like mine. And it ain’t a bigger knife.

The ultimate remedy for our sinful condition is Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. But God didn’t stop at the empty tomb. That would have been more than enough, more than we deserve (since we deserve hell); but He is so good to us that He promises to finish the work He began—conforming us to be like Him. (And that sounds so “Christianeez,” but becoming more like Him means wholeness and purpose and passion and fullness of joy and true freedom and peace and unbelievable glory and on and on....!!)

I think that one of the greatest of God’s conforming tools is much more painful than that steak knife. It’s the dreaded scalpel of…


John Bunyan put it this way in his Advice to Sufferers: “We also, before the temptation comes, think we can walk upon the sea, but when the winds blow, we feel ourselves begin to sink….And yet doth it yield no good unto us? We could not live without such turnings of the hand of God upon us. We should be overgrown with flesh, if we had not our seasonable winters. It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit, because there is no winter there.”

My Lord faithfully sends the winds and winters to keep me from thinking that I can walk on water or grow apples on my own tree. I’m not better than anyone else. I’m not impressive or worthy of imitating. I’m not talented or successful. But I am deeply, unconditionally, infinitely loved by the One whose way is best, the One who knows what is best, and the One who IS the Best.