The Opposite Side of Pride (or How to Accept a Compliment)

After you admit your fault, rebuild the fence, and make appropriate amends, then move forward. There are certain debts that you cannot pay without the ability to go back in time and choose different actions. Any attempt to earn back your reputation and good name is only to serve a shrouded sense of personal pride. I’m specifically talking about people who run the risk of tying themselves down to rigorous religion, becoming more concerned with rules and regulations as a means to outwardly prove that the insides have changed. You cannot earn a gold heart. You cannot perform to become. When the inside has changed, the outside has remnants. Refuse to work outward-in. Commit to an inward-out approach and keep it personal. Pride is the messenger of the soul who refuses to accept the free gift of grace. People who have it backward end up becoming moral police and imposing judgment on everyone else. It’s a clever way of evading examination when you are pointing out the failures of others. On the other side of that, a heartbreaking way to avoid the prospect of people pointing out your flaws is to point them out for them. Stop dancing on the surface. It’s way too capricious to trust. Read more:

Pride is ugly. It's pretty on the outside, because you're an awesome performer and constantly over-involved to maintain your zealous facade. But inside grows dark and twisted as you keep your sins under wraps and the skeletons in your closet. There's a flip side, too - an even more "Christian" way to be proud. Humility.

It recently came to my attention that I am unable to accept compliments. If all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Is. 64:6), I figured any good thing that DID manage to come out of me either a) worth nothing because it is filthy rags compared to God's glory, or b) done only with God's strength girding me. My reaction to compliments either shooed them away like a annoying gnat or deflected with that great Christian catch-all, "God helped me" or "That's just one of the gifts God gave me and He helped me through".

That's performance based Christianity - both blatant, self-inflated pride, and the type of humility-pride that makes every compliment sit like a stone in your belly.

But what if the filthy rags part applies to pride itself? The focus of the verse is on me, not God. What if we quit performing and only did what we're good at, or maybe just sit in the pew and learn every Sunday? Do you have to belong to a "small group" to be a "good Christian"? Dress a certain way, raise your kids a certain way, talk a certain way, interact with your spouse in a certain way? These are often arbitrary aspects of the culture of your church, and may or may not be derived from the Bible itself.

I examine my heart, and it is abundantly clear to me, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, that I have one pile of  the Isaiah 64:6 works - the ones I try to do without God - and a second pile of works that will transform into gold, silver and precious stones one day when He takes me up into glory.

Our friends are often mirrors that reflect our image back to us. You know, the image God made us in, after His own image? That's what a compliment is - a mirror that tells you that you did a good job. If you were working for Christ and He was flowing through, you may be tempted to say "I could only do that through the grace of God". But that's not the whole picture - you're ignoring something in the mirror. God chose you for that particular task, gifted you for it, and worked through you to accomplish it. He could have picked someone else...but He didn't. He picked you, prepared you, and used you.

The appropriate heart response is "thank you, God, for helping me with that. It was really fun working with you on that one." And when someone else recognizes it and compliments you for it, let it soak in. Look into the mirror of their compliment and receive it. It's okay to say thank you instead of deflecting it. It's also okay to give glory to God, both by recognizing your own image and the value God imbued in you, and saying something about how He gifted you or enabled you.

It's also important to realize that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks into our hearts (I Samuel 16:7). If you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you will know which works were done for God's glory and which ones were done to elevate oneself within religion or church culture.
Examine yourself, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may do no wrong-not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right... ~II Corinthians 13:5-7, emphasis mine