My Flourishing Pride
(a description of all-to-common experiences in our churches)
The sin of pride has been budding and blossoming inside my heart lately. I am elated at the response I receive from my efforts to attract attention to myself. I am becoming more bold and daring in my adornment and attire.
Because of this, I decide to really make a hit at church one week. I chose a tight, short red dress. It glistens and sparkles and attractively reveals my figure. One could hardly ignore me in such attire.
I style my unnaturally colored hair in an elaborate arrangement until it is positively stunning. I make up my face to flawless perfection. My eyes and lips are tantalizingly seductive. My red fingernails add to the alluring picture. Dangling diamond earrings, glittering rings on my fingers and a diamond necklace add the final touch. I slip on my black high heels and I'm out the door.
As I walk into church, I feel heady and brazen. My entire focus is on myself. I am looking forward to seeing the reactions of others.
At the door, I am greeted by Mary and John. They both smile and greet me warmly, showing no reaction whatsoever to my attire. But then I encounter Sister Stern, and a glowering frown of obvious disapproval clouds her brow before she turns away in disgust.
Next, Mr. Handsome comes up and gives me a friendly hug. It's appropriate to hug in church, isn't it? His eyes show his admiration and approval as they sweep over me. I am gratified.
And then comes Humble Hannah, with her simple dress and hairstyle. She has a sweet smile on her face, but she looks disappointed as she greets me. Her modest appearance sends an arrow of conviction to my heart. Instantly, I harden my heart against conviction, telling myself how plain she is. She could be quite attractive if she'd follow my example.
Jennifer rushes by, a sweet little almost-ready-to-turn-teenager. She stops short when she sees me, and I almost blush at her obvious admiration. She catches herself, and then moves quickly on.
And then I encounter Brother Bob. Definite sorrow shows in his eyes when he sees me. He is kind and warm toward me, but his sad eyes disturb me.
But then, there are many others to impress, as I mince along, my earrings dangling. I bat my eyelashes and move my hips seductively as I walk. Oh, its so exciting to watch the reactions of the crowd. I sense admiration, acceptance and approval, and I also sense shock, scorn and disapproval. I tell myself coldly, these people have no right to judge me. They should just accept me as I am. They way I dress is none of their business. Just let me be me. And I march up and take my seat.
Meanwhile, Satan is having a heyday in church this morning. Little do I realize that I brought an entourage of demons with me when I came to church.
You see, I'm really just a puppet in Satan's hands. He planned this whole scenario, and invited me to be his pawn, and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I am playing my part well. Satan is quite pleased with me. Now his evil angels scatter to reinforce the personal demons that have been working on these church members all week.
At the door, John and Mary appeared to be unaffected by my arrival. I had no idea what a vicious attack the demons made on that couple. You see, John had been battling a temptation all week. A loose woman at his work was infatuated with him, and had been trying every trick in her book to seduce him. John wanted to be a Christian and a faithful husband. He had avoided this woman as best as he could. But the temptation, none the less, was tugging at his heart.
And lately, Mary had become engrossed in a project, and had been ignoring him. She'd been indifferent and aloof to his needs, and John was feeling rejected. When I smiled and winked at John at the door, something stirred inside him.
He looked over at modest Mary, and a bitter seed of resentment took root in his heart. How dare she ignore him, when such beautiful women found him attractive! Mary's simplicity disgusted him. That next week, John began an affair with the woman at work.
Mary's smile at the door seemed genuine to me, but inside she rankled with jealousy.
Here she was, trying to be a modest little Christian, she thought. But Mary's motives were all wrong. She really longed to look just like me, but she didn't dare. Her plain appearance was motivated by the fear of disapproval of the “saints.” So she burned with envy, and chaffed at the conflicting emotions churning inside her. And, during a shopping trip the next week she purchased some rather revealing clothing.
Sister Stern had her own struggles upon her encounter with me. She prided herself in her plainness and modesty. Her manifested disgust of me was genuine. Inside her heart, she judged me, and found me guilty as charged, and consigned me to damnation. She felt very self-righteous on her lofty, judgment seat, in her Pharisaical pride. The weed of criticism flourished and she poisoned all those around her with her stinging, bitter words regarding her opinion of me. The cancer was indeed spreading.
Mr. Handsome and I had hit it off. Some sparks had been generated during our greeting. It just seemed like harmless fun.
But I didn't realize what a weak man Mr. Handsome is. I had no idea of the impure fantasies that he would play out in his mind involving me. I was totally unaware of the pornographic materials that he was induced to purchase, just because of the seed of lust I nurtured in his heart. I really didn't intend for all that to happen.
And what about Humble Hannah? Why was she so disappointed in me? What did it matter to her how I looked?
I didn't realize what an incredible struggle Hannah had had with pride. She had once dressed like I now dress. But the Spirit of the Lord had gradually weaned Hannah away from the gaudy adornment of the world. She chose to dress the way she did out of a deep love for her Lord.
Hannah was keenly aware of how pride had been a stumbling block in her walk with Jesus, and now she is not willing for anything to stand in the way. It was a tremendous sacrifice for her to give up her adornment, but now the desire for adornment has disappeared. She has something infinitely better. She is enjoying an uninterrupted, intimate communion with her Lord. What then was the source of her sorrow at my appearance?
She was grieving for me! She knew what a stronghold pride had had in her life, and how it had distanced her from her Lord. She mourned for me, and for my pride. Little did I know of the tears of intercession she wept for me that night.
Little Jennifer, such a sweet, innocent child she was! I certainly didn't realize how much she idolized me. Indeed, her goal in life was to look just like me! She wanted nothing more than to erase her childish appearance and become “sophisticated.”
The next chance she got, she spent every dime she had on cheap make-up and gaudy jewelry. She soon lost her sweet, innocent look.
And Brother Bob, what was his problem? Men are supposed to be attracted to beauty. Why was he not affected like a normal man?
Satan's demons were quite angry that they were unable to arouse any lust in Bob's godly heart. Bob was moved with deep compassion for me. He looked at me as a hurting, confused lady, who knew not the love and acceptance of the Father. His righteous soul was moved with indignation at the men who he knew would try to take advantage of me. He was distressed for the young women who would mirror me. He was hurt that the glory of God was obscured in me. He was pained at the mockery I made of purity and holiness.
Bob was sad because Jesus was dishonored. He recognized I was cooperating with the demons to bring pain and sin into God's house this morning. Bob prayed for Satan to be defeated.
And these were just a few of the reactions. In reality, every individual in attendance at church that morning was affected by my appearance, to a greater or lesser degree.
When I went to church that morning, all I wanted was a little attention and admiration. I was quite oblivious to the intense spiritual battles I was instigating. Outwardly, there seemed to be no overt reactions. But little did I dream about the sinful emotions that were aroused by those who fell prey to temptation. The seeds of lust, idolization and pride sprouted in many hearts while envy, criticism, discontentment and animosity budded in others.
Even the true saints were affected with feelings of sorrow, compassion and concern. As Christ felt when He came face to face with sin, they also were disturbed by my display of pride, but experienced self-sacrificing and solicitous love toward me. Not one individual in the church was totally exempt from my influence. The spiritual forces waged a vicious warfare that day in church. Some battles were gained for the forces of darkness and some were gained for the forces of light.
But me, in my simple-minded ignorance, foolishly paraded down the aisles of that church, flaunting my extravagant beauty. My pride was gratified. I said to myself, “It's nobody else's business how I choose to dress.”