Tag Archives: pride

July 15: Pass or Fail

Isaiah 37:14-38:22, 39:1-8; 2 Kings 20:1-18; 2 Chronicles 32:24-31

When I was in college I had the opportunity to “audit” a class or two. I was permitted to attend a class that wasn’t required for my major.  I could attend the lectures, do the work and take the tests, but my grade would be either pass or fail instead of the usual letter grade or percentage like in my other classes. It gave me the opportunity to learn a topic of interest without the pressure of making a grade for my GPA.

I think we are living life on a pass/fail basis. Not that we are simply auditing life. In fact, the result of our lives has much more significant outcomes than a GPA. Because in the end, we will either go to heaven or hell. Pass or fail.

During the course of our lives, we face times of testing. Sometimes we go through difficulties in life, and come out on the other side stronger in our faith, our relationship with the Lord more real than ever. We pass that difficult test, so to speak, and realize we really do have faith in God. Like Job, in all these things we do not sin. Actually, the tests involving hard times, illness, grief can be the easiest tests to pass because we can recognize the enemy, and face it head-on with God by our side.

But we’ve got to understand that hard times are not Satan’s only weapon against us. It’s not the only test he throws our way. Often that snake will revert back to his Garden of Eden tactics: pride, flattery, friendship.

Read what went down between Hezekiah and Merodach-Baladan the son of Babylonian king Baladan. This enemy sent men to Hezekiah with presents and good wishes. Isaiah says Hezekiah gladly received the enemy, gave them the grand tour of the palace and storehouses and sent them on their way. The enemy had tapped into Hezekiah’s pride, and the king couldn’t wait to show off.

Hezekiah had passed the war and illness tests. But he miserably failed the test of pride. Let’s remember that it’s Satan’s sole mission to trip you up. He’s throwing darts and trick questions your way, hoping you will fail to be true to God. And often, his methodology is flattery, success, and pride.

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy says:

Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

I think Paul and Isaiah would both tell us to arm ourselves with the Word, ground ourselves in the Truth of Scripture, put on the whole armor of God so that when, not if, Satan throws a pop-quiz at us, we will be ready.

Then look what else Paul tells Timothy: watch out for the flattery, the pride. Those things will lead to ungodliness, which is a fail.

You will be tested today. Will you pass, or fail?

 

June 1; Who Are You?

Proverbs 16-18

Solomon gives us a chance to do a spiritual exploratory surgery on ourselves. When you read these Proverbs, when you make each of them about you – what do you find? Who are you?

Proverbs 16 has us looking at our hearts, our motives, and attitudes. Are we committed to God, humble, loving and faithful, kind, honest, wise and discerning? Is what is in our hearts pure, so that what comes out of our mouths, and through our actions also pure?

Chapter 17 takes a closer look at our speech. Do we say wicked things? Do we lie, mock, gloat? Are we arrogant, gossips, quarreling people, perverse? Solomon says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Have we learned that truth for ourselves?

Proverbs 18 explores humility. Solomon calls prideful people unfriendly, fools, wicked, foolish. “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

God, through Solomon, tells that what is in our hearts is revealed by what we say and do. If I am prideful, is my heart pure? If I use vulgar language, or gossip, is my heart pure? If there is any wicked way in me, can my heart be pure?

I’ve had several surgeries in my lifetime, and I know it’s not pleasant. It hurts. But sometimes you just have to find what is making you unhealthy, and cut it out.

I hope you’ll do some spiritual exploratory surgery today. Who are you?

 

April 14; All That

I Chronicles 9:35-44, 5:7-10, 18-22; I Samuel 15-16

Do you remember where Saul was the day Samuel came to anoint him King of Israel? They found him hiding behind some crates. Doesn’t exactly exude confidence, does it? But that reluctant king was blessed by God, and became a mighty warrior, a leader who inspired loyalty. Under his leadership, Israel enjoyed many victories in battle, and Saul’s army was feared among the nations.

Saul didn’t remain a reluctant hero. The change that came over him is noteworthy. He was no longer a trembling young man hiding from responsibility. He was king! In fact, he was so pleased with himself as king, “he built a monument in his own honor.” You can’t make this stuff up.

But Saul’s monument was just a symptom of what was really wrong. Saul had begun to believe he was “all that.” He thought he could skirt around God’s demands, and God would be ok with it. After all, he was King Saul. And everybody loved him.

Did Saul believe Satan’s original lie in the garden when the serpent said, “You will be like God?” Could Saul really have put himself on equal footing with God? It would appear so. And we will read how that turns out for Saul.

Let this be a warning to all of us. Sometimes our times of great blessing also brings the times of greatest temptation. Sometimes when we are “blessed” by God we might expect blessings, think we deserve blessings, flaunt our blessings. The temptation is there to think we don’t need God when things are going well. And maybe we begin to believe that we are “all that,” too, when people remind us how awesome our lives are, and how great we are.

Dear one, we need God in every and all situations. We need to obey God, humble ourselves before God, empty ourselves of our selves. The truth of the matter is, no matter how rosy your life is right now, you aren’t – none of us are – “all that.”

But God is.

James; Humility

Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, was born in a stable, then laid in a feeding trough. The King of Kings didn’t start his life on planet Earth in a palace. His beginnings were nothing to brag about.

James talks to us about being humble. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (4:6b) “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord…” (4:10a)

As I think about Christmas 2018, it occurs to me that if Jesus could humble Himself, who am I to stand tall? Who am I to build myself up, to brag, or strive for a sense of self-worth? Everything good in my life comes from God, not by my own effort. And if I’m honest, I am nothing compared to Him.

I think that reality trips some people up today, when society tells us to believe in ourselves, to nurture self-esteem, to celebrate our “selves.” But the truth is, when we humble ourselves, when we empty ourselves and submit to God, “He will exalt (us).” (4:10b)

Jesus’ humble birth set the standard by which He lived. It’s the standard by which I want to live my life as well.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to Earth the way You did. You gave up everything to be born that day. You submitted to the Father 100%. So when You tell us to humble ourselves, you aren’t asking us to do anything You didn’t do Yourself first. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s lie that tells us to exalt ourselves. May we humble ourselves, and let you do the exalting. Help us to trust You with our “selves.”

Luke 8-10; A Subtle, Yet Significant Difference

Jesus sent out seventy-two missionaries into “every town and place where he was about to go.” (10:1) He gave them this message: “The Kingdom of God is near you.”

Plus, Jesus gave these missionaries power to heal the sick and cast out demons. These seventy-two came back on a mountain-top, filled with joy and excitement as they shared how God had blessed their ministries.

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” How awesome to have been a part of God’s work in those cities.

But Jesus said something to them that struck me this morning. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven… do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

What caused Satan to fall from heaven? Pride.

And Jesus said, in essence, to the seventy-two, “Wait a minute. Those demons didn’t submit to you. They submitted to me. Don’t allow what I do through you cause you to be prideful. Pride is what sent Satan to hell. If you rejoice in anything, rejoice in the fact your sins – which are many – are forgiven.”

There is a subtle difference between saying, “God used ME,” and “GOD used me.” You may say, “but I am humbled God used ME.” But that sounds like what you are really saying is that you are proud of your humility.

Through this Scripture today, God has prompted me to look at my own attitude toward service. As I write this I started to list the ministries I am involved in to make a point. But all of a sudden it turned into a subtle “Look at me.” “Look how God is using ME.” When in fact, God is reminding me He is the one at work. I am only a tool.

I feel like I need to encourage us to take ourselves out of the mix all together. Look at what God did. Forget the “through me” part of the sentence. We tend to put so much emphasis on the servant when, in fact, God could use a monkey to accomplish the same thing if He wanted to. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s never was.

Let’s not miss recognizing what God is doing, when we subtly turn the emphasis on ourselves. Pride is pride. And it’s a sin even if it’s cloaked in humility, or excitement, or praise. Can we just say “Praise God for working, for doing, for revealing Himself in this situation,” without adding anything about us who were His instrument?

What a shame if we allow our “selves” to prevent us from giving credit where credit is due. What a shame if we would sin while serving. How tragic if we would allow pride to creep in. Yes, it’s a subtle difference. But it’s a difference Jesus felt was important enough to address.

That makes it significant.

November 29 – What Matters Is Jesus

I Corinthians 1-4

The Corinthian church had hit a rough  patch. In fact, it sounds like they were on the verge of a split. So Paul wrote a letter that gets to the heart of the matter. Jealousy. Pride.

“Stop it,” he told them. “Who cares who dunked you in the water? It doesn’t matter. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is seeing people come to Christ first? It doesn’t matter. Some people plant seed, others reap. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is honored, or has the best pew in church? It doesn’t matter. We are all servants of God. No one brings anything to the table they have achieved on their own.”

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (4:7)

What matters is Jesus. Paul seems to be telling us to get over ourselves. Keep you eyes on Jesus. YOU be obedient.  YOU be wise with the wisdom God gives. YOU be foolish in the eyes of the world.

Who cares what people think? What matters is Jesus.

 

July 10 – Pride Isn’t Just About Feeling Proud

2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26

Uzziah was feeling pretty good about himself. As king of Judah, he did a lot of good. He won wars, built towers, and dug wells. He became famous and strong. He did right in the sight of the Lord and God blessed him, and the nation of Judah.

Then, just when things were going well, Uzziah let pride get the best of him. He marched right into the temple and began to do the work of a priest. Scripture says he acted corruptibly and was unfaithful to God. When the priests called him on his sin, he was furious with the priests. How dare they tell him what he can and cannot do. He’s the great King Uzziah after all.

During his fit of anger, Uzziah broke out with leprosy. He lived the rest of his life shut up in a room by himself while his son ruled Judah in his place.

Pride. That weapon of Satan’s that’s pretty hard to fight against. And I don’t mean just the boastful, attention seeking attitude of some. Uzziah’s pride led him to believe he could re-write God’s law. It made him believe he could go to God on his own terms and not face consequences.

Pride can tell us our sin is too unique, too big for God to forgive. Pride can make us believe God sent Jesus to die for everyone but me (aren’t I special?) Pride can tell us we can face God on our own, or can handle hell, or because we choose to believe there is not God, that it’s true.

Pride can make us believe we are God’s equals. Pride says, “God and I have an agreement,” like you are telling God what is acceptable.

King Uzziah’s story reminds me that God hates pride. God prunes pride out of His children. And pride, left unchecked, has devastating consequences.