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Pride, Contentions & Brokenness

November 13, 2009

With pride comes only contention, but wisdom is with the well-advised.  Pro 13:10 (NET)

The one who despises instruction will pay the penalty, but whoever esteems instruction will be rewarded. Pro 13:13 (NET)

Instruction from the wise is like a life-giving fountain, to turn a person from deadly snares. Pro 13:14 (NET)

There are several verses that struck me in my reading of Proverbs today. They have to do with instruction and with attitudes.

Basically, what I am seeing this morning is that pride gets in the way of wisdom. It prevents us from hearing things that could keep us out of trouble and it causes us to be contentious (argumentative). If I am convinced that I am right to the point that I refuse to even listen to the words of another…I am in big trouble.

Now, I am not talking about things like Yeshua/Jesus being the Son of God…or Yahweh being Creator. Those are plainly stated in scripture and are not up for debate. No…I am talking about other things…like how to live life according to the scriptures. I am talking about listening to true wisdom from others whose desire is to keep me out of trouble!

There may be things that I am fully (and rightly) convinced of, but I should still at least listen to another’s view point. They might have some further insights or I may be able to share something with them that will open up new ideas to them. We can at least dialog.

However, when someone just wants to argue and not really discuss, it is time to move on. Sometimes people just cannot hear anything other than what they believe…and they are “contentious” about it. It will do no good to pursue it even though you can see where they are headed.

There are many who are much wiser than I. They have gone through things and learned much. Am I willing to listen and take to heart the lessons they have learned? Am I willing to listen to their instruction and advice? Am I willing to be open enough to actually take heed of what they say? Could it be that they see something in me that I am unaware of and need to pay attention to?

If I let my pride get in the way (or my “need” to be right), I am not going to listen to others. I am going to run blindly into situations that may hurt me. I am going to make choices that are detrimental to me and, possibly, to those around me.

We like to think that we are islands and that what we do or say only effects us, but that is a false way of viewing life. What we do and say does effect others…and sometimes those others are the very ones we love the most…or who love us the most.

I know that I and some others were deeply effected by the actions of someone I loved years ago. The man was too proud (and broken) to listen to or heed any godly wisdom. We all paid the price for that…him included. But I cannot point the finger at him without having some pointing back at me.

You see, there is a reason I wrote “need to be right” and “broken” above. Sometimes, we are too broken to be able to hear from another. I know that has been the case for me…and I suspect for him, too. I think that what we sometimes view as “pride” is really a reflection of something broken deep within a person. I knew this man well enough to see his brokenness…a brokenness even admitted by him in some of his moments of clarity.  I, too, have been very broken.

There was a time in my life when being right meant I was OK and being wrong meant there was something wrong with me. It is not difficult to imagine how that kind of belief effected my interactions with others. There was something in the way I was raised that embedded that lie deeply within me. It effected every aspect of my life…especially spirituality.

I wanted the truth…yet I needed to be right in order to be OK. Because of that, there were times when I would get into “contentions” with others about certain things that I held onto deeply. In my “worldview”, there was no way we could both be right.  That meant that, if you and I disagreed about something, I would have debate it to the end. It was like a knee jerk reaction that I was captive to. I needed for me to convince you or you to convince me. Either outcome was fine, but we could not both be right in my way of thinking. My thinking was very black and white. There were no gray areas.

I am very grateful that, as I kept looking to my Creator and seeking truth, Yeshua broke through that and changed me. He enabled me to see the “grays” and delivered me from that kind of belief system. He enabled me to be able to see that people can have differing understandings of things and that it was OK! What an incredibly freeing thing that was…and still is! I have experienced a lot of healing in this area.

So, for me, it is not that I thought I was better than anyone else…or more knowledgeable. It was not pride that drove me so much as it was brokenness. Yet, I know that I came across to others as being prideful. I am SO grateful to the ones who saw beyond that “pride” to the brokenness beneath. They are the few who saw something worth investing their wisdom in.

I don’t know…but I am thinking here. Since pride is a sin…and sin is the result of fallen people…perhaps ALL pride is really, at least on some level, brokenness. Mankind started off with a very real, very alive connection with our Creator. They walked in the garden together! With the fall, though, that connection was broken. Mankind was broken. So, I guess you could say that pride is the result of being broken…at least to some extent.

We are all broken. So we all have a choice to make. We can accept that fact of our brokenness and work toward healing…or we can stay stuck in the brokenness. Sometimes we have been wounded so deeply in our younger years that, as in my case, it seemed as if there was no choice. It is just the “way we are”. Yet, as my life is testimony to…even that can be changed!

Those of us who can recognize our own brokenness (resulting in sinfulness) and choose to listen to the wisdom of those who have dealt with their own brokenness can be open to hear and learn…and to be changed. We are, hopefully, NOT going to be contentious.

Those of us who cannot (or will not) be open to recognizing our own brokenness (and sinfulness) are doomed to stay stuck in it. Trying to point wisdom out to them will only bring contention…and they will keep on repeating the same broken patterns of living over and over again. What a very sad thing that is.

Well…those are my thoughts this morning. I hope they make sense to someone else out there. *smile*

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