As it is my habit to wake early and pray and absorb my devotion, when on a recent unsuspecting morning I was reading with an intent to understand a certain passage on how God's light reveals truth, a particular thought entered my mind. For the moment in which it came, a sense of pride came over me as if I were to be patted on the back for being a good Christian, one to whom righteousness had been imputed for something I had done or become. It was as though I had made a good mark on an exam and felt the urge to show my parents what I had done. The feeling I had was one of satisfaction about my own good efforts and self-image.
Now anyone who attempts to live within the Christian faith knows pride in oneself, if taken with any belief it is true and perpetuated, is the father of an excess of sins. The sense I felt was quickly recognized and I asked God to forgive me. But do you see what happened in this instant? For the time it took to think and feel this thought, along with it came this idea I had been responsible for the reason I should be commended. I had attained the prize and should be congratulated. Evident to me immediately, my lapse forgot what God had wanted to reveal to me through the passage. In fact, what God did reveal to me was that I had yet a ways to go in understanding how righteousness works, that it was he who wished to take me there. He wanted me to know I could not in any way do the work that belonged to him.
Another revelation occurred to me in the aftermath. The sin I committed did not come from an outside source. No one suggested to me the thought that entered my mind. No one appealed to any inclination within me I should think anything prideful about myself. This thought had welled within me alone, unannounced, surprising me by its appearance.
In the minutes before this, I had earnestly prayed for God to reveal to me my sin so he may yet purify me for his service. And this is exactly what he did. Choosing the means by which God answers a prayer is not in our hand. In the mysterious way God works, He made me aware pride remained in me and I realized there could be other sins remaining of which I am not aware.
Buoyed by God's revelation, I gave thanks and I am compelled to turn my attention as they say, to get on with it, toward what our Lord calls the "weightier matters of justice and mercy." And isn't this the whole of the Gospel and the history of God's message to his people, to get on with matters more important than what our self-willed efforts may relish?
It is good to keep our relationship with God in the right order. Is it not?