March 13, 2016   Jeremiah 9:23 & 24    Pride 

.   There is the story of 5 people flying in an airplane and after they have been flying for awhile the pilot comes back to a rack and puts on a parachute.  As he puts on the parachute he tells the passengers this plane is going down and there is nothing I can do about it.   Then he tells them I know there are 5 people on board but we only have 4 parachutes and then he opens a door and jumps out.  There is a doctor on board and he says I save lives and it is very important for me to live and he grabs one and jumps out.  Then a man steps up and says I am the world’s smartest man.   I am a lawyer and it is important for me to live and he grabs one and jumps out.     There is a pastor and a little girl left and the pastor says.   I know Jesus and I know I am going to heaven.  I have lived a long and good life you take the last parachute because your whole life is in front of you.   The little girl said do not worry pastor.  The lawyer the smartest man in the world that just jumped out of the plane, he jumped out with my back pack.

     Pride comes before a fall and some falls are pretty bad.   We need God’s wisdom.  Do any of you know what the most critical need of your children is?  Do you know what the biggest need your spouse had last week?  Do you know what is your biggest need is right now?  Do you know what your need will be next week?  Do you know what your child or friend needs will be next week?  Certainly Jesus knows.  Do you know your own needs for next week?   Anyone of us could be in the hospital tomorrow.   The bible in James tells us not to boast about tomorrow.     We do not know as much as we think we do.  We may be knowledgeable in the world but wisdom comes from Jesus I Corinthians 1. 

   This passage tells us not to brag or glory in our strength in money which is fleeting or in your wisdom.  Sometimes the Lord has to work on us for a long time to teach us to trust in him and not have pride in our own ability or possessions.  I know the Lord has been dealing with me and the last 2 years have been a class for me.  I have noticed that men who are smart tend to take lot of pride in their wisdom.  The rich tend to take pride in their ability to make money.  And the strong are focused on their strength.  I have been guilty of that.  The Pharisees took pride in their righteousness which was very misguided.  In their heart there was a lot of pride. 

   Christians should see ourselves as the poor tax collector who would not lift up his eyes to heaven but beat on his breast and poured out his soul praying God have mercy on me.  The religious person the Pharisee was smug.  Jesus said the Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: about himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.   Some might say well I go to church, read my bible, give some of my money, and pray and I am a pretty good person.   I do not smoke, drink or chew or go with guys or gals that do.   I think Jesus is saying that is not a good place to be.      What did Jesus say?  Jesus said the tax collector was justified not the religious leader.

    Preacher Dwight L. Moody said: “God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.”

    Paul in Romans 2 makes the point that those who pass judgment on others that the person condemns him or herself in that they do the same thing.  A critical spirit that comes from a heart of pride is very destructive in marriage.  I have lived it.  Pride comes before a fall.  We have seen people who say I will never be like that and they usually have some aspect of that trait in their life and often they are blind to it.   We need to see our sin.  We need to make sure the beam is not in our eye when we seek to correct another.  The other person is always corrected with the view to restore.  You cannot see very well to help another when your eye is full of your personal stuff.  Many people have an inflated view about himself or herself.   

   Mark McMinn writes when we see ourselves as “pretty good,” we misunderstand the gravity of sin and our desperate need for grace. We place ourselves above others, become their judges, and give them the power to disappoint us.  A physicist friend uses this analogy: Each of us is like a light bulb. One shines with fifty watts of holiness, another has only twenty-five watts. Maybe the most stellar Christians are two hundred watts. But these comparisons become trite in the presence of the sun.  In the face of God, our different levels of piety are puny and meaningless. It makes no sense to compare ourselves with one another, because we are all much more alike than we are different.    Mark McMinn,  Why Sin Matters (Tyndale, 2004)

   Sometimes our pride gets us into the position where we want to be the Holy Spirit in that we want to convict the other person.   We want to change them.  Sometimes I say that to myself and fall flat on my face.  It is the Holy Spirits job to bring conviction.  The Spirit at times may lead us to speak into a person life but it is God that changes the heart.   You are not the junior holy spirit folks. We should always enter into times of correction with others in fear and trembling and certainly never in pride.  Galatians 6 warns us that seek to restore your brother gently and humbly so that you are not tempted.  When there is an issue we always seek to restore.   Christ was very loving and lifting in the gospels when people came and repented.    Let’s remember our role in other people’s lives.  We can forget at times that what is sin for me may not be sin for you.  The recovering alcoholic should not be around an open bar and where people are drinking but for others that is not an issue.  Some folks are weaker in faith than others.   Some of us have been convicted of sin that others haven’t.  Often we want to get ahead of God on what God is doing in some one else’s life.   They are doing something we do not like and we want the behavior changed.  This is wrong and you need to change this in your life.  Well maybe that what God is doing in their life at that point.  We need to stay on board with what God is doing and not doing our own stuff.  When we do not move in the spirit of the Lord we will not get the results.   It will not happen.  My flesh does not create godly things period.  The song writer wrote the arm of flesh will fail you.  Pride comes before a fall. 


   Lent is a good time to think about what James wrote in chapter 4.   Submit yourselves, then, to God.    Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.    Come near to God and he will come near to you.   Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.   Grieve, mourn and wail.   Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.   Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  So if I want to be lifted up then I need to humble my arrogant heart.   We do not spend all of our time doing that but there are times to humble our self.     

   Max Lucado in traveling light shares a story about himself.    He writes that humility is an elusive virtue that when you think you have it you have lost it.  It is like the preacher who was given the humble button and so he wore it and then the church took it away from him.   He writes that he went to a small town nearby to work on writing his book.   He went into a café to get breakfast and noticed that people were staring at him.  As he parked 2 people looked at him.  He said a woman did a double take as he entered the cafe and several looked at him as he walked back to a table.  He wondered why he was getting all the attention.

     He had sweats on so it was not his pants zipper.  He thought well maybe they know who I am.  Maybe they know a good author when they see one he thought.  His appreciation for the town only grew.  He smiled at the people across from him.   He went up to the cash register to pay and thought that Steinbeck had the same problem.  He went into the rest room and then saw that he had a ribbon of blood that had dried on his chin from when he saved that morning.   Pride comes before a fall.  I have heard it said that the fastest prayer that God answers is Lord break me. 

    In Proverbs 6 the Lord says I hate pride.   God is passionate about pride.   God hates it.    I Peter 5 and James 5 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  James 5:10 humble yourself and he will lift you up.  In Nehemiah 1 we read, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven   Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.   We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 

    Then in Nehemiah 9 we read “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.  “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands.   They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.   Why does God hate our pride?  I think Nehemiah hits it on the head.   It is our pride that at the root that causes us to not listen.   It is our pride that causes us to rebel.   When they became arrogant they disobeyed God and so we do the same thing today.   Why does God hate pride because it is not good?   Pride is destructive.  Pride destroys and does not build.  Pride brings division.  Proverbs 13:10 pride only breeds quarrels.   Proverbs 29:23 a man’s pride brings him low.  Proverbs 22:10 drive out the mocker and out goes strife; quarrels are ended. 

     Augustine said: “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” 

    Proverbs 16:18 pride goes before destruction haughty spirit before a fall.  Gordon McDonald writes.  I was at the Pennsylvania Relays, a famous Eastern track meet, and our relay team was running in the championship race.   I was the leadoff man and in the second lane.   The man in the first lane held the 100-meter dash record for prep school runners at that time. He also held a record for arrogance, because when I got to the line and put my starting blocks down, he said, “May the best man win.   I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.”    We went into the blocks. The gun sounded. He took off, and seven of us settled in behind him.   We went around the first turn and down the back stretch. About 180 meters into the race, I suddenly saw the record holder in front of me, holding his side, bent over and groaning as he jogged along.   We passed him like he was standing still, and because I’m such a gentleman, I waited for him at the finish line.  At the end of the race, my coach took me aside and said, “I hope you’ve learned a lesson today.  It makes little difference whether you hold the record for the 100-meter dash if the race is 400 meters long.”   — Gordon MacDonald, Promise Keepers   “Go the Distance” conference (August 11, 2000)     I think that we have all seen the truth in that scripture that pride comes before a fall.   

    At best we are just tools in Jesus hands.   Is the hammer proud that it drove the nail in?    Of course not it was just a tool.   The hammer did not do it on its own.  In I Corinthians 4 tells us that everything we got we have received it.  Every good thing that we have is from God.  Where do we get our money, our wisdom and strength from?   James writes that every good and perfect gift is from God.  Why do we take so much pride in ourselves?   Isaiah 66:2 God says this is the one I esteem he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.   The King James and another translation say this is the man I will look to.  God looks to the humble person. 

    I have been excited about prayer and preached on it a number of times last year.  I have been excited about answers to prayer.  But God is the one who answers.  I know I can share God’s word but I can’t become proud about that.  The Apostle Paul was lifted to the 3rd heaven and heard things that man cannot speak and a messenger of Satan was sent to him to keep him humble.  God sent that messenger.  Acts 19 tells us that handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul were passed around and people were healed from them and evil spirits left them.  Wow Paul said God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of Jesus.     Social media today.