September 27, 2014

Praying Big To Get Small, Part I: Putting To Death The Old

I always thought I would need to pray for strength to get through tough things. I always thought I would be able to draw on my physical strength and spiritual strength. I was always one to fall back on bigness and fortitude. I was kind of right. I needed strength of the spiritual kind but not to live up to something…but rather down to it. It is hard for a big man with a chip on his shoulder to get small. I never once imagined I would need to pray profusely over a long period of trials for the humbleness that I now find myself in search of. I am a weightlifter and former powerlifter. I remained single until I was thirty three years old because I wanted to assure I met the right person for marriage and not go the divorce route so many of my friends had traveled. I believed myself to be the picture of self-reliance. I picked myself by my bootstraps and soldiered on. I worked my way up from an entry-level position in drafting and ended up in middle management in a Teir One, Class 8 truck manufacturer. At midlife I went back to school to get a degree in theology and a minor in business. My entire life was a picture of tenaciousness and perseverance.

It all ended up working against me when I needed to become relationship intensive. I never imagined meekness would become such a struggle for me. Humble for me has become my albatross. It is the millstone that repeatedly drags me down no matter how hard I try to surface for air. I had figured what I was doing was humility but it turns out it was a false humility. It was mostly a show and I didn’t realize it. I was behaving like I believed people wanted me to when dealing with anything concerning “church” or “ministry” related but behind the scenes I was really just being the same selfish and arrogant jerk, especially to my family. "I" came first in things. I was still my own idol. In the twelve years I stayed single to try and work through my own issues I became further entrenched in my ways. Sinful ways. Selfish ways. Condemning ways.

I used to be all about getting big so doing the opposite is posing a challenge to me heretofore unseen. It is all alien to me. The more I tried under my own power to go against the forces that were keeping me “big” and self-consumed, the more I realized I was battling something within myself that was, well, bigger than me. It was at this point I saw the full face of entrenched sin. I intellectually wanted to repent of it but my emotions and feelings were clearly getting in the way.

Yes, feelings and emotions (pesky things that they are for men). Primarily anger and right on its heels - a lack of patience. Until this point I did not realize that these two were severely handicapped by the Fall of man. Because my perception (and man's in general) has been morally twisted in Original Sin, I could no longer trust my feelings or emotions without first filtering them through Scripture. If I didn’t and just let certain aspects of these fly, they quickly became angers and frustrations. The truth is that it looked just like real humility in public but when I got around familiar people such as my family… condescension surfaced and then the sin of impatience quickly followed by anger.

I realized I needed to pray for God to help gain control over these sins and inabilities. Because my perceptions have been twisted by sin. I fully realized I am essentially incapable of recognizing and gaining control over my own sinful actions and hypocrisies. My sinful nature was to always deny they were “that bad”. As I said, it was a false humility. It might not have been intentional but it was clear I allowed feelings and emotions too much sway in my life and was incapable of reining them in on own. This is never acceptable and it is unbiblical. The Bible is littered with comments to the contrary. These comments are nearly always accompanied by suggestions on how to deal with these types of issues too.

Colossians 2:18 ~ “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.”

The whole idea above had to do with forms of false worship to God, specifically angel worship which is unbiblical and acetic practices that were self-abasing. In other words, to do things through self-denial (humility) thinking it will gain merit with God. Paul was attempting to get people to not use works related salvation methods. He is essentially saying that false humility in the presence of others serves no purpose and people should specifically avoid it.

Instead he tells his readers to not submit to works or regulations because they are in reality man-made religion and that just doesn’t save people. Instead we are to die to self in this world and walk towards Christ (Chap. 3). We need to put on the new self. We should set our minds on the things of Heaven (Col 3:1-3) because we have died to the things of this world and we should now be in Christ.

Furthermore, Paul goes into specific sins in detail in Chapter 3:5-8 that will incur the wrath of God. Sins that will inevitably be allowed to flourish because of false humility being given free reign. What are they? Anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene speech and lying. When I had false humility it wasn’t uncommon for at least anger, wrath, malice, and obscene speech to rear their ugly heads at least in my private life around my immediate family. This just wasn’t acceptable and was an indicator of my true heart condition. It need to change so I finally truly repented of these specific sins and prayed to God to help me to put them to death. I asked Him to help me put on the new self.

So I have turned to prayer and ask God to help me put on that new man of Colossians 3. Its all about submitting my will and desires to the needs of others. True humility is offering one’s life up in service to another.

[Concluded in Part II]


Mrs. Abella said...

This is a very good article! I've been using the same premise to work on my weight loss, dealing with the sin of gluttony. It couldn't truly start until after dealing with the sin, laying it at Jesus' feet, and repenting of it. Oh the doors that have opened since!

Thank you for the reminder and encouragement!

Andy Pierson said...

Thank you Mrs. Abella. I am glad you took something positive away from this post. That is what I pray many will do when they come here to read. Good luck with your weight loss. BTW, you have a nice blog at Sunny Patch Cottage
It is quaint and has a nice Victorian/rustic feel to it. God bless you. Andy P

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