In walking with people bogged down by sin, I have noticed a consistent trend: an independence from God. This observation is further enforced in Scripture. Genesis 3:1-24, Romans 1:1-32, John 15:1-27 and countless other texts point toward the realities that exist when man operates outside of God. To sum this behavior up in one word, you could call it “pride,” but another factor at work is weakness.
Mankind is overwhelmed by weakness. In the beginning, when God creates Adam and Eve in a perfect, sinless Eden, He creates them with need for His provision (Gen. 1:28; 2:16-17). Before sin enters the world, there is a need within mankind – there is a weakness.
Neediness in and of itself is not sinful, but it is where neediness is directed or terminates that creates problems. In Genesis 1:1-31 and 2:1-25, God supplies everything that mankind needs, and there is never any worship tied to creation. God creates and says that it is good, and man responds to Him with praise. There is a beautiful dependence of mankind upon God.
Sin enters the world in Genesis 3:1-24, and this dependence upon God – and God alone – becomes a dependence on creation. In Romans 1:1-32, Paul describes this shift as the preferring of creation over the Creator. Pride is most often seen when this dependence or neediness is unacknowledged and hidden. People frame their lives to make themselves look strong and calm when, in reality, they are weak and burdened. The beautiful picture of Adam and Eve resting perfectly in the provision of the Lord is exchanged for a pseudo provision aligned with whatever hides our weaknesses.
An incredible opportunity is missed in this vulnerable state. The Psalmist says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-8). He understands his weak and compromised condition and that provision is found in God alone.
If this is the humble response, then how would our pride have us respond in moments of weakness? One response is to address the weakness in our own strength and bolster our vulnerabilities, but this response only increases pride in the heart. A second response is to sit in our weakness as a victim and justify doing so because of how we have been wronged. This response is equally prideful and steeped in self-pity.
However, the gospel frees us up, in our weakness and brokenness, to find rest and refuge. In our weakness, He is strong. There is always an opportunity in weakness, and that opportunity is to press in and look to the mountain – Christ – where our help comes from.