May 16th The Root of all our Problems


Reading Proverbs 16 1:1-33

Day 16, we are at are the half way point of our journey in Proverbs, well done if you’ve kept up! But, don’t get proud, Solomon warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (vs 18). Pride is the first of the ‘deadly sins’. Thomas Aquinas said it was the ’cause of every sin’. Augustine saw it as the very thing that drove Satan away from God. Satan then goes on to draw humanity to pride, enticing them with the lie, “You can be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Pride is  a kind of self love; Dame Edith Sitwell famously said in an interview in the 1950’s, “I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty, but, I’m too busy thinking about myself”. It’s this desire within our hearts, for ourselves, our fame, our name, our way, our rules, our rule. Our desire to be godlike is the great sin of humanity, it’s what theologians call the fall. And, all the pain, misery, murder and death we see around us, is the fallout of that fall!

G.K. Chesterton said that if he had only one sermon to preach it would be against pride. Calvin, who I suspect preached against pride more than once, writes in his harmony of the Gospels, “There is no more deadly disease than pride, yet it is so deep rooted in all, that it can hardly be expelled and torn out by any means at all”. It is dangerous, Solomon warns us, “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoils with the proud.” Maybe this was on Jesus’ mind when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 5:3).

So, how can we move away from pride and move towards humility? Answer: By looking to Jesus!

For me the shocker is God’s character; the one entity in the universe who perhaps has a right to pride, is not proud. Jesus says “I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mathew 11:29). After Adam and Eve sinned by rejecting God’s command and submitting to the Devil’s encouragement to be like God, God makes a sacrifice for them, turns seamstress and makes them new clothes. He loves this world so much he sends his own son to rescue it. He is born in a cave or stable not a palace; he works as a craftsman for thirty years; washes feet, submits to punches, whips, a crown of thorns and finally nails; then dies on a Roman cross. All this he does for a proud humanity who longs to be like God; for them God becomes a human, pays their price, dies their death, that they might live.

Paul writes,

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV 1984)

For memorisation:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)

Prayer

Father, please help me. I know that pride is always near. Please transform my heart. I simply ask today that you would help me to have the same attitude as Jesus. In his name I ask. Amen.

Comments:

  • Mary Dicker says:

    One small thing we can do this week.Join us for the Big Brekkie at the Welcome Baptist Church on Saturday at 8.30. Andy Caldwell will be speaking. Money to go to Christian Aid, an organisation that fights injustice.

  • The Dudemaster says:

    For me one of my favourite verses in Proverbs is v3. Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed!. That is not to say you pray about something and tell the Lord what you are up to and expect him to bless it. After all God is not going to bless a bank robber who decides to offer a quick prayer to commit to God his planned raid! No you have to seek God’s view about what it is you are planning to do, commit it to Him and wait for an answer. Sometimes this comes through a verse or from other Christians or sometimes God will speak to you directly. I recall when I was seeking what to do when I was to be made redundant, we sought out Guy partridge when we were between Pastors and explained the situation. Guy came right out with the answer though asking another question – “Have you been praying about whether you should leave your current job before this choice came up?” The answer was yes and straight away God had answered my question about whether to accept the redundancy or carry on in a lower graded job.

    V3 is underlined by v29 There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death. God gave us a free will but Sue in her earlier post sums it up in V9. I would rather do things God’s way than my way. We can fight, we can struggle and argue but the Lord knows best.

  • Mary Dicker says:

    I think pride is a difficult one. I like what Harry says in his comment. I guess the important thing is not to get above ourself but not to be a doormat either! My Auntie Maggie who was my main carter when I was a child always told me, ‘ Mary you are just as good as anyone else,but no better.’ I have tried to live to that maxim, knowing that we are all made in the image of God, and no one is less or more than His redeeming love.

  • Jas Hyland says:

    This is a great, great word Andy. For me personally, one of the greatest lessons I’ve had to learn (and am still constntly learning) over the last few years is that God doesn’t want me to put ‘any’ confidence in the flesh, and that I cannot improve my flesh one bit. My greatest key to really knowing and abiding in Him starts with Worship. I love the verse in 2 Cor that talks about us beholding the Glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, in which we are transformed into the same image! Amazing Grace doesn’t even cover it does it, when God opens the eyes of our hearts in this way. In all of this, the key for me is to focus on the obedience of Christ (Romans 5vs 19) and not I my obedience to Christ. That almost sounds wrong but it’s ironic how pride steps in when I focus on my obedience. My Christian life then becomes some sought of self improvement programe, as the living sacrifice crawls or even runs back off the alter and I end up walking by the flesh in a myriad of ways. I take my eyes of Jesus’s perfect faith and focus on my own. God is so gracious and loving though. He keeps bringing back, lifting up my head and smiling on me. (Apologies for the long message, but so foundational this is)

  • Sue Durrant says:

    V 18 stood out to me as well – the shortened version of which is well known even in the secular world – my mum used to quote it a lot probably without having any idea where it came from!! There is another verse that hit home for me, though… V 9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” God is always in the detail. He wants to be involved every step of the way with our lives & be our guide through every up & down, every turn & straight. Sometimes our plans don’t match God’s plans for our lives, sometimes they are totally in line with His plans; either way God’s guidance in the little steps is vital so the final (& correct) goal might be achieved!

  • Harry Alston says:

    Our biggest problem, I suspect, is our our egocentricity – our pride in ourselves. As infants we were totally absorbed by our needs and wants. As adults we are much the same but a bit more sophisticated and try to hide our obsession. We even hanker after self respect when we know that there is little are nothing to respect. In the end it does not matter what we think about ourselves, but what God thinks – In spite of our self-centredness He still loves us and values us highly. All He requires is for us to turn from our self regard and trust Him to transform us.
    Jesus said to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.



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