I was meeting with a group of about fifteen to twenty guys last night, when the conversation took an unexpected turn. One of these guys is highly respected for his knowledge of the Bible and his zeal for sharing it with pretty much anyone who will listen. The numerous stories of how God uses him to help others are amazing.
But something he said last night triggered a bad reaction from one of the other, less mature guys. The situation escalated as more people got involved, some taking sides, some trying to make peace. From my perspective, the cause of the disagreement was far less significant than the motivations that drove the responses.
Once each man perceived an offense, there was no further reasoning with either one. The Bible warns us that it’s in our nature to get like that:
Prov 18:19: A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
But it also tells us we shouldn’t succumb to that part of our nature:
Prov 19:11: Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
2 Tim 2:24: The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged…
I’ve blogged before about my own difficulties in overlooking offenses. Our drive to prove ourselves “right” and to be vindicated for the sake of our own egos is a powerful force. We can’t overcome it without yielding to God and letting Him provide the victory. But yielding to anyone, including God, is the last thing we want to do in the midst of the battle when we’re defending our own pride.
Prov 11:2: When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.
Last night’s episode would have been dramatically different — in fact highly honoring to God — if either participant had approached the issue from a posture of humility. Instead, pride led to both parties being dishonored, God being dishonored (although He was honored by some of the surrounding responses), and relationships being bruised (although hopefully not broken).
I’ve spent time today praying and fasting for these two guys, that their relationship would be restored, that the Holy Spirit would lead them to see the truth of their own self-centered responses, and that God would bless them with the gift of humility.
This incident also makes me appreciate that we don’t have to be perfect for God to use us. I started off mentioning how God has used this one brother in tremendous ways — the pride that was displayed in this incident not withstanding. But as someone said last night, I believe God intends to use him in even greater ways than he can imagine — if he can learn to let go of his ego. Our pride is the ultimate cap that places a limit on how much God can be glorified through any of us.