How often do we let our pride get in the way of something God wants to do for us or with us?
This almost happened to Naaman, commander of the army of Aram in the Old Testament. He had leprosy. He heard from a young girl from Israel, about the prophet, Elisha, and how he could cure Naaman’s leprosy. After receiving a letter of introduction from his king and taking ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold, he set off to see Elisha.
Instead of coming out to greet him and praying over him, Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman telling him to “go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan.” “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’” (2 Kings 5:11)
Naaman’s pride was wounded. He was commander of the army of Aram and had a letter of introduction from his king. He had gold and silver for an offering and a retinue with chariots. He expected Elisha to personally pray over him. He certainly wasn’t expecting to hear from a mere messenger and be asked to do something as silly as washing himself seven times in the Jordan River.
Fortunately for Naaman, his servants prevailed upon him to do as Elisha’s messenger instructed, “And his flesh was restored and became clean like that of young boy.”
Too often we let our pride resist the help God sends our way through others: in assisting us in some task or in praying with us for some need or healing; in helping us to forgive someone who has offended us instead of holding onto resentment. Here is a story of the latter example.
Jim headed up a software development team for IBM comprised of approximately 75 employees and a few subcontractors on a Homeland Security contract. The job and working environment involved many challenges and Jim was working to transform the work of the team to meet the goals of the contract.
At one point Jim called a subcontractor of long experience to follow up on a critical task he had been asked to perform. When the subcontractor answered his cell phone, he mistook Jim for another member of the team and he began to describe how much he disliked Jim, insulting both him and his work. Because of a bad cell connection, Jim was unable to get the person’s attention and finally decided to just hang up.
Later the subcontractor realized he had been talking to Jim and became quite concerned, asking Jim’s colleagues what he should do. When he met with Jim the following day and before he had a chance to say anything, Jim put out his hand and said, “I forgive you. The contractor apologized profusely and was glad Jim did not take action against his behavior. Jim told him that he had no hard feelings and hoped that he would see Jim’s reaction as a catalyst for improving their working relationship and getting the job done.
In contrast to Naaman, Jim did not let his pride give way to anger and resentment, but instead offered his forgiveness, and his team went on to successfully complete the work of the contract. Jim was following the example of Jesus. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” (Mt. 11:29)