"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6
I am sure that everyone has heard the story of the man stuck on his roof during a flood. For the record, it goes something like:
A man was trapped in his house during a flood. He began praying to God to rescue him. He had a vision in his head of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety. The water started to rise in his house. His neighbour urged him to leave and offered him a ride to safety. The man yelled back, “I am waiting for God to save me.” The neighbour drove off in his pick-up truck.Sometimes we expect God to do grandiose things (and often He does), but this expectation can blind us the every day, practical ways in which God seeks to interact with us. Here is the newsflash: God is practical! I learned this lesson once in relation to money.
The man continued to pray and hold on to his vision. As the water began rising in his house, he had to climb up to the roof. A boat came by with some people heading for safe ground. They yelled at the man to grab a rope they were ready to throw and take him to safety. He told them that he was waiting for God to save him. They shook their heads and moved on.
The man continued to pray, believing with all his heart that he would be saved by God. The flood waters continued to rise. A helicopter flew by and a voice came over a loudspeaker offering to lower a ladder and take him off the roof. The man waved the helicopter away, shouting back that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter left. The flooding water came over the roof and caught him up and swept him away. He drowned.
When he reached heaven and asked, “God, why did you not save me? I believed in you with all my heart. Why did you let me drown?” God replied, “I sent you a pick-up truck, a boat and a helicopter and you refused all of them. What else could I possibly do for you?”
I pride myself on..." Well, for years I "prided" myself on never taking money from brothers and sisters in the Lord (I never used that phrase, but that was the condition in my heart). I would try to be available for whatever a person might need (building websites, polishing resumes, conducting job searches, writing documentation, etc.), but I would never request or take a dime for the effort. I just never felt comfortable taking from the Body of Christ. Further, I always believed that if I was a blessing to the brethren, then the Lord would bless me. My God would take care of me!
I maintained this thinking when I started this blog. People would sometimes write and ask, "Where can I send you a donation?" I would respond, "Thank you, but if you really want to send a donation, please send it to my church instead." This approach I thought was appropriate, Godly, and even humble. After all, I was relying on the Lord alone to provide my needs.
Then one day, the Lord told me, "Put a donation button on the blog." I was shocked! "Lord", I replied, "I don't want to take money from these people." He responded, "That is pride." I was speechless. Imagine my dismay to consider that my humility in this area - in which I "prided" myself - was being rejected by Him.
I asked, "But Lord, how is that pride when I am relying on you?" He stated, "I will provide for you, but who are you to tell me how I will provide? Maybe donations are part of my plan of provision for you? You need to learn how to receive from others. You need to be humble enough to receive from others."
Suddenly I could see; it was as if God had opened my eyes. I was the man on the roof in the flood. I couldn't receive the ways in which God wanted to bless me because it wasn't coming in a way that I expected. I had forgotten that God works through willing vessels and His Body is His hands and feet. I claimed to rely on God's sufficiency, but I was really relying on self-sufficiency.
It was not prideful to receive blessings from others nor was it prideful not to. What matters is what is in the heart. God wants us to be a blessing to each other. It is selfish (and prideful) not to want to receive a blessing, but only to be the giver (as if you don't need others, but they somehow need you). There is joy in giving and you rob people of that joy when you refuse to let others bless you. It was God's design to place His children in families...and those families are the Body of Christ (Psalm 68:6).
We are not to be so independent that we don't need others in the Body of Christ.
We should not be so headstrong that we cannot appreciate others' gifts, running about trying to accomplish what the Lord is calling others to do.
We must not be so (hypo)critical that we quickly point out the flaws in the service of others, yet make no priority to see how we too might be of service.
We must not be so caught up in being right that it prevents us from seeing the heart of God towards a person right in front of us.
We are never so close to God that He can only speak to us directly and not through others.
We must not make ourselves the standard in measuring someone else's commitment to the Lord.
I could go on and on. However, the point is that if there is anything in or of ourselves (what we do or don't do, what or who we know, etc.) which we think makes us humble, then we have already been deceived. There is nothing in salvation of which we can boast because our deliverance is of the Lord alone (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 1:3). We cooperate with it, but it is His work completely. If there is something in which we have pride - even our religious works - then it is all flesh and not of the Lord (Isaiah 40:6; I Peter 1:24).
When we understand that true humility only comes from the nature of Christ within us and absolutely nothing of ourselves, then we will recognize God's hand all around us in the various ways He moves amongst His people.