It strikes me that God is not interested in self-pity. Yes, we all have a sin problem. No, we don't have the right to sit around and gripe about it.
The particular issue I'm facing these days is submission.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow..."
[Philippians 2:5-10a NIV]
It's tough to know deep down that pride is the reason you aren't able to submit to the authorities in your life. Especially when that pride and independance seems to hold your life together.
Like Sam said, "Just let it go!" But like the ring of power, pride is not usually dropped so lightly. (I can't believe I'm quoting TLOTR)
"I hate pride and arrogance" [Prov. 8:13]
"Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall." [Prov. 16:18]
"And those who walk in pride He is able to humble." [Dan 4:37]
So how do we get rid of pride? By understanding our position in Christ.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ , in accordance with His pleasure and will -
to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the one He loves .
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure , which He purposed in Christ,
to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,
in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."
[Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV]
But it hurts! Pride is enjoyable, being in control is desirable, it is not fun to let God take control and let your authorities make decisions for you.
Moses could have been in control. He could have decided to keep his seat of power in Egypt, but what does Hebrews say of this man?
"He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking towards his reward."
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
Will I give up everything, even the pride which I hold close, for the Pearl of Great Price?
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." (I take this to mean do not put yourself in situations where you will be easily tempted to exercise the sin you are struggling with)
It isn't natural to treat other people as though they are better than yourself. It's not your first thought to defer to other people in conversations, listening to them with respect, especially if you think you know better than they. It is totally a foreign concept to our selfish, prideful natures to bow to authority...
...but God asks us to. God wants us to share in His holiness!!! Do we understand what that means? By giving up our rights, our demands, our ego, we grab onto the beautiful, glorious perfection of our Father. We see a glimpse of the victorious day to come, where God's will is done on earth and in heaven, and sin passes away forever, and what was once desirable above all else is revealed for the hollow, empty pleasure that it always had been, and the 'pearl of great price' becomes clear to our newly opened eyes.
Is the prize worth it?