Last week we touched on prideful distortion and how it affected people like Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Herod. But the truth is, most who are reading this don’t suffer from pride anywhere near that degree. Our problem isn’t that we’re head over heels in pursuit of an arrogant and prideful lifestyle — God is present in our lives too much for that.
No, our problem is that from time to time we develop little pockets of pride — tendencies that can get the best of us under the wrong circumstances. Someone else acts arrogantly toward us and we’re tempted to do the same toward them. Perhaps it’s success in a certain area that has swelled our head a little. Or maybe it’s simply a stubborn refusal to see something from any other point of view than our own. The point is, no one is immune to prideful flare-ups like these. As someone noted, “There are only two kinds of people: those who will admit to struggling with pride, and those who are liars.”
We need some help to maintain humility.
God understands that and has built some safeguards into life if we will just pay attention and allow ourselves to be shaped by them. One safeguard is the Lord’s Supper. On the first day of the week, disciples come together and participate in communion. In eating the bread and drinking the juice together, “we proclaim the Lord’s death” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We start each week confessing our dependency and our gratefulness for the redemption we have through Christ. It is difficult for pride to exist in an environment of dependency and gratitude.
Another safeguard is Jesus’ teaching that we are to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). He didn’t say we are to pray for tomorrow’s bread or next week’s — just today’s bread. Jesus is quite clear on the matter. This means the prayer has an expiration date of 24 hours. If we want God’s provisions for tomorrow, we have to take it up with Him then, not today. Again, it’s difficult to be proud or self-sufficient when we are asking God daily for our sustenance.
There are other safeguards, but the last I want to mention is the practice of fasting. Jesus didn’t talk about “if” His disciples would fast, but “when” they would (Matthew 6:16-17). Fasting is connected with humility throughout the Scripture (Ezra 8:21; Psalm 35:13; Isaiah 58:3, 5). The practice of sincere fasting (as opposed to what so many of the Pharisees did), is like prayer — it naturally draws us closer to God and further away from arrogance and delusions of grandeur.
In praying for our daily bread, communion and fasting, we have daily, weekly and “as needed” safeguards to help us to remain in God’s orbit and not shoot off on our own. These can help us maintain our spiritual balance and humility before God and others.
Bruce has written a book on the model pray called Praying in the Reign. It is available through 21st Century Christian.