In this characteristic, Chan really focuses on the sin of vanity, but I think our battle with humility encompasses more than our vanity...but I'll get to that in a little while. First, let's look at Chan's characteristic:
"A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be 'humble enough,' and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known (Matt. 5:16)."
Chan opens up this passage with the following statement: "The church in America loves to turn saints into celebrities, to make known the stories of the humble people who have faithfully served Christ in some way... But there can be a tragic consequence to it: Too many of these people fall for the praise and start to believe that they really are something special." p. 137.
On a personal note, I must say that it rubs me the wrong way (a little) when we are referred to as NOT being special. The point here is that Jesus is special... the "most specialist," as my son likes to say! But, because of Jesus... because God loved us so much, He gave gave us Jesus... that makes us special. Worthy? No. But, God's love for us... Jesus' sacrifice for us... makes us special. But, often times, we forget (or never fully understand!) that being set apart in this way DOESN'T make us the center of the world. It doesn't place us on a pedestal. What it does is make us accountable. Because we are special, we are called to live our lives in a very unique way... 100% counter-intuitive to today's societal mores. Because we are special, we are called to deny ourselves and give all glory to God... because, in the end, He's the one that's responsible for us actually being "special," right?
So, if this is true... why are we so hesitant to give the glory to God? Here's Chan's opinion on the subject: "It's pride, plain and simple, that keeps me from giving God all the glory and keeping some of it for myself. It is a battle we all fight, in some form or another, some of us daily or even hourly." p. 138.
In my opening statement, I alluded to the fact that vanity isn't the only stumbling block we encounter in our spiritual growth. Chan touches on it here when he refers to pride being a battle we all face "in some form or another." So, I want to take a moment to focus on another form of pride: Our need for affirmation. Some of us, myself included, have a deep seeded need for affirmation. I can trace mine back to childhood. For me, I grew up in a home where love was conditional. I received acknowledgement when I was making straight A's or singing a solo in a choir concert, but besides that, my parents didn't really give me the time of day. (That's not to say that they didn't love me. I know they did. But, from my perspective, their love was conditional. They didn't really acknowledge me unless I was doing "something" worth acknowledging.) Fast forward 20 years, I still fight the urge for acknowledgement, just in a different arena. Now, I'm a stay-at-home mom of three, soon to be four, children. Sometimes, I don't see my own value... better yet, I fear that I will be seen by others as "just a mom"... and I know there is great importance in my role as a mother. I'm not belittling that. But, there is a stereotype out there about stay-at-home moms and I want people to know that I'm not that stereotype... which comes back to pride. Unlike vanity and thinking that you're much more important than you actually are, the pride associated with the need for acknowledgement, in my opinion, is more sinister because it has to do with a need for OTHER people to give you validation. It's a backhanded take on pride, that equally robs God of the glory... the glory of validating your existence, your worth to Him... because the opinion of man really means nothing.
So... what do we do? The answer is simple: pray. Chan writes: "One of the ways I know to fight against pride is through focused prayer. What I mean is that before you say one word to God, take a minute and imagine what it would be like to stand before His thrown as you pray." For those that suffer with vanity, I can't imagine anything more humbling. For those that suffer from insecurity (or the need for acknowledgment), focus on the fact that God in His glory is far more important... His opinion of us is far more important... than the opinion of any man or woman on this earth... no matter who they are.
Do you ever rob God of His rightful glory? It's a really interesting question to ponder. When I was first asked that question a few years ago, I honestly had no idea what it really meant. Now, looking back, I can see examples in my life where I most definitely robbed God of His glory.... times when someone thanked me for something I did or said (which, consequently, were due to the prompting of God); or those times when I would pat myself on the back for a job well done, not once acknowledging God (yet alone thanking Him) for the capabilities, given by Him, to do the job. The scary thing is that I truly had no clue that I was robbing God of anything... or that I was completely ignoring His involvement in my life.
Spend some time reflecting on your own life... God's involvement in your life. Give Him the glory today in all you do... See what changes you notice.