“Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,” Help me to bow the neck and die, Beholding Him on Calvary, Who bowed His Head for me.”
The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?
Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?
A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?
A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?
Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?
Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?
Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24).
The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee; Oh, that it might be no more I, But Christ that lives in me. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
~ Poem by Roy Hession author of ‘The Calvary Road’
One of the most common things that couples say to me is, “My wife and I just can’t seem to have a normal conversation anymore with each other. Our words seem so superficial and only about the facts of the day. We just never get to those heart-to-heart times of fellowship we used to have before we got married.” Have you ever thought or said these words? If you have, then this article is for you.
Why does conversation seem to turn in this superficial direction within a marriage? Once you understand why the communication has deteriorated between you, then you will see how to change it.
Why does communication deteriorate over time?
1. Holding resentment from past unresolved conflicts. This is one of the most common and obvious reasons why communication deteriorates in a relationship. If a prior conflict is not fully resolved, the heart becomes closed and the walls will go up and communication will shut down. This is why Solomon told his son, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Prov. 18:19). If you have been fortifying your heart with bars, you have unresolved issues. If you want the superficiality to be removed then you must identify and deal with these conflicts.
2. Hardening your heart. When you refuse to resolve your conflicts, a hardened heart will always be the natural result. Why is this true? Paul equated hardness of heart with an unwillingness to repent of your sin. He warned the Romans that, “because of your“hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). If you are hard-hearted today, there will not be any heart-to-heart fellowship between you. It is an impossibility!
3. Allowing pride to control you.When pride controls your heart, you will relate to each other in one of two ways. First, you can be verbally harsh, authoritarian, and speak to your spouse with a superior attitude. Or secondly, pride can also make you indifferent to your mate’s requests to talk, and cause you to be unwilling to confess your own faults. These attitudes will only result in the walls being fortified between you. Remember, “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10). Pride is the death-nail to heart-to-heart fellowship.
4. An unwillingness to talk. When one or both of you stops being willing to talk, your hearts only grow harder, and the walls are strengthened (Acts 7:57). This refusal to talk things through is another sign of the pride and hardness of your hearts. You are, in reality, moving further backwards and not forward in your relationship.
5. Dominating the conversation. If you dominate a conversation by the number of words you use, to attempt to overpower your mate’s point of view, this will only further drive you apart. You should never think that you “will be heard” by the number of words you use (Matt. 6:7). If you say the same thing over and over again but just in different ways, and you don’t allow your spouse to respond, nothing will get accomplished. This again only reveals more pride within your heart.
6. Trying to control and force. When one or both spouses attempt to dominate the conversation, this is a controlling and forcing technique that only assures there will not be a true heart-to-heart conversation. Trying to control a person or a conversation is not love! Controlling behavior is also another form of pride.
7. Not being a good listener.Listening is a vital part of good communication. But, do you want to be heard more than you want to listen? Do you interrupt your spouse and not allow them to complete their thought before you begin your rebuttal? Solomon declared this behavior as folly. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). The word folly means stupid or to be without wisdom. This unwise practice will guarantee that there will be no heart-to-heart fellowship.
8. Lying and deceitfulness. When there is dishonesty between two people there will be no trust. Lying to one another is a rejection of your marital oneness with each other. Paul said, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). If Paul taught this truth concerning Christians in general, how much more would it hinder your marital oneness (Gen. 2:24)? Lying and deceitfulness calls into question your entire relationship together.
9. Harsh and condemning words. Harsh words are like small knife wounds or razor blade cuts that slowly drain the life out of your love relationship. David said of his enemies who constantly pursued him, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully”(Ps. 52:2). When harsh and condemning words are allowed to thrive in a relationship, they will bring destruction to every marriage. Be assured, there will be no heart-to-heart conversation within this marriage!
10. You don’t want to reveal anything that might be used against you in the next conflict. If you are afraid to be honest about what you are thinking, feeling, or what you have done, there can be no real intimacy in your conversations. This kind of fear will shut down any real heart-to-heart discussion, because there is no trust. If you are afraid to open your heart to your spouse, it reveals that there are several basic needs missing in your marriage.
11. Not spending time together. Sometimes the distance grows between a couple not because they have a major communication problem, but simply because they just don’t spend much one-on-one time together. When you don’t take the time to date each other, pray with one another, or recreate together, the closeness and friendship between you will die. Before you were married, as you dated, you spent plenty of one-on-one time together, which is why the communication was so much better. Don’t allow all of the distractions of life to keep you from the one person you are to be one flesh with.
These are just a few of the hindrances to heart-to-heart communication. If you recognize yourself in any of the above issues, you must realize that this is the reason the communication has deteriorated in your marriage. I would suggest asking God to forgive you, and then turning to your spouse and doing the same. Then take the steps in the next few paragraphs.
How to change the way you communicate, and get back to heart-to-heart fellowship.
1. You need to confront the problem. Many times, when couples struggle and they sense the distance growing between them, they beat around the bush with their mate, and don’t specifically address the problem. This is a major mistake. When this happens the problem only gets worse. If your car was running roughly or wouldn’t start, you wouldn’t just hope that the engine trouble would resolve itself. You would take the car into the mechanic to get the problem resolved. If you chose not to do this, one morning you would go out to start your car, and it wouldn’t run. So, don’t let the lack of heart-to-heart fellowship in your marriage get any worse. Resolve to talk to your spouse about it today.
How should you bring up this problem with your mate? Choose a weekend day, when you and your mate are not tired, and there are no distractions. Find a time when you can be alone, with the children playing outside, or at a friend’s house. Ask your spouse to sit down to talk, and express that you believe that you are drifting apart. Express your love and desire to change things between you. Don’t blame your spouse, but express that both of you are at fault, and that both of you need to make some changes. Go through the following steps.
2. Reconcile past issues. If you regularly fight about specific issues with your spouse, or you have past issues that have never been resolved, make a list of these conflicts and begin a discussion about how you can resolve them. Without a truly reconciled relationship with your spouse, your communication will never be heart-to-heart. Unresolved conflicts are what caused you to drift away from each other, and resolving them is the first step back. To help, I have two worksheets that would be very helpful for you to begin the process. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Articles” and then “Worksheets” and print “How to Resolve Conflicts” and “How to Solve Conflicts.” Work through these together with your spouse to begin the reconciliation process.
Jesus made it absolutely clear that resolving conflicts with anyone was one of His top priorities. He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). So, if you have resentment toward your mate, or you know your spouse is upset with you, you have the responsibility to go to them and try to reconcile the issue. Keep talking and praying until it is resolved. When you take this step, you are removing one of the greatest impediments to having a heart-to-heart relationship again.
3. Admit your communication failures. Humility concerning your faults and your communicative abilities, is absolutely essential to opening up a new and deeper fellowship with your spouse. God has explained in many places throughout the Scripture that if you want revival and awakening in your souls, you must humble yourself. God spoke through Isaiah the Prophet and said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isa. 57:15). Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with anyone who would listen to Him, and He was “gentle and lowly at heart” (Matt. 11:29). Humility is a fundamental key to this entire process.
Go back and look at the list of communication failures that I gave at the beginning of this article and consider if any of these are yours. Do you do any of these behaviors? If you do, turn from these today!
4. Be vulnerable. How does vulnerability affect your ability to communicate with your spouse? It reveals your willingness to be honest and open with your mate. Vulnerability allows you to admit your faults, ask forgiveness, and listen to your wife or husband’s thoughts, and speak heart-to-heart. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). What is Jesus encouraging in this verse? He wanted His disciple’s to be honest with themselves about their own sins before they ever tried to tell others about their faults. Honesty with yourself is an absolute necessity if you want to become vulnerable with your mate.
King David revealed his own vulnerability throughout the Psalms. What an example for all of us to follow. He could talk about his failures and sins, his fears, his personal struggles, and his hopes (Ps. 51:3; Ps. 34:4; Ps. 119:81; Ps. 42:5). But the question is, will you be vulnerable like this with your mate? If you won’t, then don’t expect your spouse to be vulnerable with you. If you want heart-to-heart communication with your mate, then vulnerability is essential!
5. Vulnerability also requires that you walk in humility. The essence of vulnerability is humility. You know your own struggles and faults; therefore, you are not quick to judge your spouse for his or her faults. You can admit your needs before your mate. You can give and receive encouragement and correction from your spouse. Note how open Paul the Apostle was with the elders of the church of Ephesus. He said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews” (Acts 20:18-19). Can you talk about your struggles with your spouse? If your husband or wife has some helpful encouragement or correction, will you listen to it and not get angry?
Humility also enables a mutual submissiveness with your mate that further enables this openness and vulnerability. Peter clearly commanded this kind of fellowship with others when he said, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is the key to this submissive attitude that can listen to the other. In addition, without this vulnerability and humility, you will forfeit the great grace God wants to bestow upon your marriage relationship.
6. Choose your words carefully. One of the most critical requirements for heart-to-heart fellowship with your spouse will be the words that you choose to use. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). The word soft in this verse means tender or gentle words. The word harsh means to speak offensive and hurtful words. So, which takes place with your spouse on a regular basis, tender and gentle words, or offensive and hurtful ones?
Only you have the ability to choose how you will speak with your mate. You are the only one who can change the words you speak. Don’t blame-shift and excuse your own responsibility by saying, “I wouldn’t talk the way I do, if he or she didn’t come off so harsh toward me.” Being honest with yourself is vital in changing this part of your communication. You have the choice as to how you will respond! God has made it clear what He wants, He said, “choose what pleases Me” (Is. 56:4). This is your responsibility!
You can say things several different ways if you choose. When your spouse fails to do what you have asked them to do, you can say, “This is the fifth time I’ve told you that this bothers me. What is your problem? Are you deaf, or are you just dumb?” Or, you can say, “Honey did you forget about this or that issue? This is really important to me.” Then explain the reason why this issue is so important to you. Which response would create a conflict, and which would help you get to a solution? The answer is obvious!
7. Become a better listener. In most marriages one person is more verbal that the other. The person who is more verbal usually dominates the conversations which hinders the less verbal person from taking. Consequently, the less verbal spouse begins to believe their mate does not value their thoughts and opinions. This causes the less verbal person to retreat and not share equally, which destroys the ability to have a heart-to-heart fellowship together. This is why James taught the church, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(James 1:19).
How can you change this imbalance? It is just a choice. The more verbal spouse must learn to use less words, and the less verbal person needs to use more words. For couples that just can’t seem to do it, I recommend using a kitchen timer. Set it for one minute, and say whatever you need to say. Then reset it for your spouse, and allow them to talk without interruption. This ensures equal time. Eventually people learn to discipline themselves to give this equal time to each other. Remember, you can’t have heart-to-heart talks when only one person is allowed to talk.
8. It takes two to tango. The tango is the most intimate dance that two people can enjoy. Each must move and step in a precise manner, or the couple will step all over each other, or fall to the floor. My point is that communication is like the tango. Both partners must participate and work together to enable heart-to-heart fellowship. It can’t be done alone. You need a willing heart, and your spouse also must be willing. You both must deal with your own personal faults, and you both must choose to be vulnerable with one another. Each of you must listen and give equal time to the other to respond.
Therefore, I encourage you to respond to the Lord in your personal life, and allow Him to work within you to change the way you communicate. Focus on getting to the place of heart-to-heart communication with each other. It will take work, but the work will bring the rewarding relationship you desire.
All of the steps I have just outlined in this article must be obeyed by both partners. It can’t be done by just one spouse alone. One of you must choose to start to speak heart-to-heart with the other. Trust that God will soften your spouse to respond. Remember, not even God Himself with all His power and authority, can by Himself fix the relationship with mankind. Ultimately, reconciliation requires men to respond to Him in repentance. This is why Jesus commanded those who heard Him to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, I am asking you to repent of your side of the problem as it relates to communication, and humble yourself before God and your spouse. You take the step to start the conversation. You won’t regret it!
It’s hard to put on humility if you don’t think you have pride. The characteristics of pride can be understood as follows:
1. Being blind, unable to see pride. Pride envelops itself in smoke unless you’re in the mirror of God’s word and God, by His grace, allows you to see your sin and its magnitude. Many people see the logs in other people’s eyes and maybe the speck in their own. They may even say “I’m proud” and then move right on as if it were insignificant.
2. Being unthankful. Proud people think they deserve only what is good. The result is, why should they be thankful? As a matter of fact, they may even complain because they think they deserve better. They tend to be critical and complainers. One of our professors at the seminary sized up a student, saying, “This person is a walking minus sign!” They may grumble, be discontent, see the downside of everything, be quarrelsome and divisive. No one is safe around this type of person.
3. Outbursts of anger, withdrawing, pouting, being moody or impatient because one’s rights or schedules aren’t being met.
4. Perfectionistic-type persons who want to be the best at everything are also proud. Why? Because it’s self-serving. They brag and talk about themselves all the time. It reminds me of a cartoon of Garfield talking to Odie, the dog. He says, “Odie, I’m tired of talking about me. You talk about me for awhile.” Some have an inflated view of their own importance, abilities, and talents.
5. Seeking independence. Some proud people find it extremely difficult to work under someone else, to submit. They have to be their own boss. They say, “I don’t need anyone. I don’t need accountability for my faith and doctrine.” Others cut themselves down with comments, but inwardly they crave self-sufficiency.
6. Monopolizing conversations, being rigid, stubborn, headstrong, and intimidating, saying, “It’s my way or the highway.”
7. Being consumed with what others might think of them, being man-pleasers or man-fearers.
8. Being devastated by criticism.
9. Not listening very well. They compose what they are going to say while you’re speaking.
10. Being unteachable. They know it all. They’re superior. They can’t learn anything.
11. Being sarcastic, hurtful, jesting, saying, “That’s just the way I am. That’s my personality. I’m A-type. I’m dominant, choleric, lion, beaver, mule,” whatever else you want to call them!
12. Wanting to be praised or to be coaxed to serve. Unwillingness to initiate or commit to the right thing simply to please God. I like Jay Adams’ answer to people who leave churches and say, “That was a cold place.” He says, “Go warm it up!” Such people are just consumed with themselves, jealous, envious, not glad for others’ successes, deceitful, covering up faults, rarely seeking help, fake, and hypocritical.
13. Being defensive: “It can’t be my fault!” Then they attack one another. Revenge, trivializing their sin, rationalizing it, justifying it, judging others by their own self-made standards. Often proud people rarely admit their sin or ask for forgiveness.
14. Lacking in biblical prayer, in service to other people, and in sacrificial deeds of love. (Thomas Watson said, “We should pray without ceasing because beggars beg.”) Instead, being touchy, irritable, or ultra- sensitive.
15. Resisting authority, being disrespectful. We say he or she has a submission problem. No, they have a pride problem. It’s displaying itself that way. This person is rarely concerned about the welfare of someone else. They view and judge others in terms of how others support them and their concerns, their ministry. They voice their preferences at times, even when not asked. When they do voice them, it’s without compassion or consideration for others. They convey an unapproachableness. Even when someone points out a flaw, there’s always a quick retort, minimizing it and moving on.
“But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” -Genesis 25:33-34
What is a birthright? According to WordNet online dictionary, it is “a right or privilege that you are entitled to at birth”, or “an inheritance coming by right of birth”. Did you know God gives each of us a birthright as His children? Did you know that we may not be aware of our birthright from Him, or, if we understand our birthright, we can also lose it? This is described in the story of Jacob and Esau.
Jacob stole Esau’s birthright by offering him food when he was extremely hungry. Although Jacob acted as a manipulator and deceiver, his brother didn’t seem all that concerned with his inheritance in the present. He wanted his hunger for food met, now! He couldn’t see past his immediate desires, although legitimate. He tried to get them met in the wrong way. And he sold the only thing of true value in his life away for a bowl of stew. How angry at himself he must’ve been once his hunger had been satisfied!
When we are born into the kingdom of God by accepting Christ into our lives, we are born not only into new life through salvation, but we also carry a new birthright. Like free education is a right to anyone born in America, when we are born again, a new creation in Christ, we have rights that people who do not know Him do not have. Peace, joy, hope, and spiritual gifts are in addition to the gift of eternal salvation are all part of this birthright. Our very purpose for existence is also our birthright. God gave that to us before we were born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) However, it is easy to “miss” our birthright by deception, or to exchange it for a life of self-gratification.
It says in Genesis 25:34 Esau “despised” his birthright. How many of us “despise” doing the things that Christ would have us do? Whether it’s fear, or pride, or past hurts and rejections, or not feeling good enough – none of those reasons are good enough for us to miss the inheritance that God has in store for us.
Don’t let deception keep you from your birthright of who you are in Christ – from all the things that God has planned for you to bless you, give you a purpose, and to use you mightily for His kingdom.
** By Charis Brown at Today God is First / Photo by Shantanu Pal at Pexels
“Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”
1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB
At the judgment seat of Christ, all of God’s ways will be seen to be perfectly just and righteous. That’s why we’re commanded to wait to judge — because there will come a day when even the secret motives of men’s hearts will be revealed, and then and only then can we judge righteously. Jesus says the same thing in Luke 12:2-3:
“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” The picture I have of the judgment seat is one where everyone who has ever lived will see my every thought, word, deed, and motive, and will be able to see that God’s judgment of my life is perfectly righteous. It’s as if a documentary of all my life — inward and outward — will be on a giant movie screen for everyone who’s ever lived to see. And all people, finally having “perfect information” so to speak, will come to the same exact conclusion that God does in His judgment of my life. For some, that may be an absolutely terrifying idea. But for Christians, we can take comfort knowing that God has “blotted out” those sinful spots on the tape (Psalm 51:9), because He chooses not to remember (Isaiah 43:25) any of the sins that we confess in the name of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7,9). Praise God for that!!
But Christian, let me ask you a question: how will you feel if, when it’s “showtime” for your documentary in heaven, your entire movie is just a series of blanked-out scenes and bleeped-out speech? No sound, no video, all blank? Definitely no sin there to speak of, just hours and hours of silence. Non-footage, so to speak. It’s as if your life almost never took place. Will that be cause for rejoicing?
Or does that sound terrible to you? I must say that I will be utterly heartbroken if my documentary is all bleeped-out footage, with nothing worth screening in the final day! I want more than that! I want a life that brings God glory and honor and praise (Philippians 1:10-11), a life He can put on display to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places as evidence of His trustworthiness and wisdom and power (Ephesians 3:10, Job 1:8), a life that is not merely stripped of all evidence of bad, but that fulfills all the good that God had in His heart when He made me (Ephesians 2:10)! (I encourage you to read those verses and see whether that is God’s hope for your life too.)
The Holy Spirit says that “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want the subtitle of my movie to be: “saved, yet so as through fire.” To be sure, I’m not interested in reward, except that it will be something I get to throw at my precious Savior’s feet (Revelation 4:10). What I’m interested in is a life that brings God praise and glory in the final day, and the way to do that is to seek for there to be something left on the tape after the fire blots out all of the footage that dishonors the Lord.
Lord, according to Your Holy Spirit’s work in me, I want an un-bleeped tape! I want my life to count for You! I want to be a part of the manifestation that shames the devil and brings glory to Jesus Christ in the final day, that extols His trustworthiness and power.
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-12 NASB
Our good deeds may never be evident to worldly-minded people during our life on earth. But our hope is that, in the final day, when all things are known perfectly, and they watch the movies of our lives, they would have cause to glorify God. Not because there’s a blank tape (unlike their filthy tape), but there’s a tape filled with evidence of God’s glory.
All of us come across others’ who say things so well that there is simply nothing left to add. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth created just such a piece in the form of a bookmark which you can download here, from her series Brokenness: The Heart God Revives
Proud people focus on the failures of others. Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.
Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope. Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.
Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others. Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.
Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit. Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.
Proud people have to prove that they are right. Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit. Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.
Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation. Broken people are self-denying.
Proud people desire to be served. Broken people are motivated to serve others.
Proud people desire to be a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.
Proud people desire self-advancement. Broken people desire to promote others.
Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated. Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.
Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.
Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God. Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.
Proud people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.
Proud people are self-conscious. Broken people are not concerned with self at all.
Proud people keep others at arms’ length. Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.
Proud people are quick to blame others. Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.
Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized. Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.
Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.
Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others. Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.
Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up. Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?” Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.
Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin. Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.
Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin. Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.
Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught. Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.
Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship. Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.
Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor. Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.
Proud people are blind to their true heart condition. Broken people walk in the light.
Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of. Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.
Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does. Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.
**Article by Searching4Wisdom @ Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism.com / Photo by Pixabay
The Master was searching for a vessel to use; On the shelf there were many – which one would He choose? “Take me”, cried the gold one, “I’m shiny and bright, I’m of great value and I do things just right. My beauty and luster will outshine the rest And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!”
The Master passed on with no word at all; He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall; “I’ll serve You, dear Master, I’ll pour out Your drink, and I’ll be at Your table whenever You dine, My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true, And my silver will always compliment You.”
Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass, It was wide mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass. “Here! Here!” cried the vessel, “I know I will do, Place me on Your table for all men to view.”
“Look at me”, called the goblet of crystal so clear, “My transparency shows my contents so dear, Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride, And I’m sure I’ll be happy in Your house to abide.”
The Master came next to a vessel of wood, Polished and carved, it solidly stood. “You may use me, dear Master”, the wooden bowl said, “But I’d rather You used me for fruit, not for Bread!”
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay. Empty and broken it helplessly lay. No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose, To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find, I will mend and use it and make it all Mine.” “I need not the vessel with pride of its self; Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf; Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud; Nor one who displays his contents so proud; Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right; But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.”
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay. Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day. Spoke to it kindly. “There’s work you must do, Just pour out to others as I pour into you.”
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