On Christmas Eve, the pastor shared a statement that has come back time and time again. He said something like, "If your hands are busy patting yourself on the back they can't be raised in worship to our Lord." These words made sense and I accepted his challenge - at one point in the message he encouraged us to stop thinking this would be a good message for so and so, but instead accept the message for ourselves.
In the weeks that have followed I have spent time thinking and praying about this very thing...how do I pat myself on the back? When am I tempted to do it? Naturally God has taken me to the area of pride and I'd love to share a few verses with you -
I will break down your stubborn pride. (Lev. 26:19)
A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. (Prov. 29:23)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Through this process of God doing exactly what He says He will (see Lev. verse above), I looked up the definition of pride and found this - a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
Pride isn't something that's just portrayed by our actions or through boastful words, it can be a thought in our mind. One others may not see, but one God knows is there.
As I've thought about this topic, I've simplified the definition of pride - focus on self, and during this time of searching my heart, God's added to the phrase our pastor shared.
I'd been reflecting on the year that had passed and found myself focusing on the things I didn't get done and the goals I never met. I was disappointed and convicted, but after a bit of time I was also feeling condemned. As I allowed my heart to go from embracing the much needed conviction to drowning in the condemnation I heard many familiar phrases - "You'll never change. You're not good enough. What do you have to offer?"
A day or two passed and I found myself revisiting my notes from the Christmas Eve service and silently heard myself saying, "Well, I'm not patting myself on the back." (As I type I realize that's a prideful thought right there!) Then I heard a quiet whisper from God, "But Jill, you're so busy beating yourself up, you can't lift your hands in worship either."
Honestly at the moment I felt like I'd been beat up by the hand of God, but friend, sometimes I need that and really I couldn't argue with the statement He had made. The way my hands are busy (patting myself on the back or beating myself up) is irrelevant, but the fact that they are is critical.
Friend, you and I were created for a purpose...to worship and glorify the ONE who created us. Pride all too often gets in the way as we focus on ourselves and take credit that isn't ours. But thru this process I've been reminded of a quote from Susie Larson, "Insecurity is a form of selfishness" and I believe it's also a form of pride. When I, or maybe even you, worry about what others will think and doubt what God can do we are focusing on our selves, we are being prideful.
Will you join me in using our hands for what they were created to do? Let's keep our eyes on Him and lift are hands to Him...I truly believe He will provide the encouragement (pats on the back) and discipline (beatings from the front) we need!