Since today is Maundy Thursday, I would like to draw our attention toward the prune-worthy branches of pride or arrogance.
Why those themes? Because it’s no secret that one of the primary themes of John 13:1-17 is humility (link)
Conveniently, Merriam-Webster’s primary definition of humility aligns perfectly with our pruning devotionals. They define it as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” In other words, humility can be seen as the “pruning of” pride or arrogance.
Often, when we read of the Messiah’s humility in passages like John 13, we desire the same humility, especially since it’s a direct instruction from Jesus: “you also should wash one another’s feet.”
In the midst our desire for humility, I want to remind us of a truth from John 15—a truth that has been at the heart of these devotionals: If we want to embody a certain character trait that is part of God’s design, we don’t simply ask God to “add” that character trait to our current way of being. Instead, some growth only occurs through subtraction—i.e., we may need God to prune some branches that are going to create space for the desired trait to flourish and bear fruit.
For instance, if we want to have a humility that resembles that of Christ Jesus, then we may first need to have our pride or arrogance stripped away.
Paul conveys this very concept immediately after he encourages the Christians in Rome to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. He writes, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Before they think about themselves with a “sober judgment” akin to humility, they first strip off the ways in which they think of themselves “more highly” than they ought.
We, too, need to be pruned of pride and arrogance in order to experience humility. Of course, the physical act of washing another person’s feet forces the matter upon us. We can’t engage that act of humility without having our pride confronted. Thankfully, when it is confronted, we find freedom. We can experience great joy when we are free from the branches of pride and arrogance.
TODAY’s REFLECTION & ACTION: How about you? How are you doing with humility? As you seek it, are you simply asking God to add it to your existing set of character traits? Or does the Vine-grower first haver permission to prune your pride? Look for opportunities to “wash another’s feet” today. As you do, notice what God does with your pride.