By Michelle Moore
There is often wisdom shared from God’s Word (as well as other sources) about the downfalls of “pride”. Let’s face it, most (if not all) know the saying “Pride comes before a fall.” Many (once again, if not all) have experienced such examples personally or, in the least, had a first-hand view (for those out there who don’t like to admit falling). In the same respect, “low self-esteem” is something people usually try to avoid now-a-days. I have realized that both of these side-effects usually happen because of bad comparisons and such.
It all started quite a long time ago.
“…Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Gen. 4:2b-5)
Personally, I don’t claim to know all the exact details of this offering. For all I know, Cain simply decided to give what he’d tended to God. I didn’t read that he was keeping back his best, and though it may even be implied, that’s not what I want to focus on right now. Even before Cain and Abel, we know who the first liar was. No wonder I don’t like snakes. God even goes on to warn Cain about this creepy, sneaky, little devil.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:6-7; my emphasis)
We know the rest of the sad story (and if you don’t, look it up). It was jealousy. It was a bad comparison. It was a lie. You heard who was at the door. Whether we think we’re “all that” (and better than anyone) or wish we were more like someone else, we’re falling for the lie.
So why am I writing about this…? Nope, haven’t killed anyone. Comparing is one of the many things I’ve been learning lately. I can lean both ways. Recently, I’ve started running with a group. I’ve learned that running is mostly mind over body. When I run, I find my mind battling against whether to stop or keep running (showing if I’m weak or not). When I’m around other hard-working Christians, I wonder if I’m working enough or if they think I’m lazy. When I have to speak publically after someone, I figure what I have to say isn’t really important. Then again, when someone makes a fool out of him or herself, I reason I’d never do that. When I rock something out (or do something well), people should take notice, right? Well… I think you get the point.
All of my life, I’ve looked at others and have either not measured up or think I’ve exceeded them. (Just a side note: this isn’t a 24/7 way of viewing people. I’m just saying that these side-effects reoccur.) Working here, I’m around amazing missionaries who have stuck it out for years and years (some for longer than I’ve been alive). They’ve got a tremendous work-ethic, are encouraging, and know SO much more than I do (along with the practical experience in their fields). On the other hand, there are also baby Christians here. I could make the point that I’ve been in the “family” almost all of my life, gone to Bible college, and have the Word of God not only in my own language, but, moreover, have other sources (commentaries, etc.) that can expand my understanding if I get confused. This isn’t exclusively about Pride and Prejudice …umm, I mean Belittlement of one’s self. It’s about lies and focus. Therefore, I came up with a few steps to hopefully counter these effects. (Yes, they all start with “R”.)
Step 1: Realize what’s up. Take notice of what’s going through your mind. If it’s a side-effect like pride or low self-esteem (with possible jealousy tendencies), it’s probably a safe bet it’s a trap set up by a freaky snake at your door.
Step 2: Remember who God is. He is Truth, Light, Creator, Savior, Father, Redeemer, etc. (really… keep naming His titles and meditate on His character). He’s our focus and the One we can strive to be like (and yet still accepts us as we are). [See Galatians 1:10 if you like.]
Step 3: After the refresher on God’s character, Recall who we are to Him. You are His child (which means you’re worth it to Him) and so are all those in the “family” (so they’re as worth it as you are). To everyone else who hasn’t yet gone through the adoption process, “The Lord …is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) In other words (or the words of Owen Wilson in “Night At the Museum”), “I ain’t quittin’ you!” So I say “Hallelujah!”
Thus, here I am. Still a work in progress. I pray that God continues His work with all of us so that one day we will live in unity, truth, and light.
Michelle is a short term assistant serving through literacy.