Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got Pride?

Pride---it's what goes before destruction!

We all know that it caused Lucifer's fall. Throughout the Old Testament, G-d warns, rebukes and punishes Israel for the sin of pride. Because of the sin of pride, they go their own way, refuse to be instructed by G-d's prophets, and even justify their sins, claiming innocence of any wrongdoing! Pride is a wicked, heinous sin in G-d's eyes. Why, then, is it strangely absent from the Ten Commandments?! Or is it??

If we study the sin of pride, we see some interesting things. For one thing, we know that G-d sure hates this sin!

Proverbs 6:16-19
spells that out very clearly: "These six things doth the L-rd hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." Notice that pride leads the list!

Proverbs 8:3 further reiterates how G-d hates the sin of pride: "The fear of the L-rd is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Notice the progression of sins......pride starts in the heart, and the rest follows!

Pride is the forerunner, or the root of the other sins. What causes us to lie? Pride. What causes covetousness/jealousy? Pride. What causes murder? Pride. What causes selfishness? Pride. What causes a "sorry ol' sister" to spread gossip and sow discord in a church? Pride. What causes stubborness and rebellion? Pride.

So you see, the Ten Commandments deal with sins that are the embodiment of the evil, pride, with idolatry at its head.

What was the one sin of which Israel was so often guilty? Spiritual adultery, right? They went whoring after other gods---which we all recognize as idolatry. This violated the first two commandments: 1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image....

Isn't it so true that we often fail to recognize idolatry in our own hearts? We think because we don't worship idols of wood, clay or stone that we don't practice idolatry, when in fact, we are saturated with self-idolatry!

Pride, dear friend, is nothing more than self-idolatry!

Pride is an integral part of our culture! Aren't we "proud to be an American"? We're proud of our children and grandchildren. We're proud of our heritage. We're proud of our accomplishments. We throw that word around without even thinking about what we're saying. Pride has come to mean something good in our eyes. We're admonished to "take pride in our work". Children are encouraged to do well in school so that they're parents will be "proud of them".

Pride has infiltrated our relationships and way of life like a toxic ooze. Marriage conflicts, petty grudges between siblings and coworkers, competition and rivalries within churches----all are a result of pride. Proverbs 13:10---"Only by pride cometh contention...." Down deep in our heart of hearts, we must think we are better than the other person to behave this way. Criticizing someone else to make oneself look better is a result of pride. Unforgiveness or refusal to apologize for a wrong done are a result of pride.

No, my friend, self-esteem is not the underlying problem of our society. Pride is!

Oh, pride is so wicked! Our enemy is full of pride and seeks to entrap us in its clutches. Pride is bondage! It keeps us from loving the L-rd as we should, and from loving others. It hinders us from victory over sins with which we struggle ! It destroys us from the inside out.

Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the writers say that they are proud of anything or anyone. But Paul does use another word that has a different connotation and emphasis: that word is "glory".

Paul said in Romans 15:17--"I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to G-d." Paul said on more than one occasion that he gloried in his infirmities; he gloried in them that the power of Christ might rest upon him (II Cor. 12:9). Paul gloried in the Cross: Gal. 6:14---"But G-d forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our L-rd Jesus Christ...."

Pride, being a very selfish sin, puts the emphasis on our own selves, on our own benefit. When we glory in something, we rejoice because of it pleasing the L-rd, and benefiting others; we enjoy the benefits ourselves as well, but it isn't because of anything on our account.

All that we have, all that we are, all with which we are blessed is not from anything of ourselves for which pride should play a part; everything comes from the L-rd: James 1:17---"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Got pride? There is a remedy with which our generous Heavenly Father also provides a blessing:

Isaiah 57:15---"For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

Matthew 23:12---"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

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