One of the first complete sentences my daughter learned to formulate as a toddler was, “Me do it by mine elf!” I applauded Erin’s desire to be self-sufficient, except when her desire to be independent outweighed her ability to manage on her own.
She often refused to hold my hand while walking because she wanted to walk by herself. Occasionally she would momentarily get lost in the shuffle of a crowd or would fall facedown on the sidewalk, crying for Mommy or Daddy to pick her up. While this may sound like irresponsible parenting, we knew that forcing her to hold our hand would teach her nothing. Allowing her to stumble and fall a little would teach her not to be too proud to ask for help when she needed it. Our heavenly Father does the same with us. He never forces us to take His hand but allows us to experience the need for His hand so that we will desire it. When we tell ourselves, I can handle this battle on my own, I don’t need help, I can manage without accountability, we set ourselves up for a fall.
I recently heard a statement that made my heart skip a beat: “You are never more like Satan than when you are full of pride.” Isn’t it true? Pride got Satan expelled from heaven. Pride hinders sinners from asking Jesus to be their Savior and submitting to His Lordship. And pride keeps Christians from repenting from the things that cause them to stumble and fall, such as sexual and emotional compromise.
The consequences of pride can be truly devastating. Eve’s pride got her expelled from the Garden of Eden when she was deceived into believing, “I can be as wise as God if I eat this fruit.” When Moses was leading God’s people through the desert, he assumed that God needed his help when he asked the Israelites, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). This failure to honor God as the only one capable of such a miracle disqualified Moses from being the leader who would actually usher the people into the Promised Land. When David peered down from his roof at Bathsheba, he must’ve said to himself, “I am the king, and the king gets whatever the king wants.” His pride led him to commit adultery with Bathsheba and then murder her husband, Uriah, by sending this loyal commander to the battlefront to ensure that he would die. I’m sure Eve, Moses, and David would testify that sometimes pride can rear its ugly head and bite you before you even recognize it has invaded your heart. Therefore, in this battle for sexual and emotional integrity, it is important you learn to recognize pride and repent of it before you take a fall.
Here are some illustrations of how pride can make us vulnerable to sexual and emotional temptation:
~ Although she is married, Carla claims it’s no big deal when her friend Danny flirts and jokes around with her. When he tosses out some sexual innuendo, she responds in kind, insisting that any woman would do the same. Translation: The rules of right and wrong don’t apply to me. I can bend the standards of righteousness because others do it as well.
~ Once active in an accountability group, Alicia has dropped attending because of the time she spends with her new boyfriend, Rob. Concerned about her sudden disappearance, Alicia’s friend from the group has tried to call several times just to make sure Alicia is staying grounded in her commitment to keep God first in her life and not get sucked into another sexual relationship. Alicia finds the calls annoying, refuses to pick up the phone, and wishes everyone would just leave her and Rob alone. Translation: I don’t need anyone holding me accountable. I’m above temptation or reproach. What I do is nobody else’s business.
~ Shirley’s premenstrual moods have driven her husband of fifteen years further and further away. To compensate for her lack of emotional connection, her conversations with a friendly male coworker have gotten more and more intimate. Translation: If I can’t get my emotional needs met by my husband, I’ll get them met elsewhere.
Pride assumes several things:
~ I deserve whatever I desire.
~ My needs should be met at any cost.
~ Life is all about me and my pleasure.
~ The rules apply to everyone else but me.
~ I’m above the consequences.
While we may never say these statements out loud, don’t our actions sometimes prove these attitudes to be true?
If we long to be women of sexual and emotional integrity, we must surrender our pride. James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” We can imagine what being opposed by God might look like (and shudder at the thought!). But what does God’s “grace to the humble” look like? Titus 2:11-14 describes it vividly:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Do you want to be able to say no to worldly passions? To live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life? To be purified as God’s very own? To be eager to do what is good? You can’t do these things “by mine elf!” as Erin used to say. But God can give you what you need when you humble yourself before Him and say, “I surrender my pride. I need help if I am to experience your plan for my sexual and emotional fulfillment, and I’m willing to be held accountable for my actions.”
Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.