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The Pride of Humility. Part 1

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The Pride of Humility, Part 1

Matthew 18:1-5

Andrew R. Rappaport

Introduction

·         In the last few messages we have looked at a picture of God.  God's holiness showed us how unlike God we are.  It reveals that God is so much greater than we are.  Next, we saw God's justice and that He rightly judges and does not accept our justification of our sins.  Lastly, we show God's love.  He loves us with an eternal love and as such we should love one another.  Now we bring this all together for Matthew 18 and begin with a discussion on pride and humility.

·         Jesus' ministry is coming to a close and He is trying to provide final instructions before He departs this earth.  Jesus is informing the disciples on how to administrate the church that He will establish after His death.  Jesus is starting to transition their thinking about the kingdom of God and the plan of God for His people on Earth.  He needs to transition them from their selfish thinking of who would be greatest in the kingdom of God to be leaders of the body of Christ.

·         The disciples argued specifically over who would be the greatest at least three times as recorded in Scripture (Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24).

Transition:    

I.             Pride in Yourself

·         In our society, pride is almost always considered an admirable trait.  Is seen as a positive, commendable thing.  Instead of warring against it, our society actually promotes pride.  It is increasingly apparent that our world has lost touch with the idea that pride can be very destructive and evil thing.  Unfortunately,  Unfortunately, this is often true in the body of Christ as well.

·         When we slander other people, it is usually because of our pride.  Putting others down, we think, makes us look better.

·         In the center of pride is the same thing as in the center of sin; I.

·         As a sin, pride is unique.  Most sins turn us away from God, but pride is a direct attack upon God.  It enlists our hearts above him and against him.  Pride seeks to dethrone God and in throne itself.

·         Pride is complex.  Jonathan Edwards wrote, "it takes many forms and shapes and compass is the heart like the layers of an onion-when you pull off one layer, there is another underneath".

·         Pride often wants to be seen by others, it manifests itself before other people by being selfishly ambitious and greedy for honor and being ostentatious, even practicing righteousness for the sake of being noticed by others.

·         A godly person fights pride, where as the worldly person feeds pride.

·         Pride consists in attributing to ourselves and demanding for ourselves the honor, privileges, prerogatives, rights and power that are due to God alone.  Thus, it is the very root and essence of sin because pride, at its core, is idolatry of self.  A proud person has put himself or herself in God's place.

·         In regard to view of oneself, pride makes self focus.  Proud people look about their needs, their wants and their reputations.  They expect praise from others and they are blind to their own faults.  They are easily offended.

·         In regard to a view of other people, pride refuses to admit mistakes and never asks to be forgiven.  Proud people do not submit to authority; they are disrespectful, slanderous and rebellious.  They blame others and justify themselves.  They reject correction or instruction and they do not listen well.  As they are self-serving and expect to be served by others.  Essentially, proud people have a distorted view of reality; they delude themselves into thinking that they are superior to other people and that they understand other peoples thoughts and motives.  They trivialize the bad things they have done to others and exaggerate what others have done to them.

Transition:     Where our society says, that pride should be upheld and even honored; God says that there are consequences of pride.

II.           The Consequences of Pride

·         One of the consequences of pride is an uncontrolled tongue that lashes out at others.  Proud people hurt other people because they are slanderous, gossiping, quarrelsome and divisive.  The alienate people and destroy relationships.  Another consequence of pride is being unteachable.  Proud people are stubborn and therefore they remain spiritually immature.  Pride leads to dishonesty and inconsistency.  Proud people cannot be trusted because they do not value the commitments they have made to others.  Ultimately, pride robs people of joy, peace and usefulness for Christ.

·         A very prideful preacher preached a message on humility and was upset that people were not mindful of the message.  Why were they not attentive?  Because the messenger corrupted the message.  The message may be good, but the messenger must live it out.  If any believe me not to be a humble man, then this message, as good as it may be, will be ignored because they will say, "physician heal thyself" and that I should practice what I preach.  I wish to be more humble.

·         Illustration: bats – if one does not share that one is cut off from the rest and left to his own.

Transition:     Pride takes many forms.

III.          The Forms of Pride

·         One form of pride is when we believe we know what we cannot know.  This is when we think we know absolutely the motivations of another or what is inside someone's head.  We believe that we fully understand their motivation in their thinking without them sharing, or even more so they say the opposite is true.  We can believe something about someone to the extent that in her own mind we believe it to be true even though it is our own perception.

Illustration: There was a man who worked on railroad cars for a living.  Because it was one of the crewmen's birthday the supervisor gave them all a couple hours off early.  This one particular man happened to stay at work not realizing that everyone gone off early and left.  When he realized the time he went to leave the railroad car only to realize that he was locked inside.  He started to panic and bang on the door kick and scream until he had no voice left.  He banged on the door and those hands were bloody. 

As he started to shiver he found a piece of cardboard and a pen.  He realize this may be the last few hours he had left on Earth and thought he should leave a memoir behind.  He started to write about his experience of the past few hours being trapped inside the car.  He explained how he was shivering in the cold was overtaking him.  His hands would shake as you try to write and he dropped the pen a couple of times.  He tried doing jumping jacks and push-ups to get the blood flowing but the called just seemed to overpower him.

In the morning when the men came to work they open the railroad car.  There they found the man in the corner frozen to death.  The piece of cardboard was by his side.  They read his note and saw the ordeal that he went through the night before.  The autopsy report validates that the man did indeed freeze to death.  However what confused everyone was at the railroad car the man was stuck in was broken!  The temperature never dropped below are at 55° to 60°.  The man's thought became his reality!

This is what can happen with people especially people who have known each other for a very long time.  They tend to believe that they understand what one is thinking or what motivates someone, based on history.  Parents do this for children all the time.  But you know this is a form of pride?  Do you not know that God is still working in the heart of every believer?  As Christians we must understand that people are growing. 

We all have a tendency to think of people the way they were when we first met them.  And many times you don't take into account that they are growing and maturing.  This is often the reason why a child that grows up in the church can stay home and go to college, get a job and all the while remain in the same church and that child, even though now an adult is still seen as a child.  Where that same person can go off to college and be away from the church for four years and return, and because of the time gap people see them as an adult.

This is a problem we have in his congregation.  We have many people who have known each other for a very long time.  On many occasions I have heard more than just a few tell me that they know someone, they know what is in their thoughts because they have known them so long.

We must always be remembering that God is working on each one of us and we must make the conscious decision to be evaluating who one another is today and not who they were some years ago.  It is a form of spiritual pride to think that we may know what someone is thinking is motivated by because we have known them longer.

·         Another form of spiritual prideAnother form of pride is perfectionism, the thought that we cannot allow anyone to see us sin or know that we sin, this is something that pastors and leaders are most susceptible to.  Scripture is very clear that a pastor or deacon must be blameless and above reproach (1 Timothy 3; Titus 2).  However, it does not say that they should be perfect.  But I know many who believe that it would be wrong to let the congregation see them in failure.  This can be devastating to a congregation.  There are two major problems with this form of spiritual pride.

First, they live this lifestyle where they believe that no one can see them fail.  And often what ends up happening is that when they are caught in a sin, they lie will try to cover it up.  And unfortunately for many, if that does not work they will go so far as to start twisting the Scriptures to justify what they have done.  And if that does not work to convince the accuser that the person has done no wrong even though they have, in many unfortunately resorts to attacking the person looking to correct them and help them to grow.  So the problem here is that in the end the helper becomes accused and the accuser is not helped!

The second major problem with this is that it is just wrong, period.  We are human and we do sin and we cannot act as if we do not.  To try to deceive ourselves or others into believing that we do not sin or do not have faults is just simply pride.  All of us struggle with pride. 

I do as well.  And one of the reasons that I do not try to cover up or hide my sin is because it will hinder my growth.  Many of you have come confronted me on different things and you have seen that when corrected I will attempt to ask forgiveness, to bring reconciliation and to do what I can to restore relationships.  Am I perfect?  No, I am not.  However, when I am corrected whether it is privately or publicly, I try to seek the biblical way of handling. 

Now I believe for those church leaders who choose not to follow the biblical pattern rob the body of Christ from an example of humility that God would desire of us.  For what more would Christ want from us than to be humble like Himself.  We should be willing to ask for forgiveness from one another and seek it from one another because Christ has ready for given us so much more.

·         There is another form of pride is the pride of a false humility.  We all struggle with pride.  We must force ourselves to be humble, though it is only God who can make us humble.  Humility does not come naturally it is a work of the Holy Spirit.  And yet we end up saying that there is a pride of humility.

Illustration: I remember a time when I had to do a difficult counseling session.  I was in someone's house who had become very bitter toward all the members of the leadership.  And it was my task to go and talk with him and see if we could address the issues and work things out.  I remember listening to him justify his sin, tell lies and bad mouth every single member of the leadership, including myself.  At the time I thought I handled it well.  I listened to what he had to say I did not try to justify myself or anyone else in the leadership.  I remember when I went back to pastor explained how things went, and I thought I had been very humble in the way I had dealt with it.  I'd commented about how humble I thought I was during the counseling session.  His response to me was, "well you may have been then but you certainly aren't now".  We may try to be humble, and we should be, but once we become prideful of our humility we have lost the humility and become proud.

·         Illustration: a certain man was given a pin by his church for being the most humble man in the church.  Well, the following Sunday he proudly wore his humble pin to church to remind everyone of how humble he was.  He was so proud that he wanted to display it openly to others.  As a result, the church rightly decided to take away his pain from him.  The point of the story?  Humility is like this.  As soon as we think we are humble, we are not; as soon as we think we have it, we have lost.

·         Illustration: this is like the man who had listed 13 character traits in his life that he really felt he needed to work on.  He started with pride.  After working on his pride for a month we moved on to the next sin that he felt he needed to deal with.  And he did this for one month for each of his character traits that he chose to work on.  And the 13th month pay came to the issue of humility.  After a month of working on humility he became very proud of himself having conquered each of these traits.  Only to realize that he must now start back over with the issue of pride.

·         Another form of pride is putting your own agenda before the will of God (James 4:13-17, especially v. 16).  This can be seen very often with young people were people who are new believers and are rushed into positions of leadership, usually based on their natural ability not spiritual ability.  You see this often with people who have a very charismatic personality and a just become Christians and their rushed off to Bible college or seminary or rushed into leadership.  They come with all these grandiose ideas of how to grow a church and setting an agenda for God's will.  However, they haven't learned how to sit under the hand of God and learn how to be a member of the church first.  They want the lead it.  They have all kinds of agendas and plans but they have no knowledge how to sit and listen to God.

They often rest upon their position as a leader that they have the right to set the plan for the church and to determine God's will.  And even when their agendas outside of God's will they will even fight for their own agenda.  And this is a form of pride.  Do we set our own agenda, our own plan, to push without determining God's will?

Proud people demand answers, as Job did.  Proud people refuse to trust in God's sovereignty unless they can make sense of it themselves.  Proud people do not want to admit that there are many things that only God can answer.  They want to be the source of all the answers and plans.  In this often leads them outside of God's will.

In pride, men demand that God explain the mysteries of His providence and are upset with God if He does not.  They are not willing to believe that God has a right to treasure up His bright designs, but rather they insist that God must make their bright designs known an understandable to them when and how they choose.  The proud man does judge the Lord by feeble sense and will not trust Him for His grace.  The proud man takes it upon himself to interpret what God is doing and will not allow God to be his own interpreter at such a time and in such a way as He chooses.

·         A proud person may become discouraged and bored by menial tasks because they think they deserve to be doing something greater.

·         Another form of spiritual pride is judgementalism.  We often see this with people who become Christians but never grow.  They sit in the church and take up the pew for many, many years, where they should be teachers and understanding the things of God they are still stuck not understanding the basics of Christianity (Hebrews 5:12-14).  They end up focusing on others in the church instead of God.  Often because they have drawn away from their own devotions to our Lord and Savior and replace it with a focus on how the church is run or who is doing what in the church.  Because they have pulled away from their personal time with Christ, they start to focus on others in place of Christ.  It usually is nothing more than a matter of time before these types of people start to judge others.  They tend to think that they have all the answers.  And it is sad to see someone who may have been a Christian for decades to come believe so strongly that they know what is right for everyone else in the church and even when confronted with clear Scripture will deny it preferring their own ignorance and pride.

Proud people are critical and do not give honor to anyone, even God.  They are not thankful to others when they receive something because they assume that they deserve what they get.  Proverbs 30:15-16 describes these kinds of people as being like leeches, death and fire: they are never satisfied.  They always want more and they always assume that they are entitled to more.  Pride says, "I deserve the best".They live this lifestyle where they believe no one can see them fail

They believe they must live a lifestyle and such that no one

Transition:     Pride causes us to overlook our sins and to think more highly of ourselves than we or.  It is so foolish for us to have an inflated, exalted opinion of ourselves, when we look and compare ourselves to Christ and what he has done.

IV.         The Foolishness of Pride

·         First, it is foolish for us to be proud about ourselves because of God's attitude toward the proud person.  Pride is self-idolatry.  God says to Isaiah, "my glory I will not give to another" (Isaiah 48:11)).  God will not tolerate a usurper who attempts to rise above Him.  God hates pride because the proud man sets himself up in opposition to God.  The proud man attempts to steal the glory that God alone deserves.  If we are truly believers, we will instead wage war against pride because we understand what Scripture says about God's attitude toward the proud person.

·         Second, it is foolish for us to be proud about ourselves because God is the source of everything we are and have.   We have no reason apart from Christ to be proud.  When we become prideful we are displaying our ignorance; we are showing everyone just how little we really know.  We are forgetting our natural insignificance. 

People are often proud when they have some sort of power.  This is the reason why the Bible states that a new believer or novice should not be a pastor or a deacon.  The lesson of King Nebuchadnezzar's life in Daniel chapter 5 is that any positional prestige that we have gained is from the hand of God and He could very easily be taken away at an instant if He so chose. 

People are often proud about their talents and abilities.  We have no reason to be proud about our talents and abilities, because everything we have is a gift from God (John 3:27).  Could we imagine a person on life support becoming proud and boasting about how well they are breathing?  We might answer, "okay, I am glad you are breathing, but do not you see?  You are breathing only because you are hooked up to this machine".  Everything we have is from God, even our breath.  We are completely dependent upon Him.  It is amazing how insidious a sin pride is, that we can even become proud about our spiritual gifts or natural talents that we receive from God.

·         When we become prideful, not only are we showing that we are ignorant in reference to our natural and moral insignificance, but we are also showing our ignorance of our spiritual condition.  We will never appreciate the magnificence of what God has done for us and our salvation until we understand what the Bible says about us before our salvation.  It is foolishness to not understand or remember what we were like before Christ.

Before God saved us, our minds were opposed to God.  Romans 3:18 says of unbelievers, "there is no fear of God before their eyes".  In other words, unbelievers do not think of God rightly. 

Before we were saved, we had little regard for God.  He was small and contemptible our eyes.  We do not fear Him.  We valued our friends’ opinions of us and were much more afraid of offending them and we were displeasing the God who made us.  This is especially true for some of our teenagers.

Before God saved us, our desires were opposed to God.  Ephesians 2:3 explains, "among them we to all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh".  We do not desire God.  Thinking about God and His attributes was a chore to us; instead, we desired to do evil.

Before God saved us, our wills were opposed to God.  Unsaved people do not love God; they hate Him.  Romans 3:10-11 says, "there is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God".

Before God saved us, our behavior was opposed to God.  Paul wrote in Colossians 1:21 that "you were formally alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds".  As unbelievers, we are actively warring against God by disobeying His commands and attempting to dethrone Him.

Before God saved us, our worship was opposed to God.  When a person worships anyone other than the true God, he is setting himself as God's enemy.  Even our best deeds were filthy rags in His site, polluted by sin.  How foolish it is for us to become proud of ourselves when, apart from Christ, there was nothing good in us.  It would be like a small child bragging about the message is made in his diaper.

·         Proud people have an un-biblical view of sin and on biblical view of themselves.  Is foolish to become proud because we have nothing to be proud about apart from Jesus Christ.  Any physical or spiritual blessing that we enjoy are directly from God's hand; the only thing we can claim as our own is our sin.

·         Third, it is foolish for us to become proud about ourselves because of what pride produces.

o   Pride causes us to forget God (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

o   Pride causes us to make poor decisions (2 Kings 14; Proverbs 14:16)

o   Pride causes us to act in wicked ways (2 Chronicles 26:15-16)

o   Pride produces and gratitude (2 Chronicles 32:24-25)

o   Pride causes us to sin in our speech (Psalm 31:18)

o   Pride causes us to close our ears to God's Word and to lead and on our own understanding (Jeremiah 13:9-10)

·         The list of things that pride produces could go on, but we might also consider the list of things that pride prevents.

o   Pride keeps us from praying

o   Pride keeps us from reading God's Word

o   Pride keeps us from receiving life-giving rebuke

o   Pride keeps us from seeing our own sin

o   Pride keeps us from repenting

o   Pride from truly listening to others

o   Pride keeps us from developing deep and meaningful relationships

o   Pride keeps us from being truly useful in the kingdom of God

·         Fourth, it is foolish for us to be proud because of what the Bible reveals are the consequences of pride.  The Scripture warns us that some people will distort true doctrine and even make up their own for the sake of their pride.  The Scripture makes it very clear that people will be punished in the end.  We may think we are something for a little while on this earth.  We may even deceive a few others into believing it also, though we will never fool God.  A day is coming when the proud will stand before God and be humiliated and the humble stand before God and be exalted.  If we choose to be proud, we are playing with fire and will suffer the consequences.  Scriptures make it very clear that a day is coming when God will humble everyone who is proud.

·         Fifth, it is foolish for us to be proud because pride is a characteristic of the wicked, not the righteous.  Pride is not just a mistake or a character flaw; it is sin.

·         Sixth, it is foolishness for us to be proud because of how Jesus Christ humbled Himself (Hebrews 1:3-12; Philippians 2:5-11).  Jesus emptied himself, took the nature of a servant and was obedient to the Father by allowing Himself to be crucified for our sins.  The God of all became the servant of all.  If Christ, who was perfect, voluntarily humbled Himself before His creatures, how much more should we gladly humble ourselves before others?

Transition:     Pride is the very height of folly.  It is foolish because of God's opinion of pride as an abomination and because we are nothing apart from Christ.  It is foolish because of the terrible things that pride produces and the wonderful blessings that pride prevents.  It is foolish because it has constructed consequences, because it identifies us with the enemy and because it is directly opposed to the example of humility that Christ set before us.

Conclusion

·         One of the things that makes pride so dangerous is that it can be so hard for us to spot and ourselves.  The very definition of pride is thinking better of ourselves that we really are.  It is not surprising, that proud people do not usually see their pride.  For this reason, it is vitally important that we spend time regularly searching out the pride of our hearts.  We must determine that we are going to go against the flow of the world, our culture, of Satan and even our own hearts in defeating this dreaded enemy of godliness.

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