Lent continued: The Pride behind "Yes, but…"

It’s something I find myself saying a lot.

It used to be when I was asked if I was “up to doing” something.

“Yes, but don’t expect too much” or “Yes, but I may not be very good”

I realised it was a form of pride actually. By emphasising how inexperienced or incapable I implied I was, I would pretty much universally be complimented when it went well.

Now it wasn’t always pride. Although I enjoy writing this blog and I’m working on a book I primarily write because it’s my heart to write. I believe God’s placed writing in me – NOT scripture, don’t misunderstand me here – but a message nonetheless. Sometimes it’s only me that reads it, and that’s ok. Sometimes it strikes a chord with someone else, and that’s cool too. I don’t “Yes, but” when it comes to writing.

But I do with other stuff. We all do.

We seem to have a need to be praised for our accomplishments and skills. Sometimes we express it forcefully and arrogantly – some “celebrities” are like that. When they don’t get the top position they complain bitterly. As if their fame and talent are synonymous.

They aren’t.

Other people try to pry praise out of people through self-deprecation. They make themselves out to be less than they know themselves to be, and when they then perform at a higher standard than they have suggested they were able to, naturally others praise them.

I’ve fallen foul of both, as most people who are users of oxygen do. Puffed up and arrogant or self-deprecating makes no difference. It’s all pride.

Jesus gave us a model for behaviour. “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) This was His response when the religious leaders wanted to condemn Him for claiming equality with God – announcing His Divinity. There’s no arrogance here. No self-deprecating “Yes, but”. All He gives is a simple statement that boils down to “this is who I am, take it or leave it – but I won’t exaggerate it by making myself to be any more or less than who I am”.

So something else for us to try to surrender from Lent onwards. We all seek relationship with God in our hearts – an equality with Jesus. We do this because we were designed to do it. Made in God’s own image, Adam rejected himself as well as God, and all Adam’s descendants desperately seek to recover that which was lost.

Let’s surrender Pride. Both arrogance and false humility.

Give up making ourselves to be either more or less than we know ourselves to be. Acknowledge who God says we are, the gifting He placed in us. Don’t minimise it. Don’t exaggerate it. Accept it.

It takes a humble individual to acknowledge fully who they are.

But until we get there, here’s something to remember if you honestly think God can’t use you as you are…

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