Updated: Jun 13, 2021
There are moments when I don't like myself. Have you ever been there? Maybe it was a mistake made, an inconsiderate word spoken, or yet another day when you don't feel like you accomplished enough, were a good enough dad or mom, a strong enough parent, or disciplined enough to be a true follower of Jesus.
If you're like me, you hate making mistakes. I tend have so much grace for others yet set expectations and goals for myself I could never realistically reach.
I've accomplished some.
When things don't go exactly as I envisioned them in my utopian dreams , I tend to participate in mental self-flagellation. Why didn't I do more? Why didn't I say less? Why can't I be more disciplined? Why didn't I think of that? Why did I say that? Why can't I be smarter? Why can't I be more discerning?
Then the Lord spoke into my spirit a scripture I had heard on multiple contexts in multiple sermons but never in relationship to my own quixotic self-view.
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." - Proverbs 11:2
I have a my-pothesis. Yeah, my-pothesis. It's a self focused hypothesis. I tend to look at proverbial wisdom as an external influence. In the case of the scripture above, I approach it with the singular mindset wherein my pride will cause me to be disgraced (dishonored, shamed) by other people. External.
But so much is internal. Perhaps the wisdom writer is talking about how we treat and view ourselves. When we play the composition of life in the key of pride, our opus becomes one of self-shame. Comparison, perfection, insecurity, and fear are our major chords. We can't stomach the thought of failure so we manipulate, demean, and demonstrably pout.
What is pride?
Pride is an overemphasis of self.
When I overemphasize MY ways, MY thoughts, MY goals, MY ambitions, and MY accomplishments, I open the door for disgrace. I enjoy studying words (I know you just said "nerd" under your breath. It's ok). Here is what I found when I looked up the word "disgrace".
Dis - expressing reversal
Grace - God's favor or help
So disgrace is the reversal of God's favor on our lives. When we operate in pride we dishonor Him, we bring self-inflicted shame on ourselves, and we step outside of His favor.
If we are humble... if we walk in complete surrender to His direction and decrease so He may increase... if we refuse to jockey for position, power, or prestige...
We get wisdom.
Wisdom. At first glance it seems like such an odd thing to receive for lowly living. But let's journey down the road of meaning once more.
What is wisdom?
Wisdom in the Old Testament describes the practical skills associated with living a successful life. These range from the ability to create highly skilled works to the intellectual capability required to make choices that result in favorable outcomes and avoid troubles (see Longman, Job, 55; Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom, 3.)
Let's put it all together.
Our pride (overemphasis of self) causes us to excel through selfish ambition which leads to manipulation, shame, and according to James 3:16, EVERY EVIL PRACTICE. What follows? Disgrace (the reversal of God's favor or help).
Our humility declares "I don't know it all, can't do it all, and without God's help, I will ultimately be ineffective in the Kingdom of God, yet He has called me." What does God give as a result of this humility? Grace, favor, and practical skills associated with living a successful life, including intellectual capacity and situational discernment.
How do we walk in humility? Live like Jesus.
Notice the "least of these" (Matthew 25:40)
Strive to serve, not be served (Mark 10:45)
Forgive (Matthew 6:14)
Be Thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Stop Complaining (Philippians 2:14-15)
Cease Judgement (Matthew 7:1)
Accept and Admit Your Mistakes (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Champion the success of others (Philippians 2:3)
It won't happen overnight, but as you truly surrender all that you are and all that you do to the Lord, you'll find you can work your hardest, trust Him with the results, and walk away feeling complete in your obedience. The lessons learned will add to your wisdom.
Instead of driving the motorcycle, we'll be perfectly content sitting in the sidecar, giving God the right to take us on a ride.
It may be time to begin living in humility. You'll gain wisdom, bask in His favor, and who knows, you may even start to like yourself again.