On Pride and Praise

I think I understand why it is that God calls us to give him “all the glory” and why he rejects the proud but gives grace to the humble. A person looking from the outside could see those things and conclude that God is insecure, and needs his back patted all day long. Something that also might get people thinking this is that the bible emphatically says, “I am a jealous God.” I remember when I first read that. I had just made a new, mature connection with God at the age of 15. Mature, meaning that I now understood that God’s intentions were to intimately be in relationship with me. He wasn’t some holy dude on an unseen hill.

Anyway, I was reading the bible in a teens translation. When I read “I am a Jealous God”, I jumped up and got a King James Version (what we Pentecostal Holiness kids grew up hearing/reading) to see if this was some weird translation! It wasn’t.

It said, “the Lord thy God is a jealous God.” But, but, but what about all that God is perfect, and stalwart and love stuff? Love can’t be jealous! Jealousy isn’t strong! It’s childish and crazy! So, is God childish and crazy? Does this mean that he wants to have a close relationship with me because he’s the kid on the playground that doesn’t like to share his toys?

No one wants to get close to that kid on the playground. Everyone wants to punch that kid in the face. And who wants a jealous, possessive lover? One who is always questioning your whereabouts, one who doesn’t trust you, accuses you of evil, beats you with negative words and fists, and then makes it feel like it’s your fault. What kind of love is that? It sure doesn’t sound perfect or holy or unconditional to me.

It took me a while to figure this all out. I had to figure out what was jealousy. Let’s think about this together. Jealousy is not envy. God is not envious. He cannot be. Everything already belongs to him. Envy is desiring something you don’t have; and getting emo and crazy about it.

Well, since the world was created by him, and according to at least one super-popular songwriter, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, what is there he could want to own? Nothing. Now, jealousy, on the other hand is possible for God. Jealousy deals with things you own.

When what you already own is being compromised or interfered with by another source, the feeling one can have is jealousy. Now, jealousy can be sprouted from different intentions. The jealousy I mentioned before negatively, sprouted from insecurity. That jealousy is never good. The jealousy God experiences is rooted in love. Check Corinthians 13.

It says love does not envy. It does not say it is not jealous. The problem is that we try and make jealousy and envy synonymous. It is not. Love can experience jealousy. The jealousy we have become accostomed to is the one where the root is a lack of trust, mixed in with keping records of wrong, disbelief, and becoming easily angered.

Check Corinthians 13 again. All of those things re clearly not traits of Love. Jealousy not sprung from love is all of those things. Now, Christians believe that God is love. If jealousy is springing up from God, it must be springing up from love.

So, what does jealousy sprung up from love look like? It looks like watching the person you love the most take a nose dive off of a mountain cliff, when you knew the way to a bridge.

It looks like watching the one you love most in the worst situations choose to stay there, when you have a way to safety.

It looks like a very broken heart crying out, “no, no,no! This is not how it should be. I have so much more for you.

It is hurt. It can even be frustrated, and angry. But get this. It’s not about the selfish interest of the bratty cosmic boy with the cool toys. No, it’s not about getting us so that his collection is full, or his ego is stroked. His jealousy exists because he loves us. He wants to see us protected. He is jealous for us, not envious of others who steal our attention. This jealousy wants the best for us.

With this understanding, we see that God is not prideful when he says, worship no other god before me. His desire is to protect us. He wants to pat our backs, not that we need to pat his.

So what about all the glory and honor and praise belongs to him, business?

You know what I realized about that? There are several benefits to giving God honor and praise. The first thing is when you realize that God is the supreme author of the world we know, I makes sense to give God props. In addition to that, God sees the dangers of pride. Pride will make a person fall flat on their face. Pride will close a mouth that needs to cry out for help, and open up a mouth that needs to be silent and listen.

Humility is learned. It has to be practiced. The best way to do so is to realize that we do nothing great without the strength given to us by God. This praise is a testiment to his Glory. Now, because we know that love is not proud, God does not have a pride issue. So, what does he do when we exalt him? He raises us up right back.

It works out great because we learn humility, and God exalts us. Now, we could just skip a step and exalt ourselves. But we wouldn’t learn humility that way. If we are full of pride, how can we opperate in love? If we cannot opperate in Love, we cannot opperate with God, for God is love.

It all points back to wanting the best for us. God wants that we be exalted by him. Who could exalt us better than God himself, anyway? In order to do that we must be as humble as he. David, the man that God said was after his heart, said this of God. “Your humility exalts me.”

When we worship the Living God, we may feel we give our all, but many times he continues to fill us in ways we never knew we could be filled.

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