After a high school career where I was a 4-year starter on varsity, I entered college with a high expectation. I played all fall to prove that I worked harder and played better than the two sophomore catchers in front of me. I thought that was clear. I was wounded and upset when coach informed me that I was a role player and not a starter.
I didn’t understand. I did everything they asked me to so that I could exalt my standing on the team. What happened?
James 4:2-3 says,”2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
I believed the lie that I had told myself that I wanted what was best for the team more than what was best for me. What I really wanted was my success to impact the success of the team. I asked wrongly. What wounded me most was that I desired and coveted a role that my authority didn’t give me base on my performance (where’s the gospel in that?). Pride is the exaltation of yourself and my pride was hurt.
James 4:6-8 goes on to say, “Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
You know what’s harder than giving 100% on the field and in the weight room? Submitting yourself to authority and purifying your hearts. You can’t submit yourself to the authority of God without submitting to the authorities that God has placed you under. By submitting myself to both God and to my coach two things happened. First, I was in position to resist the lies that I had believed (lets not forget who is the author of lies). Second, I became usable for both God and coach when I wasn’t exalting myself, creating my own value based on my evaluation of myself, and protecting what I believed was mine. I laid those down before my authorities so that I could be usable where they wanted me instead of where I wanted me. And low and behold, I had success there.
Finally, James 4:10 says, “10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
That verse looks good on a bumper sticker or a coffee cup. But that verse in action only comes in messy times of trial and hurt. Times when things don’t go the way we had planned them. Embrace the opportunities to humble yourself before the Lord…and he will exalt you.