Assuming That You’re Good At It
I played basketball for six years in school, and after a few years of playing a sport it’s easy to start assuming that you’re good at it. My two years of junior high playing time drastically challenged my skills and grew inside me a desire to be better. I’ll be honest. Starting out, I wasn’t very good. But the more our coach instructed me, taught me, and pushed me to develop my abilities, the more I began to see that hard work and practice could mold me into a decent athlete. But as my skills developed, something else also began to take shape. Pride surfaced, making me believe that I was better at basketball than reality proved.
The three pointer became my friend, and so I honed my talent. I took one three after another my eighth grade year, leaving many games in a spirit of triumph. But the problem with my success was that as a team we averaged on the losing side, greatly. And then, high school ball hit me like a stinky gym sock. I immediately experienced another side of basketball, one that many people don’t pay much attention to. I was benched. I went from feeling like a star player to handing out water during timeout. And to be honest, it made me feel somewhat like a failure. Eventually though, after a few years of practice I found myself once again feeling like I was good at basketball. You may think that I’m writing about hard work or perseverance, but I’m not. Perseverance is great, and Paul encourages us to persevere, but what I’m talking about is something that we hold closer to our hearts.
I’m talking about pride. I mean that feeling of accomplishment that you get when you think you’re good at something, and when you think that it’s because of your talent or ability that you are where you are. When I graduated high school, I felt like I was great at basketball. But then I went on to college and got a chance to shoot around with some guys who played on the university team, and I experienced the same feeling again that I had experienced moving up from junior high. My greatest efforts did not even come close to their idle practice. Despite my confidence in my skills, I fell short.
Jesus Did Everything
Many times in life, we can arrive at a place in our Christian walk where we think we’ve gotten good at it. We can begin to believe that we really are a good person and that we have somehow managed to get where we are due to our hard work, determination, talent, or sacrifices. But what always happens is that as soon as we begin to wave our own flag, failure comes along and we get put back in our place. And then it’s natural to doubt our genuineness or our devotion to God, but when we do this we forget something that we should have been focusing our attentions on all along. We didn’t get where we are due to our strengths; Jesus saved us in our weakness. We didn’t grow into a “good person” because we tried really hard; Jesus changed us from the inside out. We didn’t do anything on our own; Jesus did everything.
Walking In His Strength
We did not even take the first step ourselves, so why do we think we can continue to walk alone? It’s pride that keeps us from handing it over to God. But pride only lasts for a time. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Once we reach the point where our abilities fall short, we let ourselves sink into a state of destruction. We are going to fall short when we trust in ourselves. It’s just going to happen. But Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, so that pride might be beaten, and so that no matter how many times we fail, we still gain the victory through Him. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” The best way to get back up is to kneel down. God gave us the perfect example of humility through the life of His Son Jesus. Now, we are able to walk in His strength when we humble ourselves and trust Him that He has already done it and that He will continue to work and live in us.