Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.
~ C.S. Lewis
Have you ever thought that because you’re a faithful Christian, life should be easy? That is the subtle message of the prosperity gospel, and it is a lie. Your righteousness before God is not an entitlement to a life of ease and pleasure.
In this series of Comparison Cures, we’ve been discussing “remedies” for the disease of “why-me-itis” that we all fall prey to: “Why does that person over there have it so easy when they are lazy, dishonest, etcetera?” “Why does that amazing person over there suffer in that way? They don’t deserve it!” “Why do I have to suffer so much? Haven’t I had it hard enough?”
This comparison game stems from pride and a sense of entitlement. We think that we are somehow a cut above other people. We think (consciously or unconsciously) that we deserve a good life because we are obedient to God. You may not verbalize these thoughts, but when we ask these types of questions, there is a sense that we are better or more deserving than others.
Think of the list of people mentioned in Hebrews 11:
- Moses’ Parents
- the prophets
- Daniel (implied)
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (implied)
- John the Baptist (implied)
- Stephen (martyr, implied)
Consider what you know about the people on that list, then name one that had it easy.
I came up with zero. At some point or other they all suffered loss, deprivation, or sorrow.
Think of the early Christians. Name one that didn’t deal with fear and persecution.
Think of Jesus. Where would we be if Jesus had thought himself too good to come to earth for us?
Paul brought this up in the following passage:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
~ Philippians 2.3-8, ESV
Just ponder for a moment how you would feel if you considered others as better than yourself. When something good happened, would you think: “no fair! They don’t deserve that?” No, you would think, “The Lord blessed them. I should congratulate them in their happiness. I should rejoice inwardly and outwardly.” Granted, some people make this easier than others. There are certain high-powered people that do deserve destruction, but we are told not to rejoice when our enemy falls. We are even told to pray for them! (You can read more on that here.)
Consider the mind of Christ. He is, was and always has been, God. He was in the beginning with God, creating the earth. He is worthy of glory, honor, praise, and reverence. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And yet, what did he do?
- He emptied himself.
- He took the form of the beings he helped to create.
- He positioned himself as a son in an impoverished family in a go-nowhere district.
- He became obedient to God even to the point of death on a cross—the most shameful form of execution.
He didn’t preach from a cushion in a marble palace, nor did He sleep on feather beds in 5-star hotels. The Son of the Living God slept on the ground, wore the same old linen every day and walked all over Judea (no chariots for the King of Kings). He humbled himself to suffer a death he didn’t deserve in the most shameful way possible. Was Jesus righteous? Absolutely. Did he deserve to live such a life? No. But the life He lived reflected God. He showed us through His humble lot the power of God and the impact of God-centered life.
Did he do all that so you could be rich in earthly things?
Pause for a moment and really consider that question…
No, Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly. Are many of us wealthy and comfortable? Indeed! Just because we didn’t build Trump Tower, doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with having or building wealth, but that is not the point to life or being a Christian. Abundant life is one that is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. Abundant life has all these things no matter the circumstances. Abundant life is one that centers it’s focus on Christ, heart overflowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
If we consider the richness of the blessings of Christ, will we so readily feel resentment against others for their temporary earthly fortune?
This remedy of humility is essential. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves under the might hand of God and He will exalt you in due time. The Bible is full of contrasts between pride and humility. Practice humility in your mind and show it outwardly even when you don’t feel like it.
I am so thankful that we have grace for all of our weaknesses. Let’s work on becoming humble in heart, poor in spirit and more like Jesus.