Today I was reminded how if we are truly to be Christlike, we first and foremost have to be humble. I've been reading Andrew Murray's book on humility and in the very beginning he discusses how in order to be used by God we must be emptied of ourselves first and humble ourselves before God.
I'm someone who craves being used by God. To me, there is no greater feeling than knowing God looked through His "tool box" and decided to pick me as His favored tool for whatever project He wants to accomplish. I also consider myself pretty good at emptying myself so that God can use me. I'm willing to sacrifice possessions, time, reputation and comfort all in the name of doing work for the Kingdom. But today I realized that there was one thing I hadn't been willing to give up, and that was hurt. I was being asked to serve people who had hurt me badly and much to my dismay, I fought God tooth and nail on it.
I realized through the help of very good friends who weren't afraid to call me out on it, that I was allowing that hurt to turn into pride and that pride was keeping me from serving as Jesus served. I found myself feeling as though I were better than them. I didn't want to put them higher than myself because I wanted vengeance. I didn't want to admit that the way I had dealt with the pain they had inflicted on me was by telling myself that they were terrible, unworthy people and that they were not worth the time of this Christian who is busy doing the work of God. I wanted to punish them by withholding my love and ultimately, withholding Christ from them. It's hard for me to believe that my Father in heaven still found me "beautiful" while I was carrying all that ugliness around in my heart.
I realized today the connection between forgiveness, pride and the emptying of ourselves. I had to forgive them for all the wrong they did and are still doing and until I was able to do that, I wouldn't be able to be used by God in the most efficient way. The pride in my heart would remain and I would never be empty of myself until that pride was gone. Jesus is the ultimate example of this. He sacrificed His life in order to forgive us for all the wrong we've done. He emptied Himself completely by giving completely, regardless of who beat and tortured Him. All of our atrocities are the same in God's eyes, all can simply be boiled down to acts of disobedience. One's disobedience is no worse than another's and if we are to accept the Father's forgiveness, then we are to extend that forgiveness to others.
Once the plaque of pride is dislodged from our arteries and our heart is pumping loud and strong again, it is amazing how much compassion wells up inside. Suddenly you begin to see as God sees and your heart breaks over and over again. I praise God today for the wisdom He gives those who have pure hearts and for good Christians friends who hold each other accountable. May the work of God's Kingdom continue on, unfettered by the sin of pride!