Let’s dive right into pride, shall we? I remember when I was in high school, I applied for the prestigious Morehead Cain scholarship at UNC. I found out about the scholarship when I was in 9th grade, so I made sure that I remained qualified throughout my four years of high school. By the time senior year rolled around, I was convinced that I would get the scholarship because I did everything right.
I had plenty of community service under my belt, leadership roles came naturally, and my GPA was fantastic. I thought I was IT, and my application couldn’t do anything less but match perfection. Looking back during that time, I realize now how arrogant I was. I didn’t get the scholarship, and I remember crying for like 2 days straight.
Although 2 days doesn’t sound like a lot, I boo-hooed morning, noon, and night. It was a really hard moment in time for me, and I learned that it was my pride that caused me to fail. If I wasn’t so focused on what I wanted, it’s possible that the failure wouldn’t have hurt as bad as it did. Definitely one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since walking with Christ.
Since then, I have seriously made it my mission to avoid being prideful primarily because I never want to feel like that ever again. Emphasis on ever again. But recently, I have recognized God just stripping another layer of pride off, and this experience is so much different. In high school, I was stripped from an outward pride called arrogance. But this time, I was being stripped of an inward pride called self-righteousness. And I had to look up the definitions to make sure I was right.
Arrogance (n.) [ar-ug-guh ns]: offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride
Self-righteousness (n.) [self-rahy-chuh s]: confident of one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behaviors of others.
Writing it out makes it so obvious now, but I really thought I was holier than everyone else. Thinking back, I sit here and ask myself “Who did I think I was/am?” My thoughts towards people were just so nasty. Oh her? Yeah, she parties and goes out every weekend. Way holier than her. Oh, that girl? Completely unreliable. What a shame. Definitely better than her. I go to church more. She’s a hypocrite. Like I said, nasty. And God was probably looking down at me thinking, “Wait until she sees what I’m going to do next!” No one can convince me that God doesn’t have jokes.
But as I’ve discussed in my past blog posts, I’ve recently delayed my plans of applying to medical school. As a result, I’ve been expecting God to show up with some awesome surprise and/or plan for my life because I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be doing when I graduate. I remember asking God to give me direction in what I should be doing with my life, and I was really depending on John 16:13.
But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
I don’t know how many times I repeated this prayer. I was so confident that He would reveal His great plans for me. So I waited. And waited, and waited some more. I figured if I just waited patiently for Him to do whatever He had planned that things would all fall into place. And don’t get me wrong, God definitely has a way of making things fall into place, but when things didn’t turn out how I would have liked (i.e didn’t get the MCAT score I wanted, wasn’t doing as well as I wanted in school, didn’t have the friends I was looking for, didn’t feel ‘sold out’ for Christ, etc.), the whole experience really threw me off guard.
And you can only imagine how bitter I felt. I was b-i-t-t-e-r. At one point, I started to think that God wasn’t going to answer me, and honestly, I still needed some persuading in believing that He had already answered. I really felt alone and guess how I responded? By telling God that I didn’t want to spend time with Him if He wasn’t going to give me what I wanted. Right. Who’s in control here, again? Even I was shocked by my own immaturity. Yet looking back, I think I was reading the wrong scripture. I should have been looking at 1 Corinthians 4:5 or Daniel 2:22.
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. – 1 Corinthians 4:5
He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22
Reading those verses, I think that God already answered me, and it was in a completely different way than I expected. God said He would give me my daily bread, not the entire picture of what will happen in the future 10 years from now. So basically, I got caught up in myself again. And since realizing this, I have really seen the darkness of my heart.
To try and put it in words, I felt disgusting. I felt nasty on the inside. Broken. Immature. Just overall dirty. And frankly, I was disappointed with myself. I repented and asked God to cleanse me, and I’m thankful that I was forgiven, but I don’t think I forgave myself. It’s a terrible feeling to realize everything that I thought I was doing right, I was really doing wrong.
The deep and hidden things, and the darkness that 1 Corinthians and Daniel talk about were all being exposed. I felt so self-righteous in believing that my heart for God was pure and genuine, but God exposed me. He stripped me bare of that self-righteousness to uncover what’s underneath. Instead of revealing His future plans for me, He revealed my selfishness in my relationships. He revealed my lack of love towards understanding other people. He revealed how discontent I was in my relationship with Him. He revealed my lack of patience for trusting in His plans. He revealed my immaturity in handling what He gave me. He revealed all these ugly things, and then basically told me to take some time to process it all.
And guess what? I didn’t like it because it wasn’t my current situation that needed to change, it was me. I was confident in believing that God had all these great plans for me, but He couldn’t give me any of it because my heart was not in the right place. Here I was waiting on God, when God was the one who was waiting on me.
But in the midst of all that ugliness, I found hope. It just goes to show that Christ knows us better than we know ourselves. I thought I wanted good fortune, but God gave me what I needed, which was a good cleansing. And that’s the praise part that 1 Corinthians is talking about. I’m thankful that God humbled me so that I could see myself for who I really am. I would rather feel spiritually refreshed and clean than dirty and worldly rich over any given day. So in that realization, my friends, I didn’t receive a blessing that I entirely wanted or asked for. I received a blessing that I am eternally grateful to have because it draws me closer to Christ in the long run. Such a sovereign God He is!
So what about you? Do you have any experiences with self-righteousness?
Hanha is the founder behind Transparency Blog, and she is super passionate about encouraging women to find their identity and belonging in Christ! A few fun facts? She’s addicted to Grey’s Anatomy, has a special place in her heart for Chick-fila-A, and podcasts are her present obsession. In her spare time, she daydreams about places she can travel and loves connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!