We women are probably not sporting a swagger in the office, bragging about the latest golf game or competing for the most impressive story of a death-defying mountain-climbing excursion. As women, we’re likely to be far more subtle in those attitudes that God’s Word simply calls, “pride.” In my life, it seems like there are as many variations on personal pride as there are shoes in my closet, each of them for a different purpose, each of them worn on different occasions. Since James 4:6 says that God is opposing the proud, but gives grace to the humble, I need to take inventory of my “Spiritual Shoe Closet.”
The High-Heeled Stiletto of Self-Reliance – Because you’re an independent woman who knows how to make a statement!
That famous line, “I am woman, hear me roar!” captures the essence of personal pride. C.J. Mahaney’s Humility says, “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.” Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Nothing. My attitude of self-sufficiency and self-reliance is an offense to my God and the reality of His empowering grace in my life. Second Corinthians 3:4-5 reminds us of where competence comes from: “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” Have you been walking around in the powerfully impressive, but precariously unstable Stiletto of Self-Reliance?
The Gaudy Gladiators of Competitive Rivalry – The more outlandish the better!
Galatians 6:3-5 warns against comparing ourselves to others to fuel our self-perception: “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” For each will have to bear his own load. Miriam must have been lacing up the straps to her spiritual Gaudy Gladiators when she challenged her brother, Moses. “Has The Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?” (Num. 12:2). In a spirit of rivalry, she believed she was just as deserving of power, despite what God had set up. Philippians 2:3 commands us to “do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
The Clunky Boots of Selfish Ambition – When you just need to kick people out of your way!
This is one shoe I find myself wearing with just about anything! Before you plow over another sister in Christ with the Clunky Boots of Selfish Ambition, consider Whose attitude we should emulate: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phil. 2:4-7)
The Elevated Platforms of Self-Righteousness – Because it’s so much nicer outside when you’re above everyone else!
Instead of acknowledging that it’s God, “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light,” (Col. 1:11), the Elevated Platform of Self-Righteousness forgets that we have nothing good, righteous or pleasing to God apart from Christ. Self-righteousness tries to remove a speck from another’s eye with a plank stuck in theirs, while humility bears another’s burdens and restores in a spirit of gentleness (Matt. 7:1-5, Gal. 6:1-2)
The Casual Slip-ons of Self-Ascribed Influence – So comfortable, you’ll forget you’re even wearing them!
C.J. Mahaney defines pride as “contending for supremacy with God.” In every influence for good that you and I may have, God is the Master Conductor – we’re just His instruments. In assuming the credit for what ultimately God alone has the power to do, we forget to ask ourselves, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:17) Next time you reach for the Casual Slip-Ons of Self-Ascribed Influence, remember: “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me…” (Rom. 15:17)
The Unassuming Sandals of a Humble Perspective – They may not look like much on the outside, but they’ll never wear out!
“Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” (Humility, 22). It’s when we lose focus of ourselves and fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) that God works in us the kind of humility to which He turns His attention. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool… All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word,” (Is. 66:1-2)
Have you been wearing something out of season for a new creature in Christ? It’s time for all of us to clean out our Spiritual Shoe Closets!