Faithlife Sermons

Pride and Humbleness

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Today’s sermon is titled “Pride and Humbleness”
In studying for today’s sermon I realized that I am one of the most humble men in this church. Let me explain.
In Hebrew the concept of pride is most often expressed with the word ga’oon. This word means height but forms of it are translated as pride.
Seeing as I don’t have a lot of height I must be pretty humble.
All joking aside, This makes sense with our idea of pride being high up and humility which in the old testament carries the idea being down low, even crouched down.
I want us to frame this passage with a common understanding of pride and humility.
Pride is typically looked at as having a high view of oneself. Arrogance.
This is correct, but it is not complete.
Humility is usually characterized by underrepresenting oneself.
I don’t feel that this is the most accurate.
In a conversation I had with a pastor friend of mine several years ago, he gave me a definition of being humble I had never heard before and it changed the way I thought of it.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
The goal is not to convince yourself and others that you are something less than you are, but to not be so concerned about yourself in the first place.
With this I think we conversely must expand our definition of pride.
Pride is not just thinking too much of yourself its thinking of yourself too much.
Pride is not being someone important, it is the assertion and making sure everyone knows that you are someone important.
However, with this we must realize that pride takes many forms. It is not just a successful person bragging, it is any person insisting on their own way.
Selfishness and pride are intrinsically linked.
Selfishness is seeking your good over others. You do this because you are placing yourself above others. That is prideful.
Pride does not only have to be an elevated sense of who you are, it can be an elevated sense of how important your desires are.
James 4:1–10 CSB
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely? But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The reality of the pride we have within us and how that relates to our motivation.
James 4:1–3 CSB
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Pride is a Universal Issue that Causes Issues

The first part of this passage deals with our passions. There is a direct relationship between selfishness and pride.
Even though the word pride does not appear until the second portion of this passage, the entire first part of this passage deals with pride.
Because of our passions, and the pride within us we war with one another.
Wars and fights come from our passions that wage war within us.
Shared on a Wednesday night before the dumbest arguments that churches have had:
Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor’s beard
Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or to use the land for a cemetery .
A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot
A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women’s restroom (
A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed
A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers
A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer
A petition to have all church staff clean shaven
A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service
A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue
A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice
Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve
Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve
Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example
Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years
An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal
An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church
A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing”
A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor.
An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine
Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split
An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not
A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil
A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week
We fight about things all of the time.
This passage is saying that this comes from our passions that wage war within us.
I am convinced that when we grow up, often times the things that we dealt with as children don’t go away, the ways we react our natural inclinations don’t go away. They just get more complex with greater impacts.
EX. Children throwing fits about someone taking away a toy. A person committing murder because they feel they have been wronged by another.
Our passions, if indulged and encouraged, will lead to compromise and greater sin.
Slow fade and slide into sin.
This, in part, is what this passage is saying. The source of wars and fights among us is the warring of our passions within us.
We all have passions that are warring within us. When those passions conflict with the passions of those around us we have conflict.
Depending on the strength of the passion, and the propensity of the individuals this escalates at various levels.
This passage says that because of desire you murder and covet. This is the reason for those things happening, but these are advanced examples of passions waging war within.
We can’t think that because you do not murder, that we are free from this problem. This is a hyperbolic example.
What do we often say to people when they encounter those who are rude and mean to them seemingly for no reason?
“They are just jealous”
There is truth to this statement. When pride and covetousness and passion wage war within it can come our agains the person.
Where this passage says murder, we might see that a person acts out in rudeness.
Instead of taking things into our own hands, we should take it to God.
Too often, when we have issues, we try to take things in our own hands.
This passage says that, “You do not have because you do not ask.”
Sometimes our passions and desires may not be the issue, the problem is when we go about it the wrong way.
It isn’t wrong to want some water. It is wrong to walk into a store and take a bottle of water without paying.
Instead, we should ask God for the things that we desire instead of taking things out on those who are around us.
Asking with wrong motives is no better.
The hard thing that we have to understand is that what we want and what we desire is not in and of itself good. In fact our desires are inclined toward evil.
This is hard for us to admit. We do not like to think that what we want is wrong. We like to think that if we want something it must be ok because we are good people.
James says that you ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives to spend it on your pleasures.
I pray your brakes go out runnin' down a hill I pray a flower pot falls from a window sill And knocks you in the head like I'd like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls I pray you're flyin' high when your engine stalls I pray all your dreams never come true Just know wherever you are, honey, I pray for you
The adultery of God’s people because of their pride. God’s jealously for his people.
Correct understanding of the church as the bride of Christ.
Pursuit of things other than God is adulterous to God.
This is seen all throughout the Old Testament
Pride Leads to Destruction. Humility Leads to God.

Humbling Ourselves Before God is the Solution

Verse 6: But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Despite our pride. Despite our concern for ourselves over other and even over God. Despite the way we are unfaithful to God, Verse 6 says that God gives greater Grace!
Even though we aren’t faithful, God is and makes a way for even the worst sinner to be right with him!
This is the turning point in the passage. James moves from what we do that is wrong, to how we are to get right with God.
God opposes the proud. God has grace for those who humble themselves.
God is against the proud. This word implies active opposition.
How wild or delusional would we have to be to oppose God? When we live in our pride and arrogance this is exactly what we do.
Its like the guy who picked a fight on an airplane with Mike Tyson. How did he think that was going to end for him?
God gives grace to the humble.
This acknowledges that neither person is good, but for those who are humble there is grace.
To be saved requires humility. The admission of wrongdoing. The admission of incapability to save oneself. The complete reliance upon what Jesus has done for salvation.
Therefore, submit to God.
To come under authority.
The changing of our posture toward God.
Unloading a Bag to make it fit the weight requirement for a flight.
We must lower ourselves into the right posture to deal with God.
We understand the relationship and approach it accordingly.
Humility is shown through submission to God.
John 3:30 CSB
He must increase, but I must decrease.”
When Jesus is coming into his ministry John realized that what he had built his ministry needed to decrease and become smaller so that Jesus would be glorified.
We must learn to do this in our lives.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Submission to God is resisting the devil.
This is an active fight against the devil.
Make war against your sin.
Refusing to submit to God is walking in step with the devil.
People have in their mind all of these wild ideas about what it means to serve the devil. People selling their soul to the devil for fame and fortune.
That is what he wants you to think it is. In reality, when you refuse to submit to God and you live your life the way that YOU want to live it… You do exactly what he wants.
The promise is that he will flee from us. This is something we should seek after and be encouraged by.
Verse 8: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
If we will seek God he is faithful. He will draw near to us.
The good news is that we have.
Jesus gave us an example of what this looks like : Prodigal Son returning to the Father.
So the devil will flee and the Lord will draw near.
This is a recipe for living as obedient children.
Verse 8 continued: Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
We are called to cleanse ourselves. This is what it means to repent.
The turning from the former ways. Singularly focus on our relationship with God. Be changed and transformed by it.
Cleanse your hands
Purity in actions.
Purify your hearts.
Change of your desires.
It is important to realize that this is not always an easy and enjoyable process.
Verse 9: Be miserable mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Through a breaking down of ourselves, we will be made new.
Strip yourself of your pride. The laughter and joy you have built will be torn down.
This hurts. This process isn’t easy. But it is worth it.
You are trading temporary things for something eternal.
Verse 10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
In this verse in particular the parallel of position runs deep. This verse could almost be read: Lower yourselves before the Lord, and he will raise you up.
This is what we are called to do.
Paradoxically through this process of humbling yourself before the Lord you will actually achieve your highest good.
The picture of a child that won’t let go of their toy. But Jesus has a better one behind his back.
This seems like a silly picture, and depending on how you are looking at it, it could be completely wrong. But I believe there is some truth to it as it relates to this verse.
When we humble ourselves. We lay down what we have built ourselves up to be. We submit to God. We become nothing.
God will then raise us up and bless us and transform us into something we could never fathom.
Remember what Paul said in Philippians 3:8.
I consider everything to be a loss in ver of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Humility is how we attain a relationship with God that is greater than anything we can strive after in this world.
The Pride that Keeps us From Following in Obedience
This sounds wonderful, but too often our pride will keep us from submitting in humility.
We value what we want.
We value what people think.
We are just stubborn about surrendering control.
There is no shortcut or substitute to right relationship with God then submitting ourselves to him in humility.
Today, in what way do you need to submit to the Lord? Where do you need to lay down your pride and submit to him?
Is it in the way you interact with others?
Is it in the way that you live your life?
Is it in the way that you need to submit to him in your salvation.
It is hard to humble yourself. To lay yourself aside. It is hard to submit. But it is worth it.
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