By Bill Gaultiere
Soul Shepherding Moments, © 2013
There are two integrated movements that define my life: meditating on Jesus and obeying his words. Meditating on God’s Word is joyful intimacy with Jesus. Obeying the Lord is loving others. These are the inner and outer journeys of spiritual formation in Christ. Both movements please the Lord!
But many things can divert me from this path of “Being with Jesus to become like him.” One is the subtle detour of pride.
Pride and Grace
What is pride? It is not speaking with confidence in your God-given dignity and your God-enabled capabilities, which actually is humility and manifests in emptying yourself to love God and others. The kind of pride that is sinful and deadly is to promote or rely on yourself rather than God. This is a sneaky sin that to some extent is universal in all people, including ministers, leaders, and caregivers who intend to be serving the Lord.
For instance, we may say that we depend upon God’s grace, but a careful look at the way that we’re actually living our lives might show that we depend more on our own intelligence or abilities. One problem is our definition of grace. What is grace? If you’ve studied Christian theology then probably you’ve learned that it’s “unmerited favor.” Yes, but grace is far more than a credit on my heavenly account. Grace is God acting generously in my life to do what I can’t do on my own. Grace is power — power to do good today.
Live by Grace
Ultimately, to be “saved by grace” should mean the way I live my daily life looks like how Jesus would live it if he were me. Say you’re participating in a business meeting, helping someone with a problem, or working on a project, how would you know if you were relying on yourself or God? Anxiety. Usually, if you’re relying on yourself then you’ll end up straining and stressing, but if you’re relying on God with you and within you then as you do what you’re doing you’ll have a sense of ease and probably a sense of humor too!
Often I catch myself trying too hard and beginning to get anxious — but actually that’s good news because then I can re-orient myself to rely on God’s grace in the moment and get back in tune with the Spirit of Christ. If we confess our pride and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of the Lord who cares for us then he raises us up to do his work without anxiety (1 Peter 5:6-7). But if we continue straining then God will let us carry on without him and we’re sure to get anxious, angry, slide into compulsive behavior, or get depressed.
A Prayer “To Please the Lord”
Here’s a prayer that helps to remind me to rely on the Lord Jesus and not myself. It’s inspired by Psalm 104:34-35:
To Please the Lord
Lord Jesus Christ,
I meditate on your words to rejoice in you;
I rest in the Father’s love with you.
Lord Jesus Christ,
I obey your words to please you;
I rely on your Spirit to love others as you do.
Live by Grace, Not Anxiety
Try my little Breath Prayer, “In Jesus’ name… Not my Strain.” Wow! It really helps. I’ve shared it with pastors, leaders, and caregivers who have used this prayer to tap into the grace-giving power of the Name.
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Bill Gaultiere, Ph.D. and his wife Kristi Gaultiere, Psy.D. are founders of Soul Shepherding, a 501c3 nonprofit ministry. As counselors, spiritual mentors, speakers, and retreat leaders since 1987 they facilitate intimacy with Jesus for pastors and all kinds of ministry leaders from around the world. Bill is the author of You Can Live in Jesus’ Easy Yoke. You can sign up to receive his soul care messages by e-mail, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn.