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"I" Problems

by Joyce Meyer - posted October 20, 2014

Now Miriam and Aaron talked against Moses [their brother] because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, Has the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Has he not spoken also by us?
—Numbers 12:1-2

Moses' sister, Miriam, and his brother, Aaron, complained to God about the Ethiopian woman their brother had married during his forty years of exile. But that was not the real issue. The real problem was revealed when they asked, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Has he not spoken also by us?"

That's the big "I" problem-also known as the issue of pride. That's one way Satan gets into our lives, divides us, confuses us, and causes us to fight among ourselves. In the incident cited above, the issue wasn't whether God spoke through them or only through Moses. It was their way of calling attention to themselves and yearning for recognition. But their plan backfired on them. If you read the entire account, you will find that God punished Miriam with leprosy and she had to stay outside the camp for a week.

There's another interesting note: She held them back from moving forward. "So Miriam was shut up without the camp for seven days, and the people did not journey on until Miriam was brought in again" (v. 15).

What we need to recognize about pride-one of Satan's most powerful tools-is that while it may actually attack only one or two of us, it affects everyone. When someone stands up and says, "I am special," the unspoken message is: "But you-you're not special like me." That's when jealousies and anger erupt-and the devil is the only one who is happy.

Here's another example. A few months ago, I saw a brief review of a college football game on the evening news. The running back stood just over the goal line, jumping up and down and screaming, "I'm the best! I'm the best!"

I'm sure he was excited because he had won the game. Or had he? What he didn't seem to grasp was that he had only carried the ball over the line, scoring the winning points. His teammates, however, had thrown him the ball and blocked other players from tackling him. His statement would have been more accurate had he said, "We're the best!"

This illustrates a dangerous attitude. Much of the time, we are only too eager to take all the credit. Too many people act as if they are solely responsible for their gifts and abilities (see 1 Corinthians 4:7). What they-and all of us-need to realize and focus on is that God alone gives us all of the talents, abilities, and gifts that we need to succeed in life. He is the giver we are just the recipients.

Whenever we excel in any area, it is because God has equipped us with the necessary abilities. God expects us to utilize our gifts and become better at the things we do, but we must never forget that He is the one who gives the talent. If we're high-minded or think more highly of ourselves than we should, we tend to look down on others. This is the sin of pride, and no one appreciates it. We all back away from proud people because they not only elevate themselves, but they arouse negative feelings in the rest of us, especially if we have any issues of insecurity or inferiority.

To win over the big "I" problem, we must remind ourselves of this simple fact: Everything we are and everything we have comes as a gift from God. If we stay focused on that fact, pride will find no place in our hearts.

Patient and loving God, forgive me when I've taken credit for my talents and my abilities. Help me now and every day to thank You for the gifts and abilities that You have so generously placed in me. I ask this in the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.