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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pride and Humility

The Christian church has listed pride as one of the seven deadly sins.

Pride - Pride is a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people; a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.; a feeling that you are more important or better than other people; inordinate self-esteem; ostentatious display.

Humility - a modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance; the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people; has a humble opinion of oneself.

Humble - not proud, arrogant, haughty; not thinking yourself as better than others; reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; ranking low in a hierarchy of scale; not costly or luxurious

Uriah Heep is a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his novel David Copperfield. The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity. He was a slimy, oily, insincere, calculating villain under a veneer of false humility. His name has become synonymous with a sycophant. A sycophant is a parasite, toady, leech, sponge; an obsequious flatterer or self-seeker. A parasite who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence to use that person to better themselves. A person who attempts to gain advantage by flattering influential people or behaving in a servile manner. A sycophant is a person who tries to win favor from wealthy or influential people by flattering them.
Heep was described as ugly and repulsive- tall, cadaverous, pale with red hair and lashless eyes; with jerking and writhing movements (like a snake). He is motivated by greed and resentment. His ambitions thwarted, he seeks to arrange matters to his advantage. He hates all those whom he sees as "above" him and lives to see them humiliated as he feels humiliated. Always plotting behind the scenes. A hypocrit of hypocrits. He wants to force Agnes Wickfield into marriage and gain control over her father's fortune and he uses treachery and blackmail. Throughout the book, Heep obsessively and compulsively calls himself "'umble". He is totally obsessed with maintaining the appearance of humility. "I am well aware that I am the 'umblest person going... My mother is likewise a very 'umble person." He cannot seem to say a complete sentence without referring to himself as being 'umble in some way.

Of course, what stands out about Uriah Heep is that no matter how humble he thinks himself and no matter how humble he tells others he is, he is consumed with pride. He is the very antithesis of humility!

My point is how very upside down we can become when it comes to the matter of pride and humility. When we congratulate ourselves for being humble we have just crossed over into pride! We are proud that we are humble!?!

Pride is the real sneaky snake of sins.

We can have a good feeling of pride over some accomplishment by ourself or others. But it doesn't take much for a human being to cross the line and fall into the sin of pride.

"According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began." -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Simon and Schuster Touchstone edition, 1996), 109, 111.

What happened to satan? How did he fall from heaven? Let's look at the biblical texts that deal with the fall of satan and 1/3 of the angels:

Ezekiel 28:1-17 (Easy to Read Version - ERV) The word of the LORD came to me. He said, (2) "Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, 'This is what the Lord GOD says: "'You are very proud! And you say, "I am a god! I sit on the seat of gods in the middle of the seas." "'But you are a man and not God! You only think you are a god. (3) You think you are wiser than Daniel and no secret is hidden from you. (4) Through your wisdom and understanding you have gotten riches for yourself. And you put gold and silver in your treasuries. (5) Through your great wisdom and trade, you have made your riches grow. And now you are proud because of those riches. (6) "'So this is what the Lord GOD says: Tyre, you thought you were like a god. (7) I will bring strangers to fight against you. They are most terrible among the nations! They will pull out their swords and use them against the beautiful things your wisdom brought you. They will ruin your glory. (8) They will bring you down to the grave. You will be like a sailor who died at sea. (9) That person will kill you. Will you still say, "I am a god"? No, he will have you in his power! You will see that you are a man, not God! (10) Strangers will treat you like a foreigner and kill you, because I gave the command!'" This is what the Lord GOD said. (11) The word of the LORD came to me. He said, (12) "Son of man, sing this sad song about the king of Tyre. Say to him, 'This is what the Lord GOD says: "'You were the perfect man-- so full of wisdom and perfectly handsome. (13) You were in Eden, the garden of God. You had every precious stone-- rubies, topaz, and diamonds, beryls, onyx, and jasper, sapphires, turquoise, and emeralds. And each of these stones was set in gold. You were given this beauty on the day you were created. God made you strong. (14) You were one of the chosen Cherubs who spread your wings over my throne. I put you on the holy mountain of God. You walked among the jewels that sparkled like fire. (15) You were good and honest when I created you, but then you became evil. (16) Your business brought you many riches. But they also put cruelty inside you, and you sinned. So I treated you like something unclean and threw you off the mountain of God. You were one of the chosen Cherubs who spread your wings over my throne. But I forced you to leave the jewels that sparkled like fire. (17) Your beauty made you proud. Your glory ruined your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground, and now other kings stare at you.

The King of Tyre was Ethbaal, or Ithobal and was a real ruler. But this prophesy is not just about Ethbaal. It goes beyond a record in human history, but includes satan and his fall. Though there was a human “ruler” of Tyre, the real “king” of Tyre was satan.

Isaiah 14:9-17 (ERV) The place of death is excited that you are coming. Sheol is waking the spirits of all the leaders of the earth for you. Sheol is making the kings stand up from their thrones to meet you. (10) They will make fun of you, saying, "Now you are as dead as we are. Now you are just like us." (11) Your pride has been sent down to Sheol. The music from your harps announces the coming of your proud spirit. Maggots will be the bed you lie on, and other worms will cover your body like a blanket. (12) You were like the morning star, but you have fallen from the sky. In the past, all the nations on earth bowed down before you, but now you have been cut down. (13) You always told yourself, "I will go to the skies above. I will put my throne above God's stars. I will sit on Zaphon, the holy mountain where the gods meet. (14) I will go up to the altar above the tops of the clouds. I will be like God Most High." (15) But that did not happen. You were brought down to the deep pit--Sheol, the place of death. (16) People will come to look at your dead body. They will think about you and say, "Is this the same man who caused great fear in all the kingdoms on earth, (17) who destroyed cities and turned the land into a desert, who captured people in war and would not let them go home?"

This angel is the highest creature the Lord ever created. Satan wanted to be God. His pride led him to think he could be like God! His sin of pride cost him his position as a cherub around the throne of God. Satan was a CHERUB and his position was to guard the throne of God, protecting the holiness of God. Satan had the highest of all positions. But he no longer wanted to be a servant of God, he wanted to BE God. God cast him out of his place of authority. As a result of his sin against God, Lucifer was banished from living in heaven. He became corrupt, and his name changed from Lucifer (“morning star”) to satan (“adversary”). His power became completely perverted and his destiny is everlasting fire and torment.

Now let's look at Adam and Eve. How did satan tempt them to sin?

Genesis 3:1-7 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, Is it so that God has said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (2) And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. (3) But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. (4) And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, (5) for God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil. (6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasing to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make wise, she took of its fruit, and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (7) And the eyes of both of them were opened. And they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made girdles for themselves.

He tempted them with the same temptation he fell from - the desire to be God!

Proverbs 16:18-19 (ERV) Pride is the first step toward destruction. Proud thoughts will lead you to defeat. (19) It is better to be a humble person living among the poor than to share the wealth among the proud.

Philippians 2:3 (ERV) In whatever you do, don't let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves.

1 Timothy 3:6 (ERV) An elder must not be a new believer. It might make him too proud of himself. Then he would be condemned for his pride the same as the devil was.

Have you read Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Emperor's New Clothes? A vain Emperor who only cares about his new clothes hires two weavers who promise him the finest suit of clothes made from an invisible fabric. The Emperor's ministers cannot see the clothes themselves, but pretend they can for fear of insulting the Emperor (who does the same). The weavers pretend to dress him in this new exotic suit and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects to show off. The townspeople play along and pretend to see the suit of clothes so they won't be considered stupid. Finally, a child, in his innocence, declares the truth by saying, "But the emperor is wearing no clothes!"

This tale speaks, on the one hand, about the Emperor's pride, his pompous arrogance. An emperor "whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes. He changed clothes almost every hour and loved to show them off to his people." He was consumed with himself and he thought others ought to be as well. It is also a tale of the pandering of the public who played along with the delusion.

Whether we are so arrogant as to think we know it all or we are the sycophant who bows and scrapes around those we think have it all, we are so wrong.

Pride seeks to be independent of God, to be God rather than to be dependent on God. We want to take care of ourselves. We think we know it all and if everyone listened to our fount of wisdom, this world would go places. We would much rather tell God what to do and have Him obey us! We tend to think that God surely has no idea what He's doing and we know so much better than He does. We want to wrest our lives out of His Hands as though He were incompetent. We want to make our decisions, thank you very much. And we want everyone around us to think we are something too! Yes, everyone should do what we say and this world would be a better place! Pride is the idolatry of self! We want to be the center of the universe.

If you go around like Uriah Heep, and put yourself down all the time and moan and groan about how ugly, fat, stupid you are... that is false humility. Why? You don't like yourself so how is that pride? Because every waking moment, you are obsessed with yourself even if it's hating yourself! All your energy, all your thoughts, all your actions are me, Me, ME! By saying, "I wish I had never been born", we are really saying, "God, You didn't know what You were doing when You made me. You made a mistake. I know better than You do and I proclaim myself a big mistake."

I have seen anorexics on TV. They think they are so fat when we can all see they are dangerously cadaverous! Like the Emperor's new clothes. Every moment they count calories, stare at themselves in the mirror, moan and groan about how fat they are. They demand everyone in the household to pander to their sickness. They spend hours exercising. They damage their bodies to the point of death and it's all pride.

There are those who spend every spare minute at the gym, watching themselves in the mirrors as they bulk up. They arrange their diets around protein drinks and vitamin shakes. They spend all their money on work out clothes, work out shoes, sports equipment. They live, breath, eat physical fitness and they can't understand anyone who doesn't. It's pride.

Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the LORD says: "Bad things will happen to those who put their trust in people. Bad things will happen to those who depend on human strength. That is because they have stopped trusting the LORD.

There are those who spend all their money on clothes, accessories, fancy shoes, hair styles, makeup and cosmetic surgeries. Everything must look perfect in order to project the right image to... who? The world? Get over yourself! It's pride and arrogance.

Proverbs 30:12-13 (King James Version - KJV) There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. (13) There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

Proverbs 30:12-13 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) others think they are perfect, but they are stained by sin. (13) Some people are stuck-up and act like snobs;

Proverbs 30:12-13 (ERV) Some people think they are pure, but they have done nothing to remove the filth of their sin. (13) Some people are so proud of themselves, and they look down on everyone else.

There are those who go about with a hang dog look and morosely cite all the reasons they should kill themselves. Every moment is spent on hating themselves and hating their lives and blaming others for what's happened to them. They constantly make bad decisions which increase their problems (taking drugs, hanging out with the wrong people, smoking, drinking, wearing ridiculous outfits and proclaiming to others that they are "outsiders"). They write poetry of pity and hate. They listen to music that panders to that self destructive weakness inside. How is this pride? Because everything is about me, me, me. You think you are the center of the universe and it's all about you. Those of us with suicidal ideations are really obsessing on taking control of our lives and taking the easy way out. We think God has really messed up and is too weak to do anything to fix our situation so we will just take the bull by the horns and jump off a bridge. It's selfish pride!

There are those who make fun of others as sport. They bully, mock, and ridicule others. They think they are superior and anyone they consider inferior has one purpose in the world - to be the laughing stock. How much pride and arrogance does it take to think you are superior above everyone else and that it gives you permission to make fun of those who are different? It's something so ugly, no matter how beautiful/handsome you may be on the outside, your ugly heart ruins your image. Looking down your nose at someone else is the worst sort of pride. You may have been born with beautiful teeth and someone else was not born with beautiful teeth. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. You were born that way, they were born their way. You have no control over having good teeth and they have no control over having bad teeth. So to think you are superior and they are inferior based on something neither one of you had control over is more than absurd. Maybe your parents can afford good clothes but their parents can't. You aren't special because you have good clothes. It's just the way of life. Let me be the first to tell you that one day, your little perfect world, will disappear like fog. You will age. You will gain weight. You will lose hair. Your teeth will fall out. You will get weak. Your money could disappear overnight. Your group of friends will evaporate. It will be YOU one day depending on someone else to help you. If you live long enough, there is no ifs about it. It will happen. So don't rely on your beauty, your strength, your money, your parents' power, your big career. You may think you are a Master of the Universe but it will topple like a toddler's blocks. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen."

Proverbs 3:34 (ERV) He will humiliate those who make fun of others, but he is kind to those who are humble.

Some of the newer black movies fall into a lot of pride. If you'll notice the black men have big name careers, are physically perfect, they drive svelt cars, wear expensive suits and have big houses. Believe me, this kind of pride is not a black issue, it's just that I've noticed the black movies are over doing it. (And so called white movies have done it forever too.) They take what the world considers as success, and add to it. Instead of a nice pair of dress shoes they have a $500 pair of dress shoes. Instead of a good car, they have a $150,000 sports car. I mean, you might as well hand print a sign and paste it to your forehead... "I made it, Look what I have and you don't!" From the outside, when you see this kind of pride on someone, it's ridiculous. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes.

1 Corinthians 4:7-8 (ERV) Who do you think you are? Everything you have was given to you. So, if everything you have was given to you, why do you act as if you got it all by your own power? (8) You think you have everything you need. You think you are rich. You think you have become kings without us. I wish you really were kings. Then we could rule together with you.

I don't care who you are, white, black, young, old, male, female, we fall into pride big time. I'm just as bad as you are. We can show off in pride or we can show out in pride, but whenever it's all about ME, it's pride! We can look at ourselves in the mirror all day long and not see it, that's how deceptive it can be. Others see it, like the Emperor's subjects. But we don't seem to see it in ourselves. We don't see the self worship.

At this particular time, we are about to vote for president and the two candidates are Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Neither one exhibits humility. Neither one indicates that they have any nobility of purpose and both seem to think their poop doesn't stink! Hillary Clinton has a decades long list of scandals and corruption but she acts totally oblivious to it. We are all suppose to NOT SEE it, like the Emperor's subjects. Everyone is suppose to say what beautiful new clothes she's wearing when she's naked! Donald Trump is a self proclaimed "rock star" who thinks he can get away with anything because of the money and power he has. But he's not wearing any clothes either. All of us see them for the naked Emperors they really are. How they got to be our candidates is complicated. I pray they will be humbled. It is for our good that we are humbled. I'm not saying anything ugly or mean. We all need humbling. We all need to learn about humility. It would serve us all well to learn it so I can pray that Trump and Clinton learn true humility and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Let's talk about humility. We have a good grasp on pride and we've seen false humility. But what is true humility?

As a human being, it's very hard to understand true humility. It goes against our basic instinct. We come into the world thinking we are the center of the universe. A baby cries and expects someone to feed it, change it, make it feel better. It's just who we are.

But let's see what God says. Humility is the recognition of our total dependence upon God. We must realize and acknowledge our sinfulness and our need of a Savior. From birth to death, we are totally dependent on God. We cannot build ourselves in our mother's womb. God plans us, forms us and breathes life into us. We cannot take our first breath in this world but God created this world to sustain us. He provided the oxygen, gravity, sunshine, water, the meat and plants for us to eat. We cannot learn but God gave us our brains and intelligence. We cannot save ourselves from our own sins. God provided the way to save us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice for our sins. The fact that I live, breath and have my being is because God so ordained it. The fact that I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him is based not on my good works but on what Jesus did for me. I can boast about nothing for I can do nothing to birth myself, sustain myself, or save myself.

1 Timothy 1:15 (ERV) Here is a true statement that should be accepted without question: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them.

True humility is understanding God as the giver and sustainer of everything and seeing ourselves as sinful and needy. We must trust totally in Him and not in ourselves.

Romans 11:36 (Tree of Life Version - TLV) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Humility does not mean we castigate ourselves. For, as we've talked about above, this can be just as much pride. We become self righteous in our pride. I've seen pictures of people who bloody themselves with whips or by crawling on their hands and knees in some sort of religious pilgrimage or ritual. But then they are so proud of their wounds and their self sacrifice! We can think we are holier than thou when we do such things.

2 Corinthians 3:5 (ERV) I don't mean that we are able to do anything good ourselves. It is God who makes us able to do all that we do.

Humility means that we sincerely recognize our dependence on God. It is a voluntarily submissive heart. It also means we are not always thinking about ourself but of others. We are not selfish, we aren't trying to show off, we aren't overly concerned about what others think of us and we look for ways to serve others rather than ourselves.

Philippians 2:1-18 (CEV) Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. (2) Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. (3) Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. (4) Care about them as much as you care about yourselves (5) and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: (6) Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. (7) Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. (8) Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. (9) Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others. (10) So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. (11) And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, "Jesus Christ is Lord!" (12) My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. (13) God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. (14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing. (15) Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, (16) as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless. (17) Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. (18) In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me.

Matthew 23:12 (ERV) People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great.

Jesus Christ was the model of true humility. He was God. And yet He lowered Himself to become a man in order to save us.

Philippians 2:5-9 (ERV) In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought. (6) He was like God in every way, but he did not think that his being equal with God was something to use for his own benefit. (7) Instead, he gave up everything, even his place with God. He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form. During his life as a man, (8) he humbled himself by being fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death--death on a cross. (9) So God raised him up to the most important place and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.

Matthew 11:29 (ERV) Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest.

As true Christians, believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to follow Him. And He was humble and had a servant's heart. May we strive to be like Him. Humility is self denial. It is NOT giving in and being subservient to the world and obsequence to the ways of the world. It is being submissive to God and denying self. Two things that go against our sinful grain. But for it to be true humility, it must be sincere and spontaneous out of our love for God. It takes great inner strength and confidence to be humble. It is an attitude of heart that believes we owe all to God and we show our love and gratitude by trusting and obeying Him.

2 Corinthians 5:9 (ERV) Our only goal is to always please the Lord, whether we are living here in this body or there with him.

Our reward?
Matthew 20:16 (ERV) So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many are called, but few are chosen.

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