After I had finished writing for the Internet and speaking about my article on Integrity, I wondered what the Lord would have me write about next. During the reading of Christian books, my Bible, Christian articles, watching and listening to sermons on the Internet, the Lord just didn’t seem to have anything jump out or stand up for me to write about. But sometimes this isn’t unusual. I would like to state here that most of my material for this article was gleaned from these sources of information that I have mentioned as well as my own input.
A while back I was wondering if my work at studying, writing and speaking was making any difference at all to anyone. I was asking my son John to record CD’s and make copies of my talks and was sending and giving them to different relatives and friends, besides putting them on the Internet. I couldn’t tell if I was making any difference at all because of hardly any kind of feedback. My prayer has always been that I receive no praise for any of my speaking or writing what the Lord has given me to do. I always want people to know about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I always want Him to get all of the praise and glory. But I believe that the Lord knew what I was feeling in my heart, and suddenly a few people stopped me at church and told me how much they had enjoyed hearing and reading about what the Lord had me say and write about. I even got a card in the mail, as well as a phone call encouraging me. People would ask me or my wife if I was working and studying for anything else. My relatives would always tell her to be sure to send them any new copies we might have. I had a fellow tell me one day he was called on to do a Sunday evening service during their revival and that he had used my material, and asked if I cared. I called him by name and said that’s the Lords material, use all you want, if it causes one person to think about or accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior then all our effort has been worth the study and work.
I often think about all of the preachers, pastors and priests that work and study so hard each week in preparing sermons or lessons about the Lord and scriptures. And time after time have no one respond physically or spiritually to God’s call, or even tell him or her how much the sermon or lesson meant to them spiritually helping them in their walk with the Lord.
Reading Billy Grahams book “ The Holy Spirit” he tells of a Reverend James R. Graham, Sr. A pioneer missionary to China, who had proclaimed the gospel for three years without seeing results. When asked if he ever became discouraged, he replied, “No The Battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver it into our hands”. Billy Graham also writes, that no where do the scriptures tell us to seek results, nor do the scriptures rebuke preachers or evangelists if the results are meager. Because men and women do make decisions when ever the gospel is proclaimed, whether publicly or privately, some say yes and some say no, and some procrastinate. No one ever hears the gospel proclaimed without making some kind of decision.
I remember as a young man in my early years attending the Wellsburg Free Methodist Church, whenever I took part in any service or would give a short five minute talk, I was always encouraged by some of the older saints such as Rex Ross, Charles Lewellyn, Wes Cusick and Flo Goodall just to name a few. It taught me how important it is to encourage our young people and others also who give of their talents and time to the Lord. I found that this also applied to work and other situations of life. A little encouragement goes a long way. The other day I was talking with a man and I told him what a fine job he was doing. He seemed stunned and said gee, I have never had anyone tell me that, and it really means a lot to hear it from you. I want to thank you.
But now back to my subject for this writing. As I said before I needed a topic or subject to work on, and so I once again ask my wife Laura Lee if she had something that she would like for me to study and write about. Without hesitation she said pride, so there it was my one word title again. But it didn’t take long to find out that you couldn’t talk or write about pride without talking about honesty or humility, and even my last topic of Integrity that kept appearing
During my studies I found that there is Good pride and then there is Bad pride, of which the Bible speaks much about. Over the past weeks while doing a good deal of reading about the sin of pride, the more I read the more disturbed and unsettled I’ve become. The more I studied about pride the more I’ve understood the warning that’s found in Paul’s words in Hebrews 12 : 1 where he talks about the sin that so easily entangles us, this deadly sin is the sin of pride.
Before we know it we find ourselves neck-deep in it. It’s that dangerous. Its like a pesky weed that sprouts up when we least expect it. David Rhodes says,” Pride is the dandelion of the soul. It’s roots go deep, only a little needs left behind and it can sprout again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest encouraging cracks. It flourishes in good soil. The danger of pride is that if feeds on goodness. Bad pride is conceit, and egotism. We saw that Nebuchadnezzars pride began in contentment and prosperity. John makes it clear that anything that produces the pride of life can be defined as anything that is of this world, meaning anything that leads to arrogance, ostentatious, preoccupation with pride in self, presumptive and boasting.
I had to ask myself what the Bible said about pride? You see there is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates in (Proverbs 8:13) and the kind of pride that stems from self righteousness is sin, and God hates it because it is a hindrance to seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God. “In his pride the wicked does not seek him. In all his thoughts there is no room for God.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” are those who recognize their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their inability to come to God aside from their divine grace. The proud, on the other hand, are so blinded by their pride that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance.
Throughout the scripture we are told about the consequences of pride. Proverbs 16:18-19 tells us that pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. It’s better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. Jeremiah 9 : 23-24 Says it all. Sin of pride is the Sin of Sins. It was this sin, we’re told which transformed Lucifer, an anointed Cherub of God . The very seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty into Satan the devil, the father of lies, the one whom Hell itself was created. We’re warned to guard our hearts against pride lest we too fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Satan was cast out of heaven because of pride. (Isaiah 14:12-15) He had the selfish audacity to replace God himself as the rightful ruler of the universe. But Satan will be cast down to hell in the final judgment of God. For those who rise up in defiance against God, there is nothing but disaster. (Isaiah 14:22) And remember it was the sin of pride that led Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.
Pride has kept many people from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Admitting sin and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a constant stumbling block for prideful people. We are not to boast about ourselves: If we want to boast, then we are to proclaim the glories of God. What we say about ourselves means nothing in God’s work. It is what God says about us that makes a difference, ( 2 Corinthians 10:13)
You might ask why pride is so sinful? Because pride is giving ourselves the credit for something that God has accomplished. Pride is essentially self worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? ( 1 Corinthians 4:7) That is why we give God the glory - He alone deserves it. The sin of pride is a preoccupation with self. It is fitting that the middle letter in sin is I. Pride is all about me. Pride is when we feel good about what we do, it gets bad when we use it to laud over others. Good pride is seen in healthy self respect, dignity and honesty. But the other kind of bad pride is conceit ,egotism and a means to act arrogantly, think of how arrogance blinds us. Pride blinds us to our fragility, and our frailty. Pride leads us to think we are a cut above everyone else, impervious to all the things that collapse and crumble those whom we deem less than us.
Having detected the pride that leaves people foolishly thinking themselves to be physically invulnerable, we appear unaware of the pride that leaves us on the edge of spiritual collapse. There is nothing that pride does not corrupt, and corrupts thoroughly.Pride is a deadly virus that will eat away at us emotionally and spiritually. It is a great deceiver. Pride has destroyed more marriages and churches than any other thing. Pride affects our worship when we try to impress God or others with goodness. God is no respecter of persons. We must be careful not to take on the attitude of the Pharisees in the temple.
Being active in the service of God is a privilege. God loves us and wants to use us in His service, but He doesn’t need us. If we walk away from His service today, He will raise up others to take our place.
Psalms 101-5 says we cannot worship God with a spirit of pride. Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence, whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. (Put up with)
Pride will affect our view of life “ and let us make a name.” Every person who has attempted to be a world ruler has been defeated. From Nimrod to Nebuchadnezzar to Hitler to Stalin and even the Anti-Christ in end times. Destruction and Judgment from God is promised to the one with this attitude. We sometimes take credit for things that we shouldn’t. Its like the beaver told the rabbit as they stared up at the immense wall of Hoover Dam. “No I didn’t actually build it myself. But it was based on an idea of mine.Pride will result in the very thing we want to avoid.Pride will cause a great deal of envy and division. Every affair starts because someone thinks they deserve a better spouse than they have.Paul speaks about pride we should have in ourselves and others in (2 Cor.5:12, 7:4, 8: 24, Gal.6: 4.)
The word pride in the scriptures is more frequently used to refer to a very negative character trait that can be described as arrogant, conceited and haughty.
The Greek and Roman culture had a particular aversion to it, stigmatizing pride as hubris and making virtually all their literary tragedies a variation on the theme of the self destructiive effects of pride and its offensiveness to the gods.
In the Bible, likewise, such pride brings disgrace (Prov. 11: 2), breads quarrels (Prov. 13:10), goes before destruction (Prov.16:18) and brings humiliation (Prov. 29:33).
So What Is The Answer Then? Good pride is displayed in 2 chronicles 17:6 when Jehoshophat took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.
Proverbs 11:2 tells us that when pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.Proverbs 29:23 says a mans pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.Quoting the book of James 4:6-9. Therefore it says God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.James 4:10 tells us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.Humility is necessary for salvation. No one has been saved by demanding that God let them into Heaven. NO ONE.Humility can overcome any obstacle.
Since pride is so destructive - since it can so easily entangle us - it would behoove us to learn to recognize it. So how can we? I mean, how do we know if we are slipping into the grasp of sin? To help you answer that question, here are some common symptoms that are found in prideful people.
1. Spotty prayer life - This suggests that we don’t actively rely on God because we proudly think we can do it on our own without His help, which leads to a second symptom.
2. Weariness - the inevitable result of pridefully trying to do it all on our own strength.
3. Anger - Can indicate that we are not trusting God’s sovereign plan and timing and are upset when things don’t go our way and they never do when we ignore God’s guidance.
4. A critical spirit is often found in prideful people - you see, the act of bringing others down especially when we do this to lift up ourselves points to an inflated sense of self.
5. Taking responsibility for success, accomplishment, or financial prosperity - this may mean we have lost sight of God’s graciousness and undeserved provision.
6. Impatience about having to listen, wait, serve, be anonymous, or be led by someone else also hints at an overdeveloped sense of importance of pride.
7. Another symptom of pride is stubbornness. Proverbs 29:1 refers to this by saying , ”One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.“ You see stubbornness can be a form of pride - that causes us to shun needed correction. It renders us unable to defend ourselves. When someone points out an error or flaw, we evade or deny or blame someone else. What about it? Do you find it difficult to admit wrong? Is it hard for your lips to say those three words, “I was wrong”. If the answer is yes, then there’s a good chance pride has you ensnared in its deadly grip.1 Peter 5:5 says that all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Pride is listed first on God’s list of sins that God hates most, because He knows that, like all sin, pride hurts us because it opens the door to other sins. It prevents growth, poisons relationships, it makes a growing relationship with Him impossible. To defeat pride we must learn NOT to take ourselves to seriously and secondly DO take the needs of others seriously. In other words, embrace the opposite of pride, embrace humility and put the needs of other people above your own . Humble people are not door mats and people with self esteem problems. They are people that have been empowered by God to love their neighbors the way they love themselves. They do not have inferiority complexes. To the contrary, they are secure in who God made them. Pride is the mark of emotionally insecure people.
Some Christians are only content if they get their own way. But harmony flourishes in the church when each prefers the other over himself. Romans 12 : 10 tells us to be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another. 1st Peter 3 :8 tells us finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren. Be pitiful, be courteous and humble.
In your prayer time ask the Lord to open our eyes now – even if it causes us discomfort or pain. So that we can see any instances in which we have allowed pride to take root and grow. We ask that you would oppose it in us, convict us of our need to completely reject it. Help us to truly Humble ourselves in your sight. Show us the changes we need to make in life to turn from pride, and show us the decisions we need to make in order to humbly align ourselves with His will. HONESTY Since honesty has a lot to do with pride, I want to take just a few minutes to touch on honesty and dishonesty. Dishonesty is part of our culture, It is a spiritual struggle, it results in skepticism, distrust, and pain. The biggest contributor to dishonesty is fear. Adults should seek to set a good example, communicate the power of lies and teach kids, you lie you lose.
A USA poll found that only 56% of Americans teach honesty to their children. And a Louis Harris poll turned up the distressing fact that 65% of high school students would cheat on an important exam. Recently a noted physician appeared on a net work news and talk show and proclaimed “Lying is an important part of social life, and children who are unable to do it are children who may have developmental problems. Another poll found that 36% said they would cover for a friend who vandalized school property, while only 24% would tell the truth. Five percent would steal money from their parents if given the opportunity.
I can hardly think of the word honesty without thinking of my dad. He would not tolerate not being honest. My brother and I learned very early in life that you just didn’t lie to him. He knew that, and while growing up when we were accused of something, dad knew all he had to do was ask us and he would get the truth. There were times in our young lives, because of where we lived, that we had been accused of doing some things that we weren’t guilty of. Dad would ask us, and if we did or didn’t do it we knew to tell him the truth. Most times before the accusers, school principle and once the police. When he heard that the police were at our house looking for us, he ask us and then took us to the police station and ask if they were looking for us? Dad defended us to the police, and it so happened that we weren’t even home that day we had been with him. But Dad would defend us and always counted on us telling him the truth. Dad didn’t cater to people who lied or told half truths or wouldn’t work. He didn’t care for laziness either. While growing up I would occasionally tell someone my name and they would say oh yes your Bruce Cooks boy, then proceed to tell me how honest he was about paying all his bills from the great depression, something that very few did or were able to do. And what ever he promised he did. This man had been a store owner during the Great Depression. I could talk all evening about my dad, because he was my father, my friend, my mentor and my idol, a man I always wanted to be like.
Not that my brother and I didn’t get our share of whippings, or as they called them down in Hoopie, or south of the Mason Dixon Line, whoopins. But we always deserved them. Except one night some of us boys were playing in the neighborhood and a boy had a new cigarette and ask me if I had a match, I told him I didn’t, but at that time a fellow sitting on a porch flipped his cigarette butt onto the side walk. I ran over and picked it up and told him I had a light for him. As I was holding the cigarette against his, my dad and mother got off of the street car or bus I can’t remember which it was. When dad saw me he pointed his finger at me and said you got a whooping coming. Well I expected it when I got home, but nothing happened. A day went by, then another and another. So I thought that maybe he had forgotten about it but that was my mistake, he was giving me a lot of time to think about it. Finally justice was served and I got my whooping. But I was smoking at that early age and I did deserve the punishment.
Proverbs 12 :22 tells us that the Lord detests lying lips - He delights in truth. Getting rid of deception is a process. Lying is so natural, so all consuming, that we must have the Holy spirit reveal how greatly entrenched it is in our lives. Paul said that he didn’t come to the Corinthians with eloquent words, but with the demonstration of power. I don’t believe you can persuade someone to be truthful, they have to be confronted with the truth. The revelation of God’s glory and holiness dispels deception and reveals our sinfulness. I remember the instance in Acts 5 : 3-5, the story of Ananias and Sapphira when they lied about their gift to the church. Peter said two things, Satan had filled their hearts, and they had lied to the Holy Spirit. As a result they dropped dead.
There was an illustration on one of the Internet sermons I liked. It says a great preacher was speaking in Nashville, Tenn. The next day he took a city bus, giving the driver a dollar bill, he sat down and looked at his change. He had a dime too much. At first he thought it trivial. He knew the bus company would never miss that dime. Then he realized that wasn’t honest and approached the driver. “You accidentally gave me to much change.” It was no accident, he replied. I was in church yesterday when you preached thou shalt not steal --- I just wanted to make sure you really believed it.
There are times when God makes us tell the truth - When He exposesus. Isn’t it better when nothing like that happens. Instead of being exposed you confess. To me that’s one of the most beautiful things that can happen.
So lets all walk in holiness, in brotherly love, and in honesty. In the home, the church, and in the workplace. 24 hours a day walking with God.
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