Have you ever read something in the Bible many times, and this time when you read it, a certain truth smacks you in the face?
I was reading about King Hezekiah in Second Chronicles recently. I noticed a truth that I’d never considered before. When he was under attack from Sennacherib, the dominating king of Assyria, Hezekiah’s relationship with God was solid. He prepared his people, and his city. In humility, he leaned hard on God. He prayed and trusted that God would deliver them.
And God did.
After the battle, people brought gifts of silver and gold to Hezekiah, and he stored them up. Somewhere in there, Hezekiah moved from a place of humility to a place of believing, “He was all that.” He forgot God’s role in the process of victory.
In the battle, we’re in survival mode. We may cling tightly to God during those times, asking for His wisdom, peace, deliverance. We’re humble because our need is staring us in the face. Every time we look in the mirror, in fact.
It’s after the battle when we let down our guard. When we see how we made it through, even thrived in the midst of it. People may even praise us for how we handled the situation, or how we performed.
Pride slips in when we begin to believe their words. The second we begin doing that? That’s the very instant pride wins. When we think we’re something. Especially if we believe them to the point of excluding God, or we diminish His role in the accomplishment.
The real battle begins when the physical victory’s already been won. It’s a battle in our hearts, our thoughts. And the prize is our very soul.
Here are four tips for maintaining an accurate perspective:
- Always, always remember Who enables us to do any good thing. And no, that is not us. God is the one who gives victory. Who enables us to serve Him well. Whether it’s in singing a solo, writing a great devotional, sharing the gospel with a difficult person or something else. We can do no good thing on our own. Not really.
- When those words of praise begin sounding good? Stop the train of thought that will lead you downward. Instead, invite God into the situation and thank Him for how He helped you.
3. Keep your guard up around your heart. After the struggle is over, we tend to relax. This is good, but we also need to examine our hearts to make sure our attitudes and thoughts are using a proper filter for praise.
4. If we embrace praise, we must also embrace criticism. Instead of allowing the positive and negative things people say to/about us to define how we see ourselves, let’s remember what God says about us. He is the giver of every good gift. He cherishes us, delights in us. Whether or not we’re great at exercising talents and abilities. Whether or not we’re good at leaning into Him during the hard times. We are not defined by others’ words.
We’re going to face trials in our lives. As important as our response is in the middle of them, it’s just as important that we maintain an accurate perspective in the aftermath. Praise is not a bad thing. Let’s just remember Who really deserves the praise and direct our hearts toward Him.
What about you? How do you respond when someone praises you? What would you add to my list when it comes to stopping pride from gaining traction in our hearts?