As we go through life we experience peaks and valleys. First comes a peak, and then comes a valley. It’s a rhythm that we cannot escape. One of the things that defines and forms our character is what happens to us in the valley. Integrity, perseverance, and grit are deepened as we work to apply rigor to get out.
However, if we refuse to limit ourselves to the first few layers of what happens inside of us in the valley and choose to take the deep dive, we’ll find that there are heart-level issues alive and well. We call them FLAP – Fear, Lust, Anger, and Pride.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. We deal with all sorts of anxiety and fears, which range from fear of failure or disappointment to fears of rejection and loss.
We all have a human propensity to be afraid and it started with the first man, Adam. When God finds him in the garden after he sins, the first thing Adam says is, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid,” (Gen 3:10). Fear comes by hearing and believing in the echoes of worldly promises. It is a product of something unholy, brings calamity and destruction, and results in stress, torment, despair, and anxiety.
Even though fear is normal, we weren’t meant to live in fear. It’s no coincidence that the Bible uses the phrase “fear not” 74 times. In fact, Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
In order to battle our fears in the valley, we must have deep, unmovable faith. Faith comes from hearing and believing in God’s Word, is produced by the Holy Spirit, it brings forth the promises of God. A simple Google search will give you the list of these promises. Put them around you – at your workspace, on your bathroom mirror, or in your car. When you do, say them out loud. It will result in wholeness and peace as you focus on letting God’s promises fight the battle for you believing that what He says is true.
Lust is a psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, experience, or circumstance fulfilling an emotion. Life is full of things to lust over like sex, money, power, or even food. Lusts are not needs. I don’t lust oxygen or lust my heart to beat, but I need those things to happen or I die.
We tend to get confused when we give in to the lust for something and lose control while forgetting its true purpose. Lust in indulgent and is solely focused on feeding the person doing the lusting, while taking advantage of the person or thing being lusted over. It manipulates for the purpose of meeting one’s own needs even at the sacrifice of others.
Lust doesn’t come from God. “For everything in the world, lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16).
Giving breaks the death grip of lust, and the best way to fight lust is when we give love. Focusing on love shifts our desire from meeting our needs to meeting the needs of others. As Bob Goff says in his book Everybody Always, “Loving people means caring without an agenda.” When we try to love with a list of things we’re trying to accomplish, it takes a new form of lust. We must love to give and give to love.
Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Even reading that definition is annoying! It flows deep within our bones. But as it is with most things, anger is no different – there’s something deep down below that is causing the anger. It takes a patient person to dig and unearth its root cause.
People who are angry are really saying, “You owe me! I’ve been hurt. Something has been taken from me, and I’m in payback mode. If you get close to me, I will expect you to pay me back for what other people have taken.” Angry people overreact to unmet expectations and cannot give grace. They tend to punish failure and not coach people.
How do you combat anger? Good question. The first step is to figure out exactly what’s been taken from you. Once you do, your next step is one word – forgive. The people around you can’t grow without failing and you can’t grow unless you’re willing to forgive. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
Tom Watson, Sr., founder of IBM, once sat down with a junior executive who had just lost IBM $10mm in a very risky venture considered by company insiders. When Watson found out, he called him into his office. Upon entering, the young man blurted out, “I guess you’re going to want my resignation!” Watson responded,
“You can’t be serious. We just spent $10mm educating you! You’re forgiven.”
Pride is an unduly high opinion of oneself, a domineering spirit of exaggerated self-esteem and conceit, and a puffed up and inflated ego. Another word that comes to mind is haughty, but that definition is a bit different. It is a prideful attitude, disregard, and lack of respect for others. It is conceited, arrogant, a superior attitude, and an egotistical spirit. The difference is that pride is a false sense of one’s own excellence while being haughty puts others beneath you. The bottom line is that both are sinful attitudes, and both guarantee you will experience a fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
It is easy to spot a proud person. They like to talk, especially about themselves or their opinions. They do not serve others voluntarily, because` it is beneath them, and they are too preoccupied with their own things. They reject advice or warnings. A proud person presumes on people, is disrespectful of authority, and brags about breaking laws. They always have an excuse for their bad actions, instead of a humble apology. The problems in their life are always someone else’s fault. They refuse to seek help. Do any of these ring a bell?
Humility is the opposite of pride. It is not thinking or saying you are humble. Instead it is obeying God and serving others without keeping score. It is not how you look or walk; it is exalting God and others instead of yourself.
How can you increase your humility? It’s not by putting yourself down all the time. Instead, pray and ask God to help you get there. He wants you to grow in humility and lose your pride. The second thing is celebrating others. Andy Stanley said, “Go out of your way to celebrate publicly the things that threaten you privately.” Find ways to encourage and prop people up because pride provokes God to judgement, but humility brings His blessing.
I hope these four areas resonate and that you were able to grab hold of a few things you can do right now to take action against your FLAP!