Proverbs 13:10. Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Pride. Why is it always pride? I rest assured that I am not alone in this struggle or there wouldn’t be so many warnings, calls, and heeds to stand on guard against it. But it can be such an elusive and sneaky problem, can’t it?
Case in point, not too terribly long ago I found myself in the grips of its nasty hold. I didn’t realize it in the heat of the argument. I just wanted to be heard. Isn’t that what we all want? I wanted my heart to be understood.What’s wrong with that? (The series of “I’s” in all these statements would have been a great clue, in retrospect.) I wanted my reasoned and correct point heard for what I had convinced myself would be “just once!”. Truth be known, I’m probably heard more often than I deserve. What’s even more alarming is what is heard — the wellspring of my heart — is probably the exact thing that is retained, which is far from a good thing. My well-springing heart is full of dirty water. Dirty because of that pride problem I have failed to address.
Which brings me to my illustration. As I was cleaning the house that following morning — really cleaning — corners, under beds, dust bunny removal, dead bug extractions, I sighed in exasperation. “How can this be? I keep a clean home. I clean my house every week and I manage clutter all week. How can two people and one small dog create such ick?” That’s when the Holy Spirit pricked me again. Oh. Just like the corners in my house that are so easy to overlook on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis, so are the corners of my heart. The corners where those little demons hide building, toiling, and gathering all the dead bugs, pieces of lint, and dust weaving them into a trap until finally they rear their ugliness –right in the middle of what could have been a productive and fruitful conversation. While wisdom would have taken the bits of truth and used them for good, pride reared its ugly head making a mockery of my carefully guarded thoughts and a sham of any self-respect I might have retained. And even worse, I ironed a wrinkle into a beautiful friendship.
My friend. My God-given voice of reason. My beautiful friend whom I have a tendency to compare myself to a little too much. While she and I are similar in many ways such as our desire to love the Lord and lead a life that glorifies Him, love our families and rear them to His making, conquer the world and be “successful”, we are very different in other ways. Our drive is similar, but our personalities are not. I envy her ability to persuade people, move mountains, and accomplish so much. I envy my perception that everyone listens to her and wants to be with her. That’s when that demon called jealousy enters and digs its foot into my heart. “You could be heard. Your ideas are good. Say them louder.” Or sometimes, it’s just the opposite. I don’t say them louder. Like Spiegel in The Lord of the Rings, I slink off to myself and give in to that recording in my head that tells me to simply withdraw, disengage, and become indifferent. I am useless when I am indifferent. I am a foul odor that invades every corner when I am indifferent. Shame on me.
Lord, as I vacuumed out the corners in my home today, please vacuum out the corners of my heart where these sinful demons lurk and lay wait for my times of weakness. Guard my thoughts, censor those that do not edify and bring glory to you. Speak wisdom through my actions and my speech, and create in me a clean heart that brings glory to you.