As we were in prayer at the end of one of our “Band of Brothers” meetings, I pictured myself falling off a pedestal. I knew immediately what it meant: I had put myself on a spiritual pedestal as the facilitator of our group. I was seeing myself as more spiritual than others.
Beyond this, I was taking pride in my spiritual maturity, thinking I was a fairly transparent guy. But even in my vulnerability, I was putting my best spiritual face forward, and was fearful of what the men really thought of me. I have been struggling mightily in writing this blog, because I don’t want to admit my spiritual pride. Paul tell us in Galatians, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct” (Gal. 6:2-5 NLT).
It is not easy for me to expose my “dirty laundry.” My false self, with all its ego needs, dies a slow death. I continue to struggle with appearance rather than face the realities of my own heart. It is hard to admit that at 80 years of age, I still pose and pretend. It seems the Lord is using a group of men as an opportunity to come face to face with spiritual pride. Lord, help me to be a more honest man.
Paul’s words in I Cor. 3:18-20 are convicting to me: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise is in this age, let him become a fool [discarding his worldly pretensions and acknowledging his lack of wisdom], so that he may be come [truly] wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness (absurdity, stupidity) before God: for it is written [in Scripture], [He is] the one who catches the wise and clever in their craftiness” (Amplified). I have been deceiving myself, thinking I am wise when I should be willing to be a fool.
I confess that I have been caught in the “craftiness” of thinking myself to be wise. I am learning to deconstruct this hidden tendency. I need to heed Jesus words: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). The following prayer is helping:
Lord, help me be more willing to become a fool for Christ, because I know you love me. I don’t have to prove my worth or be concerned about my reputation. Because I still struggle with the need for approval from other men, help me remember that my affirmation needs to continually come from you.
I need much grace and mercy not to get caught up in comparison. It is awful trap I want to avoid. Give me a genuine love to walk in the shoes of other men. I also need to dismiss any thought of how far I have progressed on my spiritual journey. Help me remember that the journey is not a matter of achievement, but rather of being.
Open my eyes to see false humility – which is really rooted in self-pity and self-hatred. Help me forget about appearances, and to be as genuinely honest and open about my journey with you. Guide me in remembering that your power is made perfect in my weakness (II Cor 12:9).