Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Pride

Today, studying Matthew with my group of bible study friends, it struck me that my preoccupation with fairness is really just the same old problem resurfacing, dressed differently. My Pride, whether it surfaces as self pity (which is really what the cry for fairness is all about) or just plain pride....different sides of the same coin.

My pride takes ownership of my own accomplishments, wants recognition, to echo my son's words, my pride says "I want to do it by myself"  so that the praise is for me alone. I exalt myself, thinking I've earned the good things that are coming my way....

My "it's not faiiiir" cry usually places ownership of the problem somewhere else.... I deserve better than this. I take exception to others' "good fortune" because didn't I work hard? Don't I deserve more than they have?

Ah conviction. It's a weird feeling isn't it?  For those of you who maybe aren't Christian...I'd liken the feeling to a mixture of inspiration, guilt, excitement, devotion.... like a growing butterfly-ish feeling in your stomach. You know what you're being called to do and your passion to do right, be better, grow more has been renewed.

Today my bible study focused on a passage that screamed out to me as exactly what I was looking for as I wrote yesterday. It's found in Matthew 20. The parable of the workers in the vineyard. If you're unfamiliar with it, I'll try to sum it up:

Workers are in their master's vineyard working, the owner is very generous, they've agreed upon a very fair wage for their day of work. Workers continue showing up all day, even as late as 4pm. We'll call them the late comers. The early risers watch as the late comers get paid the same amount as they were promised and become enraged. Why should they earn as much as we earned? We worked all day long, and "they" don't deserve as much as we are getting.

It sounds awfully familiar to my own ears. I know I couldn't have come up with a better response than Jesus did.

"I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn't we agree upon a denarius [for payment]....I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I am giving you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with what is my own?  Or is your eye envious because I am generous?"  Matthew 20:13-15

I am a very prideful person. I've grown up in a society that encourages "earning your way" "getting what you deserve". Study hard, earn good grades. Work harder than everyone else, earn more money. You get what you work for. But in God's upside down economy, it's hard to reconcile that we are already getting MORE than we deserve. It's hard not to look with envy upon "blessings" that others have. It's hard not to feel prideful about your own accomplishments (or sometimes even harder to not feel prideful about our children's accomplishments)

I'm not sure how to change. It seems too hard. In fact, impossible. But yet.... the disciples felt the same way.... "how then can anyone be saved" they asked Jesus..... "It's humanly impossible. But with God, all things are possible." He replied.

The funniest thing to me about conviction is the way we push it aside, bury it deep inside of us, try to hide it so that we don't have to change. Get lost in the busy-ness of every day life and push our thoughts of God's Way aside.

Hold that thought, my phone is ringing. and the TV is loud, making it hard to finish this thought.... and oh shoot, I think dinner is burning. That butterfly feeling was probably just the greasy lunch I had.

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