Confession

I must confess my area of pride or arrogance is in my desire and need to be self-sufficient. I want to be independent and be able to show that I can do it on my own and it is hard for me to accept provisionary help from others.

For the longest time, I hadn't realized that this was a pride issue area for me, because I don't mind asking people for help when it comes to gifts and talents and other resources, but when it comes to money and finances, I like to take care of myself and feel as though I am pretty good at it. I can live on a tight budget and survive.

So to say that this is an area of weakness feels odd. Because it is an area where I don't want to admit weakness because it is an area where I feel proud.

I don't even need to wonder how much this pride has gotten in the way in ministry. I know. It is still hard to admit.

I can remember the times that my father has also modeled this type of pride and expected it from me. I can hear his voice saying, "It doesn't matter what you do with your life as long as you can take care of yourself and aren't a burden to society," as well as other comments criticizing those he considers to be lazy or non-self-sufficient.

But that is not its only source. It comes from a place of knowing that I am not in control of life, yet one place I feel control is in my budgeting and giving. And here, maybe perhaps I am also a bit arrogant, that giving is a priority to me and to give sacrificially is okay. Although giving sacrificially when it hurts relationships with others is difficult for me.

So, to trust God and let go. Hmmm. I trust God to provide for me in all ways, yet I'm not willing to let one of those ways be in the people who are the closest to me.

I like the random check in the mail or the phone call from a church asking me to preach - things that seem to appear to be direct gifts from God. But, when my dad gives me 20 bucks and says "here, go do something fun" or my boyfriend offers to pay for the gas in my car, somehow I don't see these as ways that God is providing for me. But, He is!

Instead of feeling as though the kind gifts from the people closest to me are a reminder that I can't provide for myself, I need to see these gifts as exactly what they are - gifts! (If I was given an object instead of money, I'd receive it, why don't I have the same attitude about money? - Pride!) Instead of feeling like I'm using the people I love if I accept the gifts, because that is not at all my intention, I need to be overflowing with gratefulness that they want to bless me.

I love to give! I need to allow my family and friends the same pleasure.

Forgive me God. Help me to swallow my pride and see Your presence in the gifts from my loved one's. Help me to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness rather than an attitude of sacrifice and pain. Help me not to martyr myself emotionally, but rather to rejoice in the community of brotherhood and sisterhood that you have created. Help me to say "thanks!" and mean it whole-heartedly and allow my receiving, my thankfulness, to be a gift to those who are giving.
But most of all Lord - I am sorry, I need your help, and please forgive me.

Comments

Sydney Darnay said…
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first" (Mark 10:29-31, NIV).

It seems to me that a great many devoted Christians have a blind spot when they read this passage. They see the cost of following Jesus is sacrifice (willingness to leave all for God) and the reward in this life is persecution. Somehow, however, these Christians seem less willing to accept the other promise that comes in this life and which offsets the persecutions: an abundant family in Christ--including their "fields!" This passage foreshadows precisely what took place in the early church: the believers were "one in heart and mind" (Acts 4:32, NIV). And did that only manifest itself through fellowship and corporate prayer? By no means! They shared their lands also: "There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need" (Acts 4:34-35, NIV). Clearly we are expected to support one another!

Now, just to be fair, I will point out that though Paul asserts the right of ministers to be supported by their congregations in 1 Cor. 9, he also points out in several places how he went to great lengths not to do so when possible (Acts 20:33-35, I Cor. 9:12-15, I Thess. 2:9, II Thess. 6-10). But, note that II Cor. 11:7-9 shows that Paul also exercised this right upon some churches in order to serve others (also, Phil. 4:10-19).

So, I think you may be somewhat overly self-critical--there is obviously merit in desiring to be independent, "that [we] may have something to share with those in need" (Eph. 4:28, NIV)--but this must be balanced against the fact that "the worker deserves his wages" (Luke 10:7, I Tim. 5:18). So, next time someone--be he biological or spiritual family--offers you a portion of his "fields" to enable you to have a well-deserved evening out, or perhaps to fill up your car, in recognition of your service for the Lord, thank him, and thank God--for he is fulfilling his promise to us who believe and follow him!

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