—> I shared this short message at the Young Professionals’ fellowship last night, September 28, 2010.
TEXT: James 4:1-10
There is a lot of miss-interpretation about what true humility is today. Therefore, this is a good time for us to see what the scripture really teaches us about pride. Pride is a very elusive thing, a very deceptive sin that most do not see in themselves. However, it is at the root of so much wrongdoing in our lives.
PRIDE AND ITS HISTORY
Pride is the oldest sin in the Book. In Genesis 3 when Satan tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he said to her, 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve and then Adam eat from the tree and we have always assumed they wanted to be like God. PRIDE IS A PROBLEM FOR ALL OF MANKIND. In Genesis chapter 11 we find an ancient story about the people on earth just after the great flood. Noah’s great grandchildren wanted to build a great city and tower. God wanted them to fill the earth and be fruitful but they gathered in the plains of Shinar and said in Gen. 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
So out of pride the great-great grandchildren of Noah were disobeying God and not filling the earth, so God confused their languages and scattered the peoples throughout the middle east and we call that partially built tower the tower of Babel.
When you read the Bible, and seriously consider sin, you end up seeing yourself and your own sin in-between the lines. Ted Turner allegedly once said, “If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect.” Well God wants to perfect us, but not in the Ted Turner style of things, but in the Jesus way.
Let’s first define a few things about pride and then close with instructions to put the humble heart of Jesus into our own lives.
GOD TALKS ABOUT PRIDE IN THE BIBLE.
Before I tell you why God hates pride there are two examples in the Bible of positive pride.
- Galatians 6:3 and following which says, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” What Paul was saying is that every Christian should put their efforts into developing their own consistency instead of picking on others.
- James 1:9 “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.” If you don’t have much today, be happy, because God loves you and in heaven you have riches.
But elsewhere God says he hates pride in us. In Proverbs 6 verse 16 it says, There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes,” is the first sin God hates, that’s pride. Really some simple reasons why that is so. I’ve listed five from scripture.
1. Vanity is the simplest form of pride. We are constantly concerned about how we appear. There is an over concern with clothing and make-up and jewelry and shoes and muscles. One author I read wrote, “If we exercise in Spandex – ever– there’s a good chance we have this problem.” Vanity is the most common form of pride and its irritating and silly, but fortunately not the most dangerous.
2. Pride destroys our capacity to love. The greedy or the gluttonous may still be capable of at least a certain kind of love, but pride is a form of anti-love. Proverbs 13:10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Prideful people struggle to cooperate with others. They are quick to attack, they breed quarrels. Pride separates people, it won’t allow for reconciliation or compromises or forgiveness and so relationships are destroyed.
3. Pride is stubborn. Stubborness is the pride that causes us to shun correction. It renders us unable to stop defending ourselves. When someone points out an error or flaw we evade or deny or blame someone else. This is difficult to penetrate. Defensive people rarely relax enough to listen to other. This stubbornness doesn’t admit it’s sin. It can’t say I’m sorry to God or others.
4. Pride is contrary to God’s own character. Phil. 2 5Your 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, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death…” Jesus was the most humble man to have ever lived and our goal is to be like him.
5. Pride denies God’s sovereign control. One time Don King the boxing promoter with the Hair that stands straight up, said once, “Sometimes I amaze myself. I say this humbly.” In our pride, we don’t leave room for God to guide us, because we often are trying to manipulate things, instead of letting God’s wisdom guide us. St. Augustine – “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels.”
BUT THE QUESTION THAT YOU’LL ASK ME MIGHT BE LIKE THIS: “What must I do to set aside pride in my life?”
- 1. ADMIT THAT PRIDE HAS TAKEN OVER.
James tells us there’s a way to KNOW if your pride has taken over. There’s a red flag you can watch for that tells us “I’M IN CHARGE HERE” – not God. And whenever we see this red flag in our lives we’ll know that something’s wrong. What’s that red flag?
James puts it this way: “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” (James 4:1a) “You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.” (4:2b)
What’s the sign that we’re more filled with ourselves than God? What’s the sign that pride has filled our lives? That sign/red flag – is anger, quarrelling, fighting to get one’s own way.
Now why would we quarrel and fight?
- It’s usually when someone has stepped over the line.
- They’ve crossed the boundary into OUR territory.
- They’ve mistreated US … denied US our rights.
- They’ve said things or done things to US that make us angry.
- They had no right to treat us that way.
- They had no business saying those things/doing those things to us!
- How dare they!!!!!!!
(Build this sequence in intensity until you ultimately slam your hand on the pulpit).
Essentially, James is telling us that when those emotions take over – it means WE have taken over. Our pride has been offended…and we’ve forgotten God.
One day a woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist to the electric coffeepot he had in his hand. It seemed that he was being electrocuted. So – intending to jolt him away from the deadly current – she whacked him with a plank that had been left by the back door, breaking his arm in two places. She later she found out that – up until that moment – he had been happily listening to his iPod.
APPLY: iPods are still the craze in music appreciation. (show iPod on overhead) Launched by Apple Computers in 2001 the iPod is a personal entertainment-center. It measures only about 2 1/2 inches wide by 4 inches tall – and is about ½ inch thick. But in this little box you can store your entire musical library and play any song on demand. What used to be stored on hundreds of CDs, and LPs… or 8 tracks now can be carried in your shirt pocket.
And you can listen to this music just about anywhere. You can keep it in your pocket and run the music to your ears via little earplugs or you can adapt it to run thru your car sound system. Or you can buy a devise that will play your music thru a full scale sound system.
It is truly a marvelous music machine. But wait – there’s more! In the latest iPods, you can store and play several movies or TV shows. Or, you can play games, or you can surf the internet.
With the proper knowledge and software, you can even turn this iPod into
- a cell phone
- a tazor
- or an etch-I-sketch
Now, all this entertainment doesn’t come cheap. There are several different models on the market right now. The cheapest runs around $150, but the more advanced models can cost between $300 & $500 depending upon the amount of memory you want.
As you can imagine, I won’t be buying one of these anytime soon but if I really wanted this little item… if I wanted the satisfaction this box promises… that’s what it’s going to cost!
Here in chap 4, James is telling us the same thing is true in getting satisfaction in this world. If you want true satisfaction – if you want everything all in one box – there’s going to be a price.
There are many in this world who think satisfaction is based upon how much “Stuff” you have. The more toys… the more joys. Or as someone once declared: “He that dies with the most toys wins.” That’s what Christmas has come to mean to some many people.
But toys don’t bring happiness…Stuff can’t fill your lives… just your closets. The THINGS of this world might keep you entertained, but they can’t give true satisfaction. And that’s what James is trying to tell us. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want…” Jas 4:1-2
What James is declaring is this: The endless pursuit of STUFF/ THINGS/ TOYS only serves to make you irritable. It causes you to get into quarrels and fights: it promotes PRIDE!
2. BE SATISFIED WITH GOD
In the passage that we have read, James is telling us that we don’t need all the STUFF. What you just need is God. If you have God… what else could you possibly need?
It’s like owning an iPod. If you have that little box why would you need all those CDs stacked in the corner?
But, there is a price for being satisfied with God in your life. Look again at James 4:4-9, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
If you want to be satisfied with God…there’s a price to be paid: Jesus put it this way: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mt 16:24
One of the most interesting things about the iPod (to preachers like me) is how it’s spelled:
It isn’t IPod. It’s iPod. It’s a little ‘i’… not a big one.
In order to obtain the satisfaction God wants to give you and I, we need to transform ourselves into little “i”s. We need to focus not so much upon ourselves and what we want… as upon God and what He wants.
Now, that’s not as simple as it may sound. That kind of humility doesn’t come naturally to us.
Several years ago the New York Telephone Company made a detailed study of telephone conversations to find out which word is the most frequently used. Can you guess which word that was? It was a personal pronoun “I.” “I.” “I.” “I” was used 3900 times in 500 telephone conversations.
We like ourselves. We like to look at ourselves. If you go into the lobby of a big building, you’ll sometimes find the walls filled with mirrors. They often do that because they’ve discovered that people complain less about waiting for slow elevators when they’re occupied looking at themselves.
We also like to talk about ourselves. One of the surest ways of starting a conversation with someone is to ask them about themselves.
In fact one of the main things this world encourages us to do – is to center our attention on ourselves:
- Socrates said, “Know yourself.”
- The psychiatrist says: “Express yourself”
- Many Counselors will say: “Love yourself.”
- The hedonist says: “Enjoy Yourself.”
- The waiter will tell you: “Indulge yourself.”
- The Personnel manager advises you: “Assert yourself.”
- The health aid companies will advertise: “Take care of yourself.”
- Leisure time industries will tell you: “Pamper yourselves.”
Only Jesus says: “Deny yourself”… deny yourself … deny yourself.” Being satisfied with God means denying ourselves!
- Turning your back on this world.
- Choosing God over anything this world can give you. (Prioritizing God…YP’s common problems)
- Surrendering yourself God.