When Black & White Thinking is Ruled by Pride

This is part 7 in the Black & White Thinking Series.  Click on these links for Part 1 (Intro), Introduction (Part 2), Part 2 (Biblical Lens), Part 3 (Grace), Part 4 (Mental Illness?), Part 5 (Depression), and Part 6 (Anxiety).

pride-comes-b4-a-fall

Let’s be honest, pride is something all of us have.  I’m not talking about pride as in “taking pride in our work” kind of pride.  No, I’m talking about the self-centered, self-aggrandizing, self-focus, all about me kind of pride.  The kind of self-centeredness that all of us have inside of us, thanks to that inherited sinful nature all of us have received from Adam & Eve.

Our pride and self-centeredness manifests itself in different ways.  At times it occurs in subtle ways that nobody really notices, such as in our unspoken thoughts.  At times it can be disguised in our kindness to others, while we are doing the acts for our own benefit. Other times, it is seen and heard by others in comments, conversations, and actions.

While pride is present in everyone, all of us seem to have one or two areas that seem to be displayed more frequently than other areas.  Authors Paul Tripp & Tim Lane, in their book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, describe many areas of pride that are present in our lives.  They are self-centeredness (seeks attention & approval), self-rule (seeks to be right, in control), self-sufficiency (seeks independence), self-satisfaction (seeks pleasure), self-righteousness (seeks to be right in eyes of others), & self-taught (seeks to give opinion). Personally, as I look at this list, I see all of them in me, though self-centeredness and self-satisfaction seem to be more prevalent in my life.

As previously mentioned in other blogs, Black & White Thinkers simplify their judgments into whatever is good/bad, black/white, or right/wrong.  When pride is present, admitting wrong is tantamount to being wrong or bad.  And if you “can’t” be wrong, than you must be right and others are wrong.  When pride reigns in the Black & White Thinker, self-righteousness and self-rule are often the two highest heart struggles on the list dealing with pride.  The need to be right and to be right in other’s eyes lends itself to making justifications, excuses, blaming, etc. for personal actions in order to convince themselves and others that they are in the right (and others in the wrong).  Truth be told, all of us do this, Relational and Black & White Thinkers alike.  However, when pride reigns in the Black & White Thinker’s heart, the justifications, blaming, and excuses are regular occurrences.  Additionally, if being “right” is considered “good” and being “wrong” is considered “bad” (heart), then the tendency to look at self as better and others as worse is demonstrated in bragging, insults, and criticisms (fruit).

Similarly, I had mentioned that Black & White Thinkers are likened to the Pharisees in Scripture who obey the “law” or standards.  That is, anyone who falls short of obeying the law deserves punishment.  The Pharisees started with God’s Law, and then added thousands of other laws on top of God’s laws so that the original laws would not be violated.  When Black & White Thinkers make their own laws or standards in their own homes and then require others to follow them, they can become controlling through criticisms and conflicts, and they may look down upon others who don’t meet their standards.  This occurs in emotionally or physically abusive relationships.  Their laws or standards are high for others, and they can’t admit to being wrong, so their actions and beliefs are justified, excused, or blame is placed elsewhere.

Of course, it is important to note that abusive relationships are more likely to occur when pride REIGNS in Black & White Thinkers, not if pride is simply PRESENT.  The presence of pride in our lives means that we are fallen humanity living in a fallen world.   The reign of pride means that we are completely absorbed in ourselves and we are moving towards what psychologists would call narcissistic.  In order to keep pride from reigning in our hearts, it is essential to recognize that we are indeed wrong (sinful) and that it is OK to be wrong. That doesn’t mean that we are to pursue wrong-doing, of course, but simply to expect it as fallen human beings.  Our wrongness, per se, does not impact our value or worth as humans, but it does help us recognize the great love Christ has for us which is not based on our wrong-doing, but on his love.  This is the path to humility.  As we recognize and believe these things, and we seek Christ, he begins to change us inwardly so that pride does not reign in our hearts.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, Prov 29:23)

Uncle!

As a child, my sister and I, as well as other friends, played the game “Uncle!”  The point of the game is this:  while facing the other person and interlocking their hands in yours in a hand death grip, you move in differing positions and show off your strength and cunning while inflicting pain upon the other person until you either hear something break, or they call out the word, “Uncle!”  The purpose of the game is simple:  to win.  The strongest survive while the weakest either go to the Dr. for a sprained wrist or humble themselves by crying out for mercy.  Why the game is called “Uncle,” I don’t know….but if you do, please comment below or offer suggestions…

Recently, I heard about a book called “Radical,” by Pastor David Blatt where he challenges people to follow Jesus.  In this book, he shares how the American dream is often in conflict with Jesus’ invitation to “Follow Me.”  Though some had chosen to do so, many others left when he challenged them with hard to understand teachings.  Jesus often tried to warn people that in following him, there would be a huge cost.  For some, the cost involved leaving family and friends, for others it would involve leaving occupations, and for one man, he was asked to give all of his wealth away.  Though the cost for following Jesus is great, the reward is even greater.

Although I have just started reading this book and am only a few chapters in, I can’t help but notice the challenge that is ever-present…”Will you give up your comforts, your occupation, your family, or wealth (or whatever God calls you to give up) to follow Jesus?”  Now giving up is not something I tend to do easily.  It goes against my pride that says “I can do it.”  I never did like crying out, Uncle!! I would hold on as long as I needed to until the pain in my body would shout louder than my pride.  Holding on would only result in more pain while humbling myself and crying Uncle would result in more freedom.

Why is that we choose to hold onto things that grip us and will eventually lead to more pain, or at least, a long-distance relationship to Christ?  When we hold onto these things, we are telling Jesus that these things are worth more than he is.  These things we hold onto can be the opinions of others, an addiction, bitterness, time, money, occupation, other people or relationships, etc.  And as we hold on, we cause ourselves more grief.  Our pride and self-centeredness refuses to give in and believe that giving up will be too costly and the rewards of surrender are not worth it.  Somehow, we cannot see (or trust) that just by crying Uncle!, we will gain so much more.    When we surrender to Christ, we don’t surrender as a prisoner of war to be tortured, but as a prisoner of Christ to be loved.

So what say you:  Is he worth it?  Is he worth crying Uncle! to?  Is he worth following?

The Heating and Cooling of a Godly Marriage

Have you ever walked into a room where a few people are present and the room just feels…chilly?  You feel awkward because you know you are walking into a situation where both parties are, how shall I say, cold towards one another?   But a separate time you walk into another’s house and you know that this home is warm and welcoming.  Why is the feel so different in these places?  What is it that creates this atmosphere of warmth versus a cold chill that makes you feel, well, uncomfortable? As we continue in the marriage blog series about Building a Godly Marriage, we see the Godly marriage being built just a little at a time.  The foundation has been laid, the plumbing and electrical have been installed, and now it is time for the heating and cooling.  The house is not a home until you bring in it that which makes it comfortable…a place where you would like to stay.  If it’s too hot or too cold, you’ll want to leave the home and go somewhere else where you can be more comfortable.  I’m not saying that the goal of marriage is to be comfortable, but you will certainly want to be comfortable in your relationship towards one another and find comfort in one another. Finding comfort in one another requires humility, genuineness, openness, concern, understanding, love, respect, thoughtfulness, grace, trust, patience, kindness, loyalty, among many other things.  To write about each one would take many pages, but for the sake of space and focus, only one need be discussed at present:  the attitude of humility. I recall my father-in-law explaining once that humility is “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less often.”  Since the greatest threat to marriage is self-centeredness and leads to broken marriage, then humility must lead the way to oneness in marriage (as it is thinking of yourself less often).  In marriage, I choose whether pride or humility will guide my actions.  In communication, humility requests that I listen and understand first, while pride demands my being understood a priority.  In service, humility requests that I serve my wife and children, while pride demands that I be served and that they (wife & kids) serve me.  In getting needs met, humility requests that I consider the needs of others as well as my own, but pride demands that I get my needs met alone.  In how I spend my time, humility requests that I think of God and family first, butu pride demands that I do what I want, when I want. There is a distinct difference in where humilty and pride lead.  Pride leads to a chilly atmosphere and then destruction.  Humility leads to warmth and the desire to remain or return.  Think about the situations you may have entered and the atmosphere surrounding them.   What are the characteristics of the people creating the atmosphere (at least at that present time)?  What type of atmosphere are you creating in your marriage? The next few blogs will be a continuation of The Heating & Cooling of a Godly Marriage as we look at love & respect in a godly marriage (Eph 5). This portion was taken from the Marriage Seminar: Building a Godly Marriage.  For more information about this seminar from Foundations Christian Counseling Services, please call Fred Jacoby at 570-402-5088.

Prayer of Humility

Lord, give me strength to kneel; to turn away my pride

To help me be a man humble in Your eyes

To battle sins’ desires and surrender to Your will

and walk in faith unbending and peace, my soul, be still

 

Lord, help me not to rob You of the glory due Your name

By taking credit for things done and accepting all the fame

It’s not how great I am but how wonderful You are

For Your ever faithful mercy and Your love reaching so far

 

Lord, who am I compared to You; You are more than words can say

I am but a mere breath here and gone the next day

Though my heart and mind they wander for things of this world

I know my Spirit is only filled through Jesus and His Word.

 

So when I live each new day and do as I desire

May I consider Your ways first lest I grow weak and tire

Forgive me Lord for thinking that I am crowned a king

when I am but a servant to You, my God my King