I was reading a Puritan prayer that was focused on the Great God of creation. But the prayer started with an impassioned plea to God to destroy the spirit of pride within man.
Destroy in me every lofty thought, Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds, Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness, Implant in me true lowliness of spirit. The Valley of Vision p8
The Bible speaks about pride in several places and about humility of spirit in even more. Proverbs 8:13 states that pride and arrogance are the way of evil. As I was thinking about this prayer and how it applied to my own life, I began to think about how we treat one another in this country. Everyone seems to only focus on half of the equation when it comes to how we treat people. What I mean is that we seem to only care how people treat us, or whether something offends us. We don’t seem to care what other people think. In fact, it seems like more and more, a person cannot have an opinion about how the world operates that doesn’t include the secular mindset. What is wrong with our world? What is wrong with our churches?
I believe that the answer lies in the focus. What do you focus on in your religious experience? Do you focus on the great God of the universe, or do you focus on yourself? In Scripture, we find several places where idolatry was a problem. And so the biblical record addresses the sin of idolatry in many places. In our culture, idolatry seems to be a minor focus at first glance. We don’t carve out idols or craft them of metal or stone. But we worship something! Everyone worships something. So what is our God in the culture of the United States? We worship at the feet of the god of self! We are materialistic, gratifying the desires of worldly stuff. We are a sexual culture, gratifying the desires of the flesh. And we are a culture the eats too much, also gratifying the desires of the flesh. And this whole business of calling for a safe space or avoiding offending someone is all about self. We think more about ourselves than we do about others. That is the exact opposite of what the Bible calls us to do!
Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
If we truly cared about others more than ourselves, there would be no murder, theft, or rape. There would be no divorce. And if we really believe the good news that Jesus is the only way of salvation, we would share it with everyone we see. Why? Because we love them and put their needs above our own. By the way, loving others does not mean that we keep our ideas to ourselves. It means we tell them the truth about sin, in a loving way, and tell others that God has a wonderful plan for their lives if they will only trust Him and follow Him. We desperately need to pray this prayer in our individual lives and in our churches. Destroy every lofty thought … and break to pieces all the pride in my life! Let us love God first, and then love others in the same way we love ourselves!