Think about a trip wire. We have all seen them used in movies, cartoons, and occasionally between rough housing siblings. You know I love to look up word meanings. A trip wire is “a low-placed concealed wire used especially in warfare to trip an enemy or trespasser and usually to trigger an alarm or explosive device when moved”. Focus on a few things: concealed, especially in warfare, trip an enemy and trigger alarm.
The thing about trip wires is we are completely unaware of them until we have in fact tripped the wire. Think about the trip wires in your life. No, I do not mean the actual, physical trip wire your kid brother rigged in the hall. I mean the trip wires we encounter in our faith, in our daily lives and in our families. Each and every one of us has a common trip wire we continue to fall over and somehow we still do not see it coming.
We think we know pride. We think our willingness to serve or swiftness to admit wrong is enough to conquer pride. Let me introduce you to pride, up close and personal.
I typical avoid Wikipedia like the plaque (not a solid academic resource), but today is a special case. “Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.” (Wikipedia – Pride) If we jump to my favorite Merriam-Webster we find definitions for Pride including: inordinate self-esteem, conceit, reasonable or justifiable self-respect and a delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship.
I do not consider myself to be a prideful person. (Well, not until recently.) I help others, I try to be humble and give credit to the group not just myself. I have insecurities about value and status at different times…I can’t be prideful, can I?
I do not like to accept my limitations. I do not like asking for help. Why? Pride. I often foolishly think I can handle it…on my own. You know reminiscent of our Jonah conversation, I’ll try my way for a few days THEN, and only then, will I admit I am out of my depth and rely on others…rely on God. That is a serious reality check for me. I equate pride with loud boastful protestations and although that is a good indicator…every place I trip and fall, hindsight reveals the trip wire of pride.
This is where the enemy gets each of us. This is how and why we isolate from each other in difficult times. This is why we put on happy faces and pretend all is well when we are literally dying inside. Pride keeps bright young leaders from being humble enough to heed the advice of people with experience. It prevents those with life experience from being taught by the young. Pride builds walls, walls that cause division and offense between people. A little bit of pride can do a great deal of damage.
Cut The Wire
Pride is tricky. As we gain confidence in ministry, career or any area of our lives…pride find opportunities to infiltrate. Fighting against pride is definitely a spiritual battle. Being in the word and praying guards us against pride, but we have to go a step further.
Battling pride is sometimes going to mean being confronted or having to confront someone. I do not mean tearing a person down or being hurtful. As a Christian, it is my responsibility to help my brother or sister in Christ see the trip wire. I do not like confronting people, especially those I love, but that is what it takes sometime. Before you take that step, be in prayer. Pray that you are in the right motive and spirit. Pray God’s grace and mercy is at the heart of the conversation. Do not go in trying to condemn each other. Pray together before the meeting ever begins. In removing the trip wire or pride, we can let God take us above petty offense with one another.
Bitter to Better
To get better you just have to remove the “I” in the equation. There is a conversation that has to happen very soon and it appears that it will fall to me to initiate it. I am not looking forward to this conversation. People I love are allowing pride to stifle growth. People I love are letting the “rightness” of their cause give flame to offense and frustration. It is my responsibility to step between these parties and help them come back together. All of these parties love God and want to be used in His kingdom, but pride keeps tripping everyone up. Pride makes ears deaf and eyes blind. It prevents us from asking for help.
I do not want to be a complainer or a gossip, I want to please God. I pray that is your heart’s desire too. If you see discord in you church, family or even at work and you have the ability to promote reconciliation…please let God lead you. Don’t sit about and complain or compare notes. Collect yourself and address the issue(s) before they become deep wounds. When you confront the issues, make sure you have pure motives and that you have fervently prayed over the circumstances. Do not give room for the Devil to take ground.
At the beginning I asked you to focus on certain aspects of the trip wire: concealed, especially in warfare, trip an enemy and trigger alarm. WE often do not recognize pride for what it really is in our lives. The enemy uses it in warfare against Christians moving towards the same goals – destroying him for one. When it catches us the alarm is raised in the reaction of our fellow brother and sisters in Christ or our families. Discord abounds and offense seems to be everywhere. Pride is not the only trip wire we encounter, but it is so common and so well hidden in most of our lives. Learn to recognize the traps of the enemy before you are caught off guard. God’s grace and mercy can guide us through the battlefield, if we only ask.
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