Posts Tagged With: Pride

Hard to be Humble

The stuff God teaches delivers the most enduring wealth of spirit.

Continuing the subject of humilty, there’s a few statements that need to be made. So I’m taking this opportunity to fill in some gaps on the topic, and this will come with greater detail and explanation in later posts as well.

Kevin Rudd

It’s in the deep recesses of a man’s convoluted thoughts where his hubris often takes up secret residence. Behind a façade comprised of false humilities, where he’s convinced Himself the projection of meekness casts its glow, he seeks the final jewel in his crown of grandiosity.

There’s not a single soul among us who’s not been influenced by the sin of pride. Developing an enduring humility, the antithesis and nemesis of pride, is a lifelong pursuit. It took tremendous tragedy, conjoined with the devastation of my reputation, before I could even perceive the pride that resided in my own heart.

So elusive is this virtue of godliness, that one’s life must often be reduced to rubble before the genuine attributes of humility can shine forth as diamonds peeking out from a mud pie. For me, it took an unfaithful spouse, divorce, and finally a term in prison to prep the soil of my heart for God’s loving humility to merely begin sprouting. When a man’s life turns to poo, he finally finds the handle, but even then, its residence is often as momentary as the proverbial travelling salesman’s night with the farmer’s daughter. Perhaps humility’s a bit like unto Bigfoot, never being captured with any certainty, so we may begin to doubt its very existence.

But we have a paragon of humble servitude, a perfect role-model in Christ Jesus. Isn’t it a fantastically ironic thing that only God Himself can perfectly model humility?

As Christians, it’s a trust issue. Can we trust our Lord to hold and mold our character, to provide our satisfactions, and bank our accolades, and finally our rewards? There are scads of attributes and accomplishments for which we hunger to be recognized.

After all, what’s wrong with the tasting of notoriety in the here and now? Am I supposed to be poor, unknown and miserable all my days? Will we really find contentment without being known as the great mind behind this or that? How do we appease this longing to be recognized, lauded and celebrated?

Like many youngsters, I endured the chicken pox as a toddler. I can still recall the incessant itchiness, and mom refusing to allow me to scratch it. That’s what this feels like, doesn’t it? We want to be awarded, noted, or at least afforded the credit we’re due, yet the Lord calls us to patiently endure the itch without scratching?

Better yet, what has the Lord promised in return? Do we know the secret that’s not so secret? That He offers complete and total satiation while still in this life below? The Lord desires us to discover the absence of want—to know the “I shall not want” of David’s 23rd Psalm, and how it’s realized both exclusively and comprehensively through total dependence upon our Lord.

 

Apostle Paul was used by God to convey the means of applying the truths expounded in Christ’s doctrines, that we may grow thereby and emulate His glorious attributes and virtues, including humility. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:11
It is solely through Christ Jesus that we are made alive unto God. When we are dead to sin, it loses the power it once had over us. On the other side of that coin, being alive to God, love now compels us to obedience to His word and to the Spirit of Christ within.

I believe the key to humility lies in accepting our complete and total inadequacies to develop humility on our own. We must sacrifice our pride, including how proud we are of our education and intellect, to Jesus.

 

“Father in heaven, we ask for our eyes to be opened to pride in each of our lives. Pride that so often we’re not even aware is resident within us. Help us to die to self on a daily basis, that we may truly live in and for Christ. Teach us, Lord, to be humble. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.” 

 

Next, we’ll look at “those who mourn” from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and see how this too relates to humility.

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Elusive humility, Hard to be Humble, Jesus, Stuff God Teaches, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor in Spirit

In the spring of 1980, the pop and country artist Mac Davis made a hit song titled “It’s Hard to be Humble.” By the fall, another artist named Stout recorded a version of the song in the U.K. that made the top 20 list there.

 

With a haunting mantra, the song becries “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror—I get better looking each day.”

 

A satirical relief about the laughable male ego, this musical hit touts an exaggerated hubris that we find easy to recognize in each other. The problem is, it’s more difficult to detect in ourselves. When it comes to godly virtues, humility is probably the toughest godly characteristic to achieve and it can be challenging to maintain.

 

As we wade into our continued study of “The Beatitudes with regard to Humility,” You may want to read the introductory post titled: “Humble Pie.”

We’re going to sit down to a big slice of that pie right now, because nearly every good action we take requires some degree of humility. If you’re reading this post with an open mind, you’re demonstrating humility.  Those who are growing in wisdom are keenly aware of the need to hear and assess information, where utilizing humility becomes requisite.

Whenever errors in our thinking are brought into the light, it takes humility to embrace the truth. This is the concept behind that word we’re all so familiar with: repentance. To repent is to undergo renovation in the mind—to change what we believe in a way that impacts a change in our desires. As a result, we turn away from sin and towards God. If we don’t humble ourselves before God, becoming poor in spirit, our minds cannot be changed; our spiritual eyesight will be incarcerated by darkness.

The bible teaches that every person is born under the deceptive powers of sin. But when we’re born of the Spirit, saved, we’re given new eyes and ears to perceive truth, and a new heart that will accept it. God has given us His word to correct our thinking, so that He may inculcate you and I with truth. He gave us His Son Jesus who is truth personified. In Matthew 5: 3, Jesus spoke these words:

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Here, the word Blessed means happy and divinely favored. Sons and daughters of the King must become poor in spirit before being granted citizenship in the “kingdom of heaven.” We are need oriented creatures, dependent upon God. Being poor in spirit is indicative of heaven’s residents.

 What does Jesus mean by Poor in Spirit? 

 It means to humble ourselves, to acquiesce to the truth about mankind’s condition without Christ—the truth that the bible teaches concerning mankind in his unregenerate state.

 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:11-12

Here’s where our understanding of grace is so vital to our new lives in Christ, as well as our knowledge of what it is to be poor in spirit. Everything God does for mankind is a grace of God. He proffers many graces, which perform a plethora functions, gifting us in every aspect of life. Grace is technically defined as unmerited favor.

There’s nothing we can bring to God, nothing we can do for Him, and no good works that mankind could perform that would merit eternal life and curry His favor. We must humbly accept that fact.  Without God doing something for us simply out of His love, mercy and grace, we’re hopelessly lost. Isaiah informs us that to God “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” What may appear as good to you and me in our finite thinking, is pitifully inadequate when contrasted against God’s true goodness.

God is holy, righteous and pure, and we are not. We must come to Him completely broken in spirit and aware of it. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
If you’ve ever been close to a herd of horses running wild, you may have noted how spirited they are, strong and proud. A wild horse is not at all useful for riding or working. Their spirit must be broken before they can be tamed, trained, and their strength put to good use. If we’re going to be of any usefulness to God, our spirit of pride must be broken too. We have to pull back on the reins of our hearts, and realize the truth.

We’re totally helpless to help ourselves become good and holy and righteous. Our self-sufficient thinking must change, be broken, our pride broken, and we come to God completely dependent upon His grace. This is being poor in spirit, cognizant of our complete helplessness. We cannot save ourselves.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9a
For the sake of brevity, I’ll merely point you to a good passage of scripture to read as a follow up to this post. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-14.

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Devotional, God's Kingdom, Jesus, Self Improvement, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes & Humble Pie

A Series on Humility

(Lord willing)

humble

 

Coming to Christ first requires humility: we must acknowledge our need for someone else to save us. But then, each virtue of righteousness, all of the characteristics of a godly life require increasingly greater humility. A problem presents itself, however, for it seems the more we try to be humble, the more prideful we become. What we seek is a humble, servant mindset which Jesus demostrated so poignantly.

 

“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

My assertion is that absolute dependence on God is the only means to successfully obtain any degree of humility. Focusing on Christ: the paragon of all heavenly virtue, self is progressively swallowed up by His glory as we become one with Him. By comparing ourselves vertically to God, we depart from the horizontal and skewed comparison of ourselves to each other, opening a clear view to our personal inadequacies—our need for continuing grace.

 

I’ve discovered a hazardous pitfall in my own walk—one that’s difficult to detect. It’s called false humility. Something I’d done in te past , which, I thought was making me humble, was self-deprecation. I’d put myself down, or launch a bad spin on my actions, talking about the bad stuff I’ve done. But it only produces a false humility—not at all conducive to eliminating a hunger to be noted. While I thought it would be destructive to my pride, it only fed my ego. If we’re honest, we’ll see it’s the same for all of us. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the subject, and found that nearly every great thinker down through history has percieved the importance of this trait and written on the topic of humility.

 

 Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis

 

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

Ralph Emerson Palmer

 

Bryant H. McGill is more stoic, stating “True love is quiescent, except in the nascent moments of true humility”

 

Only by emulating the love of God do we transform into humble servants, which in turn elevates our eternal ranking.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1st Peter 5:6

 

The assorted virtues of Christ-likeness expounded by Jesus in His great manifesto on the mount are all rooted in, and dependent upon a prior condition of humility. Assuming we all agree that the antithesis of humility is pride, we can easily recognize pride to be the primary, or root sin which so deceives mankind in its many forms. Pride hinders our growth in Christ-likeness.

It’s the #1 sin—not merely the first sin perpetrated chronologically, but also the sin which underlies all others. Pride and humility can never coexist in the same arena, that’s why Satan promotes pride in mankind. He knows it to be the root from which springs every form of ungodliness.

 

“Let us carry ourselves as God’s children in humility. ‘Be ye clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). It is a becoming garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground.” Puritan, Thomas Watson

 

Each week I hope to spotlight one heavenly virtue from Matthew 5: 3-10, demonstrating how every righteous trait flows from, and is anchored in, humility.

 

This is one trait that appears to act as a huingepin for developing the godly traits Jesus talks about.

Since humility is the condition of heart and mind every soul must possess, if they hope to approach God and be reconciled to Him through trusting faith, learning to lean on this virtue becomes paramount.

In chronicling the characteristics of citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus seems to demand we presuppose humility as a type of key to all of them. Certainly, if I am to become “poor in spirit” I must first humble myself. Note how essential humility is in becoming what Christ calls us to be.

It will be fruitful for us to disseminate the precondition of humility that’s common to each of the virtues Christ provides. I’ll do so by first defining each characteristic Jesus extols, then by considering examples in the context of current culture, and finally view the whole matter in relationship to ourselves as individuals—making personal application to our hearts.

 

Bring your bibles and join us for the next post as we look at the first virtue found in Matthew 5:3. Please click on notifications and watch for “Poor in Spirit.” 

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Jesus, new nature, Sanctification, Theology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Will For You II

2nd intro: An Inside Track on God’s Plan — Partnering with Christ 

Jesus wants you and I to have an inside track into heaven’s operations here on earth. He wants us to know and understand His plan. You and I are like the soldiersonly, in this army, the top brass invites all soldiers to see and understand a whole lot of the strategy and plan. When I was in the U.S. Army, officers didn’t tell us soldiers anything, except to bark orders at us.  

good life

Christ Jesus affords discernment to know how to walk in the Spirit, which, basically, is obeying/doing God’s will. After our salvation has been obtained, we develop a deep desire to please our Lord. It’s a love relationship. We then secure the requisite changes in who we are, through the step by step training God’s word affordsThe problem is, the bible isn’t always easy to understand, and that’s why we need good bible teachers. The Spirit will confirm our understanding of truth. 

God does mighty works in us, so that He can then do mighty works through our lives. That’s what He wants to do, and that’s a part of His will for each of us.  S.B.

 Image result for lehman strauss

Dr. Lehman Strauss

Even though we’re still in the introduction phase of this series, you’ll note nuggets of truths from the bible that we’ll want to treasure up in our hearts, so we can be mentally prepared to garner the greatest benefit from the much meatier things to come. Milk first, meat later. 

 

ENTRY 

 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21  

Here, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that true salvation always  will result in obedience to the will of God. If we’re to be obedient to God’s will, we certainly must know what His will consists of.  

 

So if we’re not at least seeking God’s will, wanting to know the next step in His plan for us corporately and as individuals, how can we believe we have a close relationship with Him? 

 

It’s important that we’re all on the same page in our understanding of what we mean by “God’s will.” There are different aspects to His will. Each of these facets fit together to form God’s ever unfolding plan from eternity past, which impacts the present, and reveals eternity future. His plan (God’s will) was developed before He created thworld, as we see revealed throughout scripture (e.g., 1st Peter 1:20).  

Sometimes I may interchange the words, God’s “will” with God’s “plan” as well as God’s “purposes.” And let’s not forget the awesome promises He’s made concerning His plan. Here are some of the different aspects of God’s will, each of which will be examined according to their component parts. But we want to focus on numbers 6, 7 & 8. 

 

  1. The redemption of man 
  2. God’s eternal kingdom 
  3. God’s purpose for allowing the existence of wickedness 
  4. God’s promises to us for life on this earth 
  5. God’s promises to us for eternity 
  6. Our transformation into children like Jesus 
  7. The church’s role in His plan on earth today 
  8. Your role as an individual Saint 

 

I’ll be setting forth and expounding scriptures in an attempt to reveal how all of God’s plan fits together. I did not come up with all of this on my own. I’ll be drawing from bible lessons of 27 Doctors of Theology. God has used a plethora of blessed saints to assist my understanding.  It’s important for each of us to find good sound bible teachers whom we can trust. There are lots of them out there who surpass my abilities by leaps and bounds. But God has called me to put this together using my unique way of presenting the truths of His word. Recently I’ve been studying under several dozen leading bible professors who truly walk what they talk. And you can do the same. I highly recommend BBN’s Bible Institute. It’s free!  

BBN Radio

Oh, how I praise God for the collection of Godly men who teach those lessons! What a tremendous blessing it has been to my relationship with Jesus, and also to my comprehension. Out of the 3 dozen or so collection of courses I’ve been through, BBN’s BI is at the top of the list for learnability. The Bible Institute is merely one of many online resources to find trusted conference speakers, seminary professors, bible expositors and wonderful pastors. I myself have been a sub-shepherd under Christ and serving a growing congregation for over 9 years now. I have another pastor over me, and also a chief elder. Thank you, Jesus—I’m so blessed! 

 

Please understand, it’s not my intention to tell you what Christ’s specific will is for your unique service in God’s plan. Each of us must do what is needed for God Himself to show us how we, individually, fit into the overall plan. I will, however, walk you through the steps of how to discover that for yourself.  

 

But the majority of God’s will is universal for all who are saved. Such as His plan for Jesus’ church. It’s God’s will that we all love one another, that we all become more like Jesus, and that we encourage and edify one another. It’s God’s will for every believer to share the gospel with others—He’s going to teach us what to say.  The steps, and acts of obedience, which lead to accomplishing these and many other things, are the same for everyone. But He has a special plan just for you too. It’s highly specific to the talents he’s progrmmed into your DNA. Once we start doing it, WOW! We receive a tremendous sense of purpose and draw great delight from Him.

 

 I heard Dr. Howard Hendricks say: 

 

“Prayer is the hand of faith that translates God’s promises into performances.”  

 

I mention that quote because each action we’ll need to take, and which we’ll be talking about here, is; preceded by prayer, activated by prayer, and performed during prayer. This makes understanding prayer a vital, and valuable parallel study for discerning and doing God’s will. Without communicating with God, we cannot, and will not, know and understand God’s will, nor His plan. 

 

As an example of God’s promises, here’s one you’ve probably heard before. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 

If we’d like to understand how we could possibly have everything our heart desires, this study is for us. This delight in Him, it’s like a secret key. When the way God thinks is delightful to us, He offers more understanding. And when His laws, His holiness and righteousness become delightful to us, our level of wisdom takes a giant leap upward. And since our desires will then be in harmony with His desires, we receive everything we desire. Our desire will be for God’s will to be done. Being united with Christ is very delightful.

Two important points 

  1. God teaches us in increments—bits at a time.  
  2. We will not move forward in understanding, until we’ve been obedient to what He’s already revealed to us (let that sink in). 

 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17 

 Davey2

Dr. Stephan Davey

The way we come to love the will of God is by obeying it—doing it. The result is stupendous joy! and great discernment! We begin to see God’s purposes, even in the really horrible things that happens on planet earth. When we obey (do) God’s will we experience the results—the wisdom of His will. Before we can actually experience God’s will, we must do it. Before we can do His will, we must know what it is. And before we can know what it is, we must trust it. Faith in God, is trust in God and in His infallible, authoritative word: the bible. Each one in succession is a prerequisite for the next. 

 

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.”  

 

 

From these two verses we learn four dynamic truths. As you read each numbered point, go back to the verses and absorb them again.

  1. We must trust God implicitly. 
  2. We cannot trust our own thinking without Him leading our thoughts (I will demonstrate how this is unequivocal, using many clear scriptures). 
  3. Our relationship with God is to impact the way we do anything and everything. We acknowledge Him in every decision we make and every action we take. 
  4. God will show us the way we are to proceed, each and every step of the way. 

 

But there’s a pitfall to watch out for. 

 

It’s in our human nature to become proud of our spiritual knowledge, and pride is always destructive to the human heart. God had revealed so many things to the Apostle Paul to pass on to us, that the Lord allowed Satan to inflict him with a thorn in the flesh, to keep him humble. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes: “…Because of these surpassingly great revelations, therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 

 

That’s very revealing to us. It’s something we need to pay attention to, because pride will also halt our learning—our inculcation of God’s program. Our goal is to remain plugged into His power and wisdom, and continue growing in understanding and doing His will, working in partnership with Christ Jesus. 

Yes, we will make mistakes and come unplugged every once in a while, but we simply confess our sin, He forgives us, and we move on a little wiser than beforeGod often uses our mistakes to teach us, and to keep us dependent upon His grace, driving us to cling that much more tightly to our Savior. We’ll endure hardshiplearn and grow. There’s nothing easy about walking in the Spirit, obeying God. But doing so is the best that life has to offer. He’s going to empower us to succeed!  

 

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 

“…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:21 

 

We’ve now had the two part introduction and laid the groundwork, offering some of what this series will entail, but we’ve barely spoken of the dynamic and wonderful benefits of walking with Jesus, partnering with God.

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, Faith, God's Kingdom, God's Will, Leadership, Salvation, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Professor Proudy Pants

pride

Everyone loves a good educator—unless of course they happen to be unedifying and overly didactic all the time, even towards the waitress when ordering at a restaurant. “If you cook the veggies in such-and-such a way they will retain more of their nutrients.”(I may be guilty of that particular one myself). It seems that the chances of falling victim to foolish pride increases with the number of years one attends formal schooling.

In my sophomore year of high school I took “Electricity” as an elective course. The teacher was a brilliant electrician, but he did not have the capacity to teach. He wasn’t even capable of teaching someone how to tie their shoes. Having knowledge is one thing, but knowing how to convey that information to others is an entirely different matter. Over half of the class received an “F”, including myself. One fellow made an “A”, but his father was an electrician and had already taught him the trade. My apologies in advance, but I can’t help but convey to you this teacher’s name, because there is such irony in the fact that it too began with an “F”—Mr. Fink. That was really his name—I’m not making this up!

But again there is irony here because I actually did learn something from Mr. Fink: One way to not teach. His problem was that he was too far above everyone else to know how to teach it to us in a language we could understand. The man’s frustration caused his anger to flare up often.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m focusing on one pandemic problem that keeps any person from being able to convince, explain and teach what they know to others. It, of course is having pride in how smart we are. When we become proud in this area we will not even realize that we are communicating that fact to others. In their minds it sounds like we calling them stupid and proclaiming ourselves to be geniuses.

Prideful teachers usually already know all they ever will, because their horse is too tall for them to dismount and study the ground any further. They feel no need to dismount because they already know all about what’s down there, even when they don’t. To think another person, especially one with a lesser degree on the wall has anything of import they could pass along to them, well that would just be ludicrous. Even though they may never say that outright, that’s the way they make people feel.

It is for this very reason that some Christians make extremely poor evangelists. We can have not only an intellectual pride from what God has taught us, but we also could develop a feeling of spiritual superiority. We know our doctrine and have studied our bibles extensively. Perhaps we have been a Christian for a very long time. We have Doctorates in Theology for goodness sakes!—or, we’ve been teaching the bible for many years. I’m feeling the heat in this next one. We have a PhD from the Holy Spirit, just like some of the early disciples had.

I’ll never forget the time the Spirit taught me some fairly deep theology through an atheist. Well…if the water wasn’t deep at least he cleared up the muddiness a bit. I’m certain it was a lesson the Lord wanted me to learn well.

“I can use anyone as an instrument to teach you, pay attention.”—God

It’s odd how the more educated one becomes the more they seem to forget some of their common sense stuff and social etiquette. So here’s a checklist for us to use before witnessing to someone else, or teaching a class, or writing a post for that matter.

  1. Never stop being a good listener.
  2. Always be open to learning something new.
  3. God can use anyone to speak through!
  4. Try to learn the feelings that lie behind the other person’s beliefs. (There’s usually some past pain that shapes their thinking)
  5. Empathize with them, love them, and then lead by example.

Yes, pride of intellect can often play a huge role in skewing our testimonies. Pride causes us to not truly hear others. But it can also cause us to unknowingly give off signals that automatically switch our hearer’s ears and hearts to the off position. A very old adage fits this situation well: “They won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

So let’s save the lectures for the classroom. Let’s actually feel what they are saying, and learn where their understanding and thinking is at. Let’s make room for their past experiences and care about their feelings. Let’s find some common ground and agree on that first. Then maybe buy them a coffee, and wait for the Spirit to show us an opening to love them into the truth.

FYI: When sharing the good news of Jesus a person must first know what the bad news is. They must first understand that we are all sinners and that the penalty is death, eternal separation from God. Then, the good news will sound as good as it truly is! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16


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