Even though it is winter in the northern hemisphere, there is much going on in preparation for spring in many parts of the country. I remember so well how my father would spend the winter months pouring over catalogs that seemed to arrive in our mailboxes every day. Some would advertise the very best seeds. Others were filled with beautiful photographs of flowering trees and bushes or plants covered with berries.
Winter on the farm was a time for preparing for the planting of next summer’s garden and our late summer and fall harvests. I loved the pictures, but it was my dad who had the discerning eyes to read about what accompanied the pictures. Beyond the beauty, he knew he needed to learn which things grew best in our Midwestern soil and climate as well as which ones were disease resistant. His wisdom and knowledge made him aware that what was most important was what none of us would be able to see for many weeks after the new things had been planted. What happened underground would be where so much of the growth would first take place and risk of disease or pests would start as well.
Those same principles apply to my spiritual life as well. How I prepare (or let God prepare) the soil of my heart, mind, and spirit is crucial to whether whatever is planted will produce a good harvest. What and how I plant and nourish the seed will also be key, but I may not really see what is growing for some time. That can be true of good things as well as things that are not good.
If I am going to be prepared to live for the Lord in the midst of a hostile, threatening world, I need to recognize more quickly what hinders me from doing so effectively. Unfortunately, that is not as easy as it sounds because many of these things are growing under the surface of my daily life. I may not even see the hints of them that others may catch sight of. Worse yet, if they mention what they see, I can be quick to deny it since I have not seen it myself.
One of those things is pride.
In Nothing to Fear: Principles and Prayers by Barry C. Black, he points out something that is key to our potential failure to thrive in a hostile, threatening world:
“We despise the sin of pride in others, but we often can’t see it in ourselves. Pride is responsible for much of the world’s chaos because it seduces us into thinking too highly of ourselves. Pride creates contention, hardens the heart against compassion, and encourages disdain of others. Failure to avoid pride is a key reason why many fail to thrive in a threatening world.”
Pride can be one of those things that start under the surface, growing quietly in the dark so that we don’t see it. Since knowledge plays a big role in its development, we get duped again because we can be tempted to believe that we know about a topic, subject, issues, person, etc. It is likely true that we know about such things and maybe even a great deal, but we can believe we know more than we actually might. As a result we can be tempted to believe we should enlighten others with our knowledge since we are “in the know” and have assured ourselves we are right. That may be an honest desire to share truth, but it is often riddled through with evidences of pride. Since none of us is immune to pride, it can happen easily no matter who we are or our station in life.
One of the challenges with knowledge is we may not recognize we are only seeing a part rather than the whole. Pride grows a little more and becomes more evident when someone confronts us with additional information and we dismiss it because of course we know. That brings to mind Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 13:12 KJV:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
As I think about this topic it is easy to smile and think about my excitement to share with my parents all the things I was learning when I was in college. They were new to me and I was sure my parents didn’t know anything about them. Truth be told, it’s a great example of my own pride as I spouted off the knowledge I was acquiring. It also spoke loudly of my immaturity on so many levels. It would be a few years down the road that I began to recognize how much they knew and how much I still had to learn. I was also guilty of comparing myself to them, looking at what I thought I knew to what I thought and believed they knew.
Any time we compare ourselves to anyone we show how foolish we are. The standard for my life (your life) comes from the Lord, not another person.
To deal with this thing (pride) that starts growing beneath the surface of my daily life, I need to pursue humility from the source of it—Jesus!
“Humility leads us away from pride. Humility is not groveling, but it involves an honest assessment of our God-given talents. It manifests itself in a teachable spirit. Humility helps us find the road to the life that matters.” Barry C. Black