God’s Grace vs. Jim’s Pride
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” – Romans 5:20
I really despise job performance evaluations. I dread knowing they are coming, for inevitably the person doing the review will find it necessary to point out my weaknesses, errors, mistakes and foibles. And, if they are in a good mood, mention a few of my strengths. Hey, I’m well aware of my shortcomings. I don’t need a yearly reminder by someone who feels they have the privilege to criticize me simply because they sign my paycheck.
Okay, now you know my bad attitude regarding evaluations.
I was talking to God about my attitude the other morning while walking on a treadmill, and somehow it occurred to me that there was a connection between grace, forgiveness, sin and pride. This is how I think it works.
Through every fault of my own, sometimes I find I am in need of another person’s grace and forgiveness (yes, even in a job performance evaluation). Although I am grateful for their kindness and grace, I feel their grace puts me in an awkward position. I couldn’t quite figure it out until I made the connection between forgiveness for something I’ve done wrong, the humility to accept the grace of the person who offers such forgiveness, and my need for forgiveness. The connection is pride.
When I need someone’s gracious forgiveness, such forgiveness only comes after I’ve been humbled through my own sin. Paul said, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). I’m discovering that my difficulty is not so much with grace, but with pride. In order to receive grace and forgiveness, I have to admit I’ve made a mistake or sinned, and that is a blow to my pride. And pride is nothing more than an ubiquitous and useless sensation that wants to be free of error. Furthermore, the desire to be free from error means only one thing: I want to be GOD!
I also see a particular order to this sequence. First, I sin, and in humility, I seek the grace and forgiveness of the one I’ve offended. But in order to obtain this forgiveness, I have to let go of the idol of perfection. Once again, this brings me back around to pride.
God’s grace is available to all but the proud, for only the proud in heart will not seek the loving forgiveness of God and neighbor. Accepting God’s grace means admitting my sin, my dependence on others, my inability to obtain perfection on my own and my need for God. As I see it, it is God’s grace doing battle with Jim’s pride. Which one will win? To be honest, it depends entirely and solely on me. God has already done His part – now it is time to do mine.
I have one final thought. The trouble I often have with forgiveness is it keeps reminding me of my past failures. Marshall Goldsmith, in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, said, “Forgiveness means letting go of the hope for a better past.” It is time I stop focusing on my past and start looking forward to a better future – a future where God’s grace reigns and Jim’s pride is nowhere to be seen.