One encouraging and hopeful conclusion we can draw from all of this is that pride is not a problem for God. God does not struggle with the character flaw of a swelled head. God’s sense of self-worth is so finely balanced and His perspective is so true in its outward looking viewpoint that He can rise above the destructive elements of pride. For God, puffed-up pride is an impediment…an unproductive distraction…that stands in the way of continuously active, creative thought.
But in our current fallen condition, swelled-headed pride is one of our biggest enemies. We think we know best. We want to do things our way. The central theme in the biblical narrative stories of faith is that God displaces our way with His way.
Joseph tries to procure his release from Pharaoh’s prison through the butler and baker…but this fails…because God has a better way. Joseph stays put in Pharaoh’s prison until God’s timing plays itself out perfectly.
Moses impulsively kills the Egyptian and must flee from Egypt into exile…having no concept of how God plans to liberate the growing nation of Israel in bondage in Egypt…until God’s correct timing plays itself out perfectly starting at the burning bush.
In his early military campaigns, David may optimistically think that he can quickly defeat the Philistines like he killed Goliath, and rid the nation of Israel from constant foreign threat. But David discovers over time that God’s ways are different from his own. David discovers that there is a definite process requiring patience, faith, and trust in God to becoming a godly king. David realizes that he cannot lower himself to take the shortcut route of killing King Saul himself on two separate opportunities, to make himself king. David realizes there is a right way to becoming the king of Israel, and that this right way belongs exclusively to God.
On the road to Damascus, as Jesus reveals Himself as Messiah to Saul the young Pharisee, Saul/Paul’s pride about the rightness of his own way is crucified on the cross of Christ, and a radical humility is born within Paul that will allow him to take the gospel message of grace and forgiveness…without condescension and self-righteous, judgmental pride… to the idol-worshipping, polytheistic Gentiles of the first-century Greco-Roman world.
No one likes the cross. Jesus did not enjoy the experience of the crucifixion. But through the cross of Christ both the Father and the Son are glorified. Self-sacrificing love is devoid of the negative aspects of pride such as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-5: ”love…vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh not her own.” God displacing our way with His way through the totally unconventional vehicle of a God-composed adventure of faith fundamentally cuts across the grain of our thinking that we know best.
When our cross gets heaviest, we are troubled. We get upset and complain to God. We want explanations and answers. A grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit is not a part of our presumed expectation for worldly conventional normalcy. It takes prayer and patience on our part for God to lovingly show us through the playing-out of life events what still needs to be fixed in our lives in order to bring forth much fruit.
Only the living God knows how to do the cross properly. The cross in our lives has pinpoint accuracy. For Jesus, the way of the cross eventually actualizes into a Roman cross on Calvary Hill. Our crosses are something unique and individually tailored to each of us. If the cross and the resurrection glorified Jesus and the Father (Jn. 13:31), our cross and resurrection as godly transformed new people in Christ will glorify both ourselves and God.
As Spirit-born Christians, if we are following Jesus down the road toward Calvary…if we are walking in the Spirit and God is on our side…there is nothing in all of existence that can defeat us no matter how daunting are the outward circumstances or the negative appearances of temporary failure. This is the liberating broadness of the reality of a journey of faith that is one of the priceless things Jesus purchased for us through the cross and the resurrection.