DVO June 29, 2019

Title: Our Pride

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 – It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to [b]buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

One of the things we all have in common is the many forms in which pride can take root in our hearts and become the avenue in which we can justify some form of self-glorification that steals the glory that is really due to God. Even those that have been raised to have close walks with God and be successful in serving God must be always mindful of our human tendency to be unguarded in the area of pride. Our present text of devotion shows us that even the Apostle Paul, who was given unspeakable heavenly access to some secret things of God and who was used of God to be a major writer and spokesman of His Word to the world, had to be helped by God to keep this area under control so that he would not stumble, nor others stumble because of him. Because we may not always be honest with ourselves about this area in us, or we may not recognize its presence or potential in us, God has His ways of protecting, teaching and even humbling us so that we will remain useful and fruitful for Him. It is not simply my perception of my pride that matters, but how God sees me and the attitude of my heart before Him and what He determines is necessary to correct and protect us from our own hearts.

For the Apostle Paul and for many of us, God allows, sends or approves of things that bring a measure of pressure or pain to bring us to a level of brokenness and dependence upon Him in new or forgotten ways. A thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, was given to torment and keep him from exalting himself (v. 7). Does this cause us to ask ourselves the questions about why some things are allowed to come into our lives? Satan is a pride promoter, but God allows things because He is a pride checker. No matter how great God uses us, or reveals His knowledge to us, we are not to be exalted above others in the place of God or think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.

God is always teaching us, and that is true even in painful times of temptation and trials. He is not only producing humility in us, but He is drawing us to another level of seeking Him in our repetition of prayers that potentially leads us to a new praise and worship of Him. When God says “NO” to my prayers, He makes me look for alternative understandings of my circumstances. When He gives me unexpected and even undesired answers, it stretches my faith to believe He knows what is best because I can’t always see it or accept it right away. It is at this point of coming to the end of myself do I begin to be open for God’s special lessons about His grace that is sufficient in and above all and anything that we face in life. It is at this point that my pride must die because it cannot survive beyond my natural strength and ability. It is here at this place called “the end of myself” do I learn the difference between HIM and me; His sufficiency and my dependency; His strength versus my weaknesses; and my infirmities actually become His opportunities to reveal Himself to me and through me to others (v. 10). I learn the greater truths that only God can teach me about His grace in my life for His glory and that it is His grace that ultimately gives me a testimony of victory.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, how can I in any way flaunt myself before You in any manner of pride? On my best days, all of my righteousness is as a filthy rag without the righteousness of Christ applied to my life. Help us to see ourselves as You see us so that we can keep our hearts humble as we ought. Help us to live in the exalted position we have in Christ with the lowliness of minds as sons and daughters that have been granted the grace of eternal life. Thank You for keeping us with Your power and grace beyond our ability to keep ourselves, in Jesus name, amen.

(by Pastor Wayne Cockrell)