Thursday, March 26, 2015

The American Dilemma

1 Peter 5:5: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." This verse is very direct, and we as believers should take it seriously. The fact that God literally "opposes" those who are prideful should cause us to examine our own lives. Let's each consider: "Is there any pride within myself?" To a certain extent, there  probably is at least a little. We were born with a sinful and selfish nature. No one ever had to teach me to be selfish. No one ever had to train me to live for myself. This is something we inherit as humans, and even after we are born-again we are still ridding ourselves of the residue of our old life. We are prideful beings at birth, especially as Americans.  With the American dream within our grasp we are taught at a young age that we can do anything we set our minds to. We can be successful if we work hard and are determined. While this may be true, it causes a major dilemma. It places such a large focus on ourselves, that pride consumes us. It does it to the point to which we think we can do anything and everything on our own. This brings about "The American Dilemma," which is: we do not need Jesus.

This is a problem. Now obviously as believers we see the desperate and real need for Jesus in our lives. Or do we? The truth is, many church-goers today may claim that we need Jesus, but we don't really believe it deep inside. Many of us realize that it is easy to go through life without Jesus. You can study hard at school, get into a good college, get a degree, go into a well-paying career, buy a fancy car, get a big house, get married, start a family, coast through life, eventually retire, and one day die. This "American Dream" can be achieved. This version of "success" can be reached. This is done by all sorts of people, many of which give no credit to Jesus, but all to themselves and their hard work.

Pride is more than just an arrogance or over-confidence. It's a mindset that it's all about me. It's living completely selfishly. Many times people who struggle with a low self-esteem, are depressed, or deal with suicidal thoughts are prideful. While humility is often equated with a low self-esteem, and pride at the opposite end of the spectrum, many who deal with poor self-image deal with pride. Pride is a focus on the self. If we spend all our time focusing on ourselves we will either come to love ourselves or hate ourselves. One result will be an arrogance, and the other a low self-image. But, both can be a product of pride.

Jesus commands us to be people of humility. Not to think of ourselves, but to think of others. To put the needs of others before our own. To put the desires of others before our own. Jesus was the ultimate example of what this looks like. We read in Philippians 2:3-8:

     "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in HUMILITY value others above
     yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your
     relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used
     to his oven advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant
     being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled
     himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross!"

Jesus has set the precedent for us to follow. Jesus is the eternal God. Yet, he chose to humble himself and become a man. Jesus took everything he was, and everything he had, and put it aside. He did this for us. Those who are prideful will take what they have (time, money, talents, etc.) and who they are, and use it for their own gain. The humble will take what they have (time, money, talents, etc.) and who they are, and use it to glorify Jesus, to expand His Kingdom, and to touch lives.

Jesus commands us to live as He did, and to live lives of humility. Today will we accept this challenge from Jesus? Will we choose to put our needs and desires aside, so that we can reach others with the love of Jesus? Will we put aside our selfishness, so that we can build up, encourage, comfort, and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ? Will we lay our lives down for the sake of Jesus? If we are unwilling to do this, then we should not bother calling ourselves Christians.

If we are going to live lives of humility we must acknowledge and fully believe that we NEED Jesus. This is where it all starts. We must come before Jesus and declare that we are helpless without Him. For, "when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)"

Lord, I need you. I declare that today. Give me strength to live for you. May I not live for myself, which is what my flesh desires. Help me to put others before myself. Empower me to live for  you and your Kingdom, and may everything I do be for the glory of King Jesus. Amen.

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