The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Without God's love, we'd be nothing

 


The Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:3: “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

Charles Elliot, renowned Bible scholar, commented on this verse. Elliot said that “he deceives himself” is like a person has an hallucination and that person has convinced himself of the existence of something and it is not rooted in reality.

I did that once. I was under the illusion that I was the best, and I sure had persuaded myself. Let me explain.

When I was a teen, I went to church camp every summer. But one particular summer, I had an experience I will never forget.

On sendoff day we headed to the mountains on the church bus. Once there, we checked in our cabins, organized personal things and met for our cabin meeting by the flagpole. Among other things, our counselor announced tryouts for camp pianist. I knew that was for me.

I was excited and eager to exhibit my “talent” in piano. Confident that I would get the job, my pride pushed away all the modesty I should have had. Foremost in my teenage mind was that all my friends would be terribly impressed when I was chosen camp pianist.

I went to tryouts, played my favorite hymn and even added some expanded base chords. I added a little flip with my hands when I played the melody. I really impressed even myself.

Then the director chose a hymn at random from the hymnal and I performed with a certain spiritual intensity evidenced by pauses, timing and shoulder movements. I strolled out of the open-air tabernacle with a feeling of pride and accomplishment and generally the thought: “Judy you are so lucky to be you!”

That night we sat in the church service and I waited for the announcement of camp pianist. I tried my best to look natural so I could change to a surprised and overwhelmed look when the director called my name.

The announcement was made. It was not me. Another girl had been chosen.

I was disgusted and my ego was hurting. To make it worse, she played for the night service. I couldn’t wait until it was over so I could go back to my cabin.

I left after the closing prayer and started my lonely walk up the dimly lit footpath to my cabin.

Suddenly I heard a voice call to me.

“Judy, wait up,” it said. “Wait for me.”

I turned around and it was the girl who had been chosen pianist.

“Judy,” she said gasping for breath, “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to catch you. I ran all the way. You play so well, so much better than I do. But I really am happy that they chose me.”

Then she reached out to pat my arm. As she touched me there in the dim mountain moonlight, I noticed that her two middle fingers on her right hand were missing. A feeling of guilt just overwhelmed me.

“Oh ... thanks,” I said. “But you’re great with the piano and I really think you should have had the job.”

I thought I was going to die right there on the trail with the dead pine needles and ancient rocks.

She left. I stood there for a minute and looked up at the million stars above me. I knew, even in my immature teenage mind, that I had been wrong — I had really thought I was something and had acted that way.

As an adult, and I hope more mature, I now contend that pride in the Christian life is the greatest detriment to the cause of Christ. Pride does not allow one to apologize.

Pride displays itself just by a certain look. Pride says, “I am better than you.”

Pride hurts other people’s feelings under the pretense, “Well I just tell it like it is.” Pride is quick to point out another’s faults but does not allow one to see their own shortcomings.

Pride devalues another’s opinion, suffocates the capacity for mercy and compassion and criticizes relentlessly.

No matter what talents we have, we cannot be used of God if we think our service is all on our own merit. If it weren’t for a heavenly Father that loves us unconditionally, we all would be nothing.

Judy Brandon writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at: cbrandon@plateautel.net

 

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