You Cannot Compete with Ego
A friend was telling me about a friend of hers that was causing some difficulty in their friendship. From her description of this person, the problem was egotism. The person thought quite highly of himself or herself. I advised her, “You cannot win against ego.”
The word “ego” is not found in the KJV or the NKJV. But some synonyms are found. In Exodus 8:15 it is said, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.” It appears that ego played a part in this (Ex. 10:3). In the end, the only way that Pharaoh’s ego could be excised was for him to die.
God described the Jews in these words, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!” (Ex. 32:9.) God’s description of Isreal’s character was accurate. After crossing the Red Sea and seeing the end of Pharaoh and his army, Israel falsely accused Moses [and God] of leading them into the wilderness to die of hunger and thirst (Ex. 16:2, 3; 17:3). God provided for them manna and water from the rock to satisfy their complaints. But with this, they were not satisfied. They railed against God and Moses (Num. 21:5).
The ego of Israel hit a high point in Numbers 13-14 when God told Israel to go in and possess the land that He had given to them. They choose to follow their own wisdom and refused to go. Because of their refusal, God declared that none of those “who rejected Me [God]” would see the promised land. The cure for ego can be extreme.
The one and only cure for egotism is humility. To teach king Nebuchadneszzer humility, God sent him into the field to eat grass and live as a bovine for “seven years.” (The amount of time referred to by “seven years” is unclear, but it was long enough for his hair to grow long and his nails to grow like an eagle’s claws.) This is found in Daniel 4:28-37. Literally, as the king was bragging upon his own power, honor, and majesty, Daniel’s prophecy came true. When the time in the field was finished, the king was restored to his former state. But it was long enough to teach the king and others that it is God who rules over the kingdom of men.
I was asked once, “How do you learn humility?” In some ways, it may be similar to learning to overcome an addiction.
1st: Absolute honesty with yourself. Recognize your condition (Lk. 15:17). Pride, egotism, and self-exaltation will lead to destruction (Pro. 16:18; 18:12; Lk. 18:14).
2nd: Total commitment to overcoming (Heb. 11:24-25).
3rd: Develop a plan. A) Practice humbling yourself in God’s sight (Jam. 4:10-12).
B) Practice esteeming others better than yourself (Phil. 2:3).
4th: Ask an honest, humble Christian for help (Jam. 5:16).
5th: Pray, pray, pray daily for God to teach you humility.
God instructs Christians, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3).
Rest assured that learning humility yourself, though it may be difficult, will be much easier than receiving practical lessons in humility from God. “…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk. 18:14b).