There is not much redneck or country in me. My wardrobe does not contain boots, big belts, or camouflage. I do not own a rifle, shotgun or rebel flag, and I don’t appreciate country music. It just don’t seem to get the thrill others do from songs like, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and “I’m Pretty Good at Drinking Beer.” However, there was a song written a few years back that might set the stage for our devotional today. It goes something like this:
We talk about your work, how your boss is a jerk
We talk about your church and your head when it hurts
We talk about the troubles you’ve been having with your brother
About your daddy and your mother and your crazy ex-lover
We talk about your friends and the places that you’ve been
We talk about your skin and the dimples on your chin
The polish on your toes and the run in your hose
And God knows we’re gonna talk about your clothes
You know talking about you makes me smile
But every once in a while
I want talk about me, wanna talk about I
Want talk about number one, oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I like talking about you, you, you, you, usually
But occasionally, I wanna talk about me. (Toby Keith)
What we see here is a universal passion. All men are narcissists. All men have a natural tendency to worship self. All men are arrogant, haughty, conceited or proud. Someone has once said, “Pride is like underwear. It is the first thing a man puts on in the morning, and the last thing he takes off.”
However, just because this is universal and natural, that does not make it acceptable. God sees pride; he hates pride, and he opposes pride. Perhaps the following illustrations will drive these points home:
Consider Lucifer and the demons. They were not satisfied with their God-determined place. Together they sought to dethrone the Creator. They though of themselves more highly than they ought and were booted from Heaven.
Consider Adam and Eve. While enjoying the blessings of God, they joined forces with Satan. They considered God to be too limiting. They reasoned the Serpent to be a better leader. They switched teams and were excommunicated from Paradise.
Consider Sodom and Egypt. In both cities God was pleased to demonstrate his power before executing extreme justice. However, despite the blindness in Sodom, and the plagues in Egypt, both cities were filled with men who thought too highly of themselves. The Sodomites were destroyed by fire. The Egyptians by water. God opposed them because they were incorrigibly arrogant.
Consider David and Nebuchadnezzar. These two kings received their thrones from God, and both of them let it go to their heads. David took another man’s wife and life. Nebuchadnezzar, despite being warned, held a pep-rally for himself. Ultimately, David lost his child and Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Consider the Pharisees. No group looked better in the eyes of men and worse in the eyes of Christ. Jesus commented on how they loved the chief seats and important titles. They sought to do all their good deeds in the open so others might see and be impressed. They outwardly pretended to be men of compassion, but they were willing to harm the poor, the elderly, the alien, or the widow in order to better worship themselves. Tragically, though they were men of the Book, the Church and the Cloth, many of them are suffering the eternal condemnation of God today. It is eternally dangerous to think more highly of yourself than you ought.
Consider your proud attitude and actions, and remember that God does not change. He sees your pride; he hates your pride; and he opposes your pride. Perhaps the following verses will drive these points home.
Psalm 101:5 “Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart, I will not endure.”
Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Be assured, he will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 6:16-17 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes ….”
Proverbs 15:25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud ….”
But now for the Gospel.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
James 4:6 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore what ought we to do?
We should humble ourselves and pray for salvation. The Father so loved the proud and arrogant that he sent his Son. The Son obeyed the Father and was the model of humility, yet he was humiliated on behalf of all who would call upon him for salvation. The Holy Spirit then came and humbled the proud and arrogant, pointed them to Christ, and then dwelt in them progressively making them more humble.
We should daily read the Scriptures and pray hourly. He who prays little is most arrogant. Prayer proves that one is dependent upon the Holy Spirit for success in life. Likewise, he who reads little is so conceited. He reasons he needs not the wisdom of God to direct his paths. Humble people have daily devotions and perpetual communion. Humility comes from being transformed by the Spirit and Word of God. (Romans 12:1-3)
We should obey God. How arrogant is the person who believes in God, understands his will, and then determines to rebel. Such a person proves himself to be following the lead of Satan.
We should obey God’s authorities. It is an act of sinful independence to disregard the ecclesiastical, governmental, academic, or parental leaders he has established. We prove our humility before God by being humble before God’s authority figures.
We should accept correction and be teachable. A proud fool is one who is a “know it all.” The wise son has many teachers and counselors.
We should consider others better than ourselves. Humble people love to serve others. Before they focus on self, they seek to love God and their neighbor. They are quite often taking the back seat. They are found serving on their knees; this is especially true with those who have been called to leadership positions. They are eager to keep the peace. They are always ready to overlook an offense and forgive.
We should be thankful. Humble people understand that God is the giver of all good gifts. They do not take credit for any of their accomplishments — financial, familial, academic, athletic, beauty, brawn, personality, arts, etc … (Duet. 8:11-20) They are more like Tim Tebow and Tony Dungy, and less like Steve Smith and Mohammed Ali; they are quick to deflect praise and glory to God. They are not guilty of “Cosmic Plagiarism.” (Read C.J. Mahaney, Humility)
We should be content. They recognize that God has given them that which is best for his glory and their good, and they are fine with that. Like the Apostle Paul, whether well fed or hungry, whether on top of the world or under the mountain, they are content in all circumstances. (Phillipians 4) Any tribulation that comes their way is of the Father, any blessing is of grace. The humbly sing with Job, “The Lord gives and takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Finally, we should be expectant. Those that are humble are often promoted on this earth. Businesses appreciate such leaders. Less proud individuals seem to have more friends, because people like humble self-effacing neighbors. Humble teachers are the best. Humble coaches have players who watch their back. However, even when humility does not pay on earth — as was the case with John the Baptist and Jesus Christ — it certainly pays in glory. Solomon said, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4) Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) James concluded, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Let us now go to the Lord and ask that he might humble us in actions and attitudes. After all, meekness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:23)
Scripture Reading Plan
Friday, November 22, 2013: Ezekiel 24-26; James 3
Saturday, November 23, 2013: Ezekiel 27-28; James 4
Sunday, November 24, 2013: Ezekiel 29-31; James 5
Monday, November 25, 2013: Ezekiel 32-33; 1 Peter 1
Tuesday, November 26, 2013; Ezekiel 34-35; 1 Peter 2
Starting January 1, 2014, this blog will most likely follow a Chronological Reading Plan that will read through the Scriptures in one year. If you have never done this before, it will help your grasp of biblical history to read the Bible in this manner. More information will be coming regarding the particular plan.