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Bragging and Arrogant Pride

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

***

Bragging about old times
two men were boasting to each other about their old army days.
“Why, my outfit was so well drilled,” declared one, “that when they

presented arms all you could hear was slap, slap, click.”
“Very good,” conceded the other, “but when my company

presented arms you’d just hear slap, slap, jingle.”
“What was the jingle?” asked the first. “Oh,” replied the other offhand, “just our medals.”

***

 

Ever get into one of those conversations that headed the direction of the joke above?  You tell your story and your friend seems to think they need to ‘one up’ you.  After they’ve had their turn, you’re ready with yet another story that will top theirs.  Sometimes we do this in jest, but other times we really do this because we absolutely want our story, no matter how far the truth is stretched, to be the best.  We boast and it gets out of hand.

 

I’m sure that most of you know someone who is a lot of talk.  By this I mean life seems to be all about them.  For some reason, they’re always better.  They have the better job.  Their car, no matter what kind, always outdoes someone else’s.  Better gas mileage.  Seats smell nicer.  Oh, and they always get the best deal at the grocery store.  Their kids are smarter than anyone else’s.  Their dog is too.  They can run fast and cook the best hamburger.  They have stylish hair…even if there’s not much of it.  This might be an extreme, but I know you know someone like this.  Hmmm…is it you?

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall.”  What exactly is this boastful pride that the Bible says has no place in true love…the love and character of God?  My guess is, that if we look closely again at why we are called to love and Paul’s description of it, we will gain a new perspective.

 

We are called to love God and love our neighbor.  Everything from the Old Testament and New Testament combined..even the life of Jesus himself, is summed up in these two commandments.  Pride or arrogance has no home among these two instructions.  Paul writes that love doesn’t boast and is not proud…and I believe the idea is simple.

 

The boastful person or the prideful person is about themselves.  Boasting has the intent to draw attention to oneself.  Pride carries the intent to think highly of oneself.  Someone might say that it is good to be confident, but strength through confidence doesn’t draw attention intentionally.  There is a quiet confidence that is clothed in humility.  Jesus carried the confidence of who He was, what He could do and what His purpose was.  Inside of that confidence, people were drawn to Him…and He was all about letting them know who He served and how they could know Him better.

 

Pride doesn’t point to Jesus.  Boasting pulls attention away from God.  God Himself said this in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

23 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

It’s all about getting people to know God.  In the end, it will not matter how many quarters we can catch from our elbow or how many hot dogs we can eat in a 5 minute period.  In the end it will not matter how much money we made or if our car was new every 3 years.  In the end it won’t matter if our clothes were permanent press or 100% cotton.  It won’t even matter if we lived the American dream.  God’s dream for us trumps any other dream we can conjure up for ourselves.  In the end it will only matter if we loved God with everything we have and if we loved our neighbor as ourselves.  If we love God we will believe in and follow His son.  If we love our neighbor, we won’t brag or be proud of “us stuff.”  We will see and recognize their accomplishments and their needs alike and try to be a part of their life…so much so that they see God through us and are drawn to Him.  Love does not brag and is not proud.

Can you picture your church family as one that grabs hold of this concept and puts away verbal bragging and self pointing pride?  What would a church family be known for if bragging and pride were not part of the vocabulary.  Those one up stories would stop at the first story…and it would be the other person’s story.  And we might follow with a phrase like “that’s great!” or “wow, you did that?” or “that is so cool!”  It would be about lifting them up…even if we knew they are bragging.  In doing so, in being kind and patient, we will exude the character of God for His children.  In time, people will notice and wonder why we are different.  The church family that does this will absolutely be known in the community…not by the name on their sign at the foot of the driveway, but by their love.  And Jesus verified this in John 13:35.  Let’s move forward as the church on the planet with strong confidence in who and who’s we are…bringing more and more with us to our home in Heaven.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • Are you prone to feeling like you need to ‘one up’ people around you?
  • Can you now get a sense for how you sound when you have the next best story?
  • Can you see how it can interfere with your purpose for taking people to Heaven?
  • What will be a couple of phrases you will put in your back pocket to pull out when you have the “need” to tell a better story or when you’re driven to brag or be proud? What kind of phrases can you create and reiterate that focus on God or the other person?
  • Is there a person who is boastful or overly proud that you are regularly in conversation with?  How will you approach them differently now so that they might see God’s glory through you?…maybe not immediately, but in time with patience?

Authority

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

***

A Department of Water Resources representative stops at a Texas ranch and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for your water allocation.”

The old rancher says, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there.”

The Water representative says, “Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.. See this card? This card means I am allowed to go WHEREVER I WISH on any agricultural land. No questions asked or answered. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?”

The old rancher nods politely and goes about his chores.

Later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the Water Rep running for his life. And close behind is the rancher’s bull. The bull is gaining with every step.

The Rep is clearly terrified, so the old rancher immediately throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs…..

“Your card! Show him your card!”

***

When we think of authority, what do we often picture?  Our world, I believe, has kind of fogged our trust in anyone with authority.  Many times, if you watch or listen to the news, stories about people who have abused their authority seem to fill the airtime.  You know why this is true?  It’s because we’re all human.  When we find someone who seems to speak or lead or teach with authority…and we can trust them…it might seem abnormal.  We are human and we have sin as our nature.

The closing statement to the section of Scripture known as The Sermon on the Mount says that the people saw Jesus as someone who spoke with authority.  This statement is also written for comparison.  The people who have been listening to Jesus speak had ‘authorities.’  They were their teachers of The Law.  The law mentioned is the Law of Moses.  These people probably had good intentions…giving them the benefit of the doubt…but were seen as people with just human authority.  The verse states the crowds were amazed at Jesus authority.  What they just heard might have been similar to what they had heard before…but they were hearing it from the ultimate source.  They were hearing it from the author.

Do you, when you read or study God’s word, think you are receiving it as though it is coming straight from the mouth of the Lord?  When you hold your Bible, do you feel as though you are really holding the holiest stories and commands on the planet?

Here’s what we see in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah, in chapter 8 of his book, records that as Ezra opened God’s Word at the appointed worship time, the people stood.  As he began to read the people bowed with their faces to the ground.  They knew that God’s word…God’s authority…was present.  Not through Ezra…but through the Word.  In 2 Kings we read of when the high priest of the time found The Book of the Law while cleaning a room in the Temple.  This was their Bible!  They had gone on with “worship” and “sacrifice” in ritual…doing things that temple people do (that church people do) forgetting about God’s holy word.  When Hilkiah, the high priest, brought the book of the law to his king and read it to him, the king responded by tearing his robes in repentance.  He realized that they had walked away from their authority.  King Josiah, remembering who actually reigns in authority over all the earth, began to clean house.  That’s about the best two word phrase I can come up with.  The king cleaned house fully knowing that the consequences of forgetting God’s authority were already in play.  He knew that God was not happy and things were going to happen because of that…but he cleaned house anyway.   He pressed his people, God’s chosen nation/family, to return to their Lord and His ways only.  Josiah recognized divine authority and responded.  Ezra recognized God’s divine authority…and so did the Israelites…and they responded.

The people who listened to Jesus’ sermon here in Matthew recognized something different about this man.  It might have been similar words He was speaking, but as Matthew writes, a sense of amazement was in the air.  I remember watching The Passion of the Christ movie in the theater with friends from church.  After the last scene was over, there was compete silence in the theater.  It was eerie.  It was like we had just revisited the crucifixion…personally.  I can imagine Jesus wrapping up the story about the wise man and the foolish man, walking off the stone he was preaching from, as people stood and stared with jaws hanging open.  There probably were a couple people who wanted to cheer and clap.  Maybe a few others shouted an Amen or something similar.  But the Bible says that a sense of amazement hung over the crowd.  This was not normal.  This was different.  Their teachers spoke great things … these words were great things spoken by someone completely different.

How do you respond when you read or hear God’s word?  Know what the crowds did?  The next chapter begins with “…large crowds followed him.”  They wanted more.  They wanted to be close.  They wanted to be with this authority figure.  One man, figuring out who Jesus was, and asked to be healed…and he was at Christ’s word.  When you realize you haven’t been following God’s authority, do you respond with a sense of awe and repentance and amazement?  Does it help you clean house?  Does is cause you to want to follow closer and more often?  Does it cause you to reach out to Jesus and ask for help and healing and forgiveness?  I struggle here too.  But let’s be real for just one short sentence.  It should.

Each and every day in our own lives we respond to and respect authority.  Our job.  Traffic signs.  Tax law.  Federal and State government.  We all obey rules and follow through on things that ‘authorities’ above us hand down.  These people and entities are authorities in our lives…and the Bible says for us to follow the authorities placed over us as much as we can within the boundaries of obeying God.  But these authorities are human.  God has placed or allowed them to be in power over us for a season…for a time.  But God’s authority is over the universe.  It is over our very lives.  How do we respect and respond to Him?  It’s a question we need to think about each day.  How we think about God and His authority directly relates to how we live our lives, how we speak our words, what we do to and for other people.  If we see God as our ultimate authority, the author of our Bible, it would be noticeable.  Do your friends and family, without a doubt, know who you believe in and how much you believe?  Has God’s authority changed who you are?

Here’s some questions for growth:

  • Do you know where your Bible is right now?
  • When is the last time you read it with amazement…as though you were reading it and God was speaking to you directly?  What did He say?
  • Does realizing this help you want to approach the God of the Universe in a new way?  How?
  • What changes will you make this week to approach and stand before the ultimate Judge recognizing the authority He has?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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