I had an episode last week that reminded me how deep the hold of pride is in my life, and how much work God has left to do in me on this issue. Sometimes little things reveal big things.
The episode happened the same day I posted about making it to three months in my personal spending fast. I was about an hour from home heading to an appointment when the hot drink I had been sipping slipped. I spilled it all over my shorts. It wasn’t a little spill. It’s as though a divine hand reached over and poured it all over my clothes. The stain (tea) looked like someone had poured paint all over me.
I immediately thought “I need to go buy a new pair of shorts. This definitely qualifies as an exception to my spending fast. I can’t wear pants that wet or that stained. ”
I actually happened to be driving past a Walmart when it happened so I pulled in.
As I pulled up to the store, I started debating with myself. It went like this:
“You could wear those shorts you know. They’re just stained.”
“No, that would be embarrassing. I would never dress like that.”
“But they are, after all, really stained. If you bought the shorts at Walmart, that doesn’t even qualify as breaking a spending fast, right? And besides, you never buy clothes at Walmart. It would just be a temporary pair.”
“So basically I would simply be interested in protecting my image right? I’m too embarrassed to be the guy with the big stain. And now I’m super elitist about Walmart.”
I walked into Walmart conflicted and increasingly convicted.
I relented. Instead of going to the men’s section I went to the rest room. Fortunately, they had one of those turbo dryers. I used my hands to scoop some serious water onto the affected pant leg. When I was done, it looked like I was into partial immersion baptism or like I had just wet my pants. Brilliant.
I spent about ten minutes at the automatic hand dryer, twisting and turning to get my pant leg dry. To make matters more interesting, the dryer was positioned slightly outside of the door, giving customers at several cash lines a front row view. Awesome.
The stain mostly disappeared and I left the story mostly dry.
But I realized how proud I am. I just didn’t want to be seen with dirty clothes. Mostly because would judge me or think less of me. I didn’t have the humility to be misunderstood, judged or seen as uncool, not even until I was home later that day.
Pride runs so deep. It’s our cardinal sin against God. Pride is what makes us think:
We don’t need God.
What other people think matters more than what God thinks.
His love for me is not enough.
His approval of me is inadequate unless I have the approval of others.
Appearances count for something.
I am what others think I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for wearing clean clothes and I’m a bit obsessed with clean cars, cut grass and uncluttered, attractive work space. Some of that is healthy. Some of it isn’t healthy at all.
But there it was, my pride, still rampant. Left unchecked, it will destroy the very fabric of who God created me (and you) to be.
How does pride drive you? What are you learning about it these days?