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PRIDE, PART 3

Pride is the canal through which many sins flow; the snowball that starts an avalanche of iniquity; the tremor that ends up on the God's Richter scale. Conceit is the genesis of many sins:

-Scorn others/hold others in derision (Psalm 119:51, 123; Galatians 2:12; James 2:1-6; 4:6, 10). Pride keeps us from obeying Paul's directive: "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Romans 12:16). The state of Illinois gets its name from an Indian word to which a French suffix was added. It means "tribe of superior men." Certainly modern-day residents of Illinois do not ordinarily boast of themselves as superior men, yet throughout history there have been those who have. In Nazi Germany, for example, Adolph Hitler taught his people that they were a superior race.! None of us really has a right to look down our noses at others. Alexander the great, seeing Diogenes looking attentively at a parcel of human bones, asked the philosopher what he was looking for. Diogenes replied: "That which I cannot find—the difference between your father's bones and those of his slaves." A bubble appears bigger than a water drop, but it is not. It is just a "puffed up" drop of water—H20 that's full of air. Some people are like bubbles. The "I'm-glad-I'm-not-like-him" attitude of the Pharisees must-never make its home in-our-bosoms,-much less pass through the gates of our mouths (Luke 18:11). It is never good for one to brag about how good one is, especially in a prayer! God knows the truth. "God is the only one in a position to look down on anyone."

-Forge lies (Psalm 119:69). A humble person will not tear down another in an effort to lift himself up.

-Deal perversely (unfairly) with others (Psalm 119:78); "dig pits" for others (Psalm 119:85; 140:5); oppress others (Psalm 119:122; cf. 10:2).

-Stir up strife (Proverbs 13:10; 28:25).

-Oppose God's Word (Jeremiah 43:2; John 8:30-45). Milton expressed what many live but would not dare to say: "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven."

-Harden the mind/refuse to repent (Daniel 5:20). We must be willing to humbly submit to God's commands (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and admit error and repent when necessary (Acts 8:22). Any of us can fall from grace, and most of us have—at least temporarily. Paul admonished: Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). The test comes when we realize we have taken a wrong path. Will we admit it? Will we come back? Or will we harden our conscience? For contrast, consider David's soft conscience after he cut off Saul's skirt in the cave at Engedi (I Samuel 24:5). "David's heart smote him." Much later in life, he still had enough conscience left to be bothered when he sinned in numbering Israel (2 Samuel 24:10).

-Deceive oneself (Obadiah 1:3). "People who sing their own praises do so without accompaniment." When success comes our way, there is usually someone around to help us maintain perspective. TV newsman Tom Brokaw tells a story on himself that illustrates this point. Brokaw was wandering through Bloomingdale's in New York one day, shortly after he was promoted to co-host on the Today show. That show was a pinnacle of sorts for Brokaw after years of work, first in Omaha, then for NBC in Los Angeles and Washington, and he was feeling good about himself. He noticed a man who kept staring at him. Finally, the man approached him, and Brokaw was sure he was about to reap the first fruits of being a New York television celebrity. The man pointed his finger and said, "Tom Brokaw, right?" "Right." "You used to do the morning news on KMTV in Omaha, right?" "That's right," said Brokaw, getting set for the accolades to follow. "I knew it the minute I spotted you," the fellow said. Then he paused and added, "Whatever happened to you?"

-Dote over (get hung up on) useless questions (1 Timothy 6:4, 5).

-Oppose elders (1 Peter 5:5). The Holy Spirit said, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account,

-that they may do-it-with joy, and not with-grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? God keeps His distance from the proud (Psalm 138:6). He said to Job out of a whirlwind: "Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place" (Job 40:12). He just cannot "stomach" (suffer) a high look or a proud heart (Psalm 101:5). He "resists" (James 4:6) and "abases" proud people. He even threatens them: "I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isaiah 13:1 lb; cf. Malachi 4:1). Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that God makes no idle threats. After God took him down several notches, this hum-bled king said, "[I will...] praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abasei" (Daniel 4:37; cf. 5:20-24).

Conversely, God accepts and defends the humble: "...but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isaiah 66:2). Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3; cf. 20:20-28). He promised, He that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12b). If we are willing to come to God on that basis, God will receive us with grace. The Lord's half-brother and whole-hearted follower said: "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).

"Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken" (Jeremiah 13:15).