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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Pinkie Pride”
Pride. While the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins didn’t originate in the Bible, this has long been considered one of them and, to me, possibly the worst of the set. Pride not only makes one boastful and arrogant, causing them to see themselves as higher than or intrinsically better than others, but the worst part is that it leads to a sense of entitlement. The idea that “because I’m better or more deserving, the rules should be bent to accommodate me, promote me, or honor me in some way”. It leads to the subconscious thought that what is going on is really all about me and what is my due for being greater.
Proverbs 16:18 said it best: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Unfortunately, pride also usually brings about a good deal of destruction and misery to those around it as well. Many instances of ethnic cleansing and genocide throughout history came as a result of overzealous national pride. Many military campaigns went south quickly as a result of pride, such as Napoleon’s catastrophic failure in his war with Russia due to believing he’d win quickly rather than be stalled for winter, or the USA dangerously underestimating the potency of guerilla tactics in the Vietnam War. The sin of the greatest sinner of all, Satan, was pride at wanting to be set higher than God himself; which led, perhaps, to all catastrophe in creation.
However, pride can be very destructive in many smaller and personal ways as well. That was illustrated in this episode with Pinkie Pie so determined to prove her reputation as the best party-planning pony that she ended up upstaging Rainbow Dash at her own birthday party, which was the very event she wanted to make successful in the first place. Similar incidents happen with people all the time, such as when a good player on a sports team ends up trying to grandstand so much that they forget about the other teammates; leading to defeat for everyone. Or someone in a leadership role in a local group or committee turning controlling because they believe only they have the know-how and expertise to handle the situation, ending up with creative stagnation, dogma, and power structures.
Pride might also lead to people refusing to ask for help when they need it when it’s a subject they feel they are the “pro” on, leading to disaster or a suboptimum outcome when something appears that they can’t handle. Pride can also lead to situations where someone may want to “justify themselves” in an argument; continuing on doing something they know is wrong or incorrect so they don’t have to admit they were wrong to someone who called them on their decisions. It can also lead to situations in which someone is so full of pride at their own knowledge, capability, or talent that they end up becoming impossible to relate to or work with–because they can never admit when they’re wrong, that someone else could be right, or that they don’t know the answer to something.
To me, the latter case is the worst when it comes to Christians. Sometimes I have the feeling when I’m listening to certain sermons or messages that Christians are obsessed with having “all the answers”, even when they don’t. There has to be a 100% guaranteed answer for not only every single one of life’s big questions for each individual, but for every question about the nature of the universe, the natural world, and society. They seem to have the sense that, since we as Christians have the Bible, we can now answer everything and know absolutely everything. Furthermore, if we try to say we don’t know the answer to everything, that’s somehow a weakness of our faith. So I see a lot of pastors taking some difficult problem or issue and hinging on one word or text from the Bible, then stretching it to cover that situation. And as a result, we end up with strange sermons such as the devil created “fake fossils” to try and confuse people into denying Creationism or that the reason soldiers in the Middle East are dying is because the United States hasn’t made homosexuality illegal.
People seem to forget a common theme in the Bible is that many of the upstanding men and women of God only knew “how the story would end”; not “how the plot was going to go”. Abraham knew he would be a father of nations, but he didn’t know how he would sire his first son when he was an old man who could die at any time and his wife had long since hit menopause, and he went on for years not knowing. Moses never knew how God would deliver the Israelites from the Egyptian captivity, from their pursuers, and from the danger of starvation and dehydration; he simply trusted that God would do it as he promised. The Israelites who went into the Babylonian Exile only knew that it would end one day; not when or how they would ever be anything other than the serfs of a more powerful empire rather than their own nation. All of the early Christian evangelists, as well as those today, profess the Day of the Lord is coming soon, but no one knows at what time. And in spite of having numerous prophecies about the coming of Christ, His appearing went all but unnoticed by the religious leaders of His day due in part to them all thinking they knew exactly how He would come, and refusing to see it when it happened differently.
In the Book of Job, Job, an especially righteous man beset by the worst calamity and disaster imaginable, didn’t know why God was allowing this to happen to him and professed it. However, Job wasn’t ultimately satisfied by a specific reason for why he had to suffer, but rather was satisfied with accepting that he couldn’t know the answer for why everything happened.
I keep in mind Isaiah 55:8. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” While I don’t think God wants us content to be ignorant and to indeed seek knowledge and wisdom, we should do so realizing we’re never going to know everything because we’re not God. Even being made perfect in Christ doesn’t make us equal to God. And we shouldn’t know everything, because if we knew everything there would be no room for faith. Rather, I think one of the take-home messages from the Book of Job was for man to be content knowing they won’t always have an answer for everything and yet be faithful to what we do know.
For people with weak consciences and personalities, it’s a scary thing to admit they’re wrong. That something is happening that they just can’t explain. They must have an explanation for everything, no matter what it is, to feel secure. However, it’s important to recognize this for what it is: pride and fear. Pride in presuming that we can be like God who knows everything, and fear that we are somehow weaker if we don’t know everything. This is especially pertinent for the Christian and Christian life.
We always need to have an answer for our faith and why we believe, and I believe we can do that. Yet there will be some questions about life at some point that won’t have easy answers. It’s at times like that, at least to me, we must resist the prideful urge to give a pat answer or lump things in under one passage of Scripture. Instead, have the courage to say: “I have faith in God, and I personally believe this might be why…but I honestly don’t know.”
To me personally, I have much more faith and can connect far better with a single Christian “taking up his or her cross” daily admitting there are some questions they’re still struggling with the answer to than a self-righteous evangelist proudly declaring a definitive, as well as simplistic, answer to everything in the universe.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, I choose to trust in you today and every day. When I am afraid or doubtful, I choose to place my faith in you and your promises. When questions arise about life and what’s happening to me personally, especially when presented by other people and those trying to challenge my faith, preserve me from giving into the temptation to give a quick, clever answer to appear wise, but instead have the courage to admit my lack of understanding, to assert my faith regardless of my understanding, and to look to you for wisdom and guidance in answering those questions if it be your Will…or being content in simply knowing all times and seasons are in your hands otherwise. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”