Pride will bring you low

Pride

Proverbs 29:23  One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Pride is one of those things in our lives that can go undetected, unchecked, and unsuspected for a long time.  We may think we’re doing just fine by behaving the way we are, never even having so much as a hint that we’re being driven by our own pride.  Then it happens.

It’s interesting how much easier it is to see pride in someone else’s life than it is in our own.  When someone comes crashing down after they let their pride guide them in all their decisions, we have an “I saw it coming” attitude, but when it happens to us it’s always a surprise.  The old illustration of boiling a frog seems appropriate here.  If you put a frog in hot water, he’ll jump out, but if you put him in room temperature water and increase the heat little by little, you’ll boil him.  Pride creeps into our lives in this way, not all at once, but a little bit at a time.  One selfish decision leads to another and so on.

But it can’t go on forever.  Everyone who is led by their pride will eventually fall and when they do it would have been better for them to bring themselves down in humility than to face the consequences of their pride.  We have many chances along the way to check our pride and make sure we humbly put it aside.  It’s better to do it voluntarily than to be brought low without warning.  Following the example of Christ will help us in this endeavor.

Jesus, the high priest

Who is Jesus?

Hebrews 5:5  So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”

In the days of the Old Testament priests, a sacrifice was made on behalf of the people by the High Priest.  This would atone for their sins for the period of one year.  In this way the priest brought God and man together.

Jesus is the perfect High Priest because He serves as both the priest and the sacrifice.  He brings God and man together by the shedding of His own blood, not that of an animal.  The sacrifice of this perfect Lamb is once and for all, not just to atone for a limited period of time.

Jesus didn’t appoint Himself to the position of High Priest, but He’s the only one who can fill the role perfectly.  Unlike all other High Priests who had to offer sacrifices for their own sins as well as those of the people, Jesus can atone for our sins by offering His own life in the place of ours.  And that’s just what He did.

Pride goes before destruction

Pride

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Have you ever witnessed someone who seemed to have it all together suddenly tumble down from their high position, whether that means losing respect, losing money, or losing everything?  Beware of pride lest that be you in the future.  Pride has killed many giants, and it’s the root of many sins.

Things like lust, arrogance, anger issues, disrespect, irreverence for God, divorce, lawsuits, and many others on a long list can often be traced back to their roots in pride.  For so many of us, pride is not something we see in ourselves until it’s too late.  We carry on our lives without realizing that what drives us is our self-pride.  We ruin relationships, step on others, cheat, abuse, and sin all because of pride…and we don’t even realize it because we’re blind to it.

But if we ask God to open our eyes, to keep us from pride and to help us repent, He’ll show us the way.  Pride does come before destruction, but the good news is that we don’t have to remain prideful.  We can’t get over the problem of pride on our own, we have to turn to Jesus, but His power is sufficient to relieve us and bring us back to a humble demeanor under His grace.

Jesus, the friend

Who is Jesus?

John 15:15  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Can Jesus really be your friend?  The Creator of the universe, your BFF?  Well, it all depends really.  The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that we do not get to decide if we’re friends of Jesus.  He chooses us, not the other way around (John 15:16).

Secondly, there are stipulations to being a friend of God.  “If you do what I command you,” He says (John 15:14).  With Christ we don’t get a genie in a bottle who we can manipulate to get what we want.  We get a loving God who cares about us but expects us to give our lives to Him.

Are you a friend of God?  Is your whole life His?  You don’t get to take your ball and go home in this friendship if you don’t like what you’re hearing.  If the Lord of all chose you as His friend, you’re never going to be apart from Him.  In good times and in bad, He’s by your side.  When you need Him, He’s there.  When you fall, He’ll pick you up.  And best of all, He gave His life for you.  There’s no greater love than that (John 15:13).

Fear of death

Fear

Luke 12:4  I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.

One of the biggest fears we tend to have as humans is that of the unknown.  The powerless feeling that comes from not knowing what is going to happen can be terrifying.  Nowhere is this feeling of helplessness more evident than in the fear of death.  Many people fear death because they don’t know, and think we can’t know, what happens next.

But we can know what happens after this life.  God has revealed to us in His Word that we will live on eternally after this life, either in heaven with Him or in hell apart from Him.  Fear of death then, becomes less about not knowing what will happen and more about fear of going to hell.

Christians have no reason to fear death.  If we are in Christ, we know that we will go on to live with Him in glory.  To live is Christ and to die is gain for the believer.  We can know where we’re going after this life is over and if it’s into eternal fellowship with God, then there’s no reason to be afraid of dying.  Christ’s sacrificial death paid for our eternal life.

Jesus, the redeemer

Who is Jesus?

Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

You and I were once under the wrath of God, helpless to free ourselves from the state we found ourselves in.  We were enemies of God and we never could have done anything to appease Him.  It was beyond our ability to reach out to Him.

But God, in an act of amazing grace, reached out to us.  He extended His hand in peace by offering His Son to die in our place.  His perfect, sinless Son became our sin and paid the price we owed.  And He set us free.  He redeemed us.  Do you understand the term redeemer?  Do you realize the weight it carries?

A redeemer is one who buys something or someone back, say out of slavery or bondage for example.  An Old Testament picture of the redeemer concept is given in the book of Ruth when Boaz redeems Ruth out of her widowhood.  Jesus became our Redeemer which means He purchased us at a price.  Now we belong to Him.  We’re His.  But belonging to Christ is where true freedom is found.  It’s in Him that we really find life.

No one can ever take us away from our Redeemer.  Once Jesus has paid the price for you, you’re His, once and for all.  We can never lose Him and He’ll never leave us.

Fear of evil

Fear

Psalm 27:1-2 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

 Anyone who follows Christ has and enemy.  The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and he’ll do it by whatever means necessary.  This can be a scary thought.  A powerful enemy who hates us because we belong to God, just waiting to bring us down.

But we don’t have any reason to fear evil because it’s already been conquered.  God has defeated evil with the work of Christ and Satan has no power over us.  Yes, he’ll still try to defeat us.  Yes, he’ll still prowl around like a lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).  But the point is, he can’t win.  He can’t get us because we’re in Christ.  Jesus’ victory over evil is our victory over evil.  Because He won, we win.

Some Christians still live in fear of the dark spiritual forces that are at work in the world.  One reason for this is their focus on the evil that exists rather than on the Almighty God who beat it.  When we keep our eyes on Him, who is there to fear?

Jesus, the mediator

Who is Jesus?

1 Timothy 2:5-6  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

In the course of human history, many attempts have been made to reach God.  People have built towers to get to heaven, invented superstitions, taken part in religious practices, called on saints, and all other sorts of things that fail to bridge the gap between God and man.

The thing is, God is holy and we’re sinful.  We can’t get into His presence in our current state.  Only someone who’s lived a perfect life can get to God.  Because Jesus is fully God and yet lived an earthly life free from sin as a fully human man, He’s the only acceptable bridge between us and God.

When we pray, our words would fall on deaf ears were it not for Jesus petitioning on our behalf.  Because His righteousness has been imparted on us, God hears us when we call out to Him.  We don’t pray to Jesus, we pray through Him and He takes it to the Father.  Without Him, we’d have no way and no chance.

 

Fear of disappointing God

Fear

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 Unfortunately, a major motivator that’s taught in the Christian church in regards to doing what’s right is fear.  Guilt is heaped upon the Christian until he or she feels terrible for not being perfect.  The problem with this, of course, is that no one is capable of being perfect.  Motivation by fear is ineffective because it misses the whole point.

God did not send His own Son into the world just so we could have an example to live by because He expects us to perfectly obey Him.  He knew that we could never live up to the standard of perfection and He offered a way to forgiveness and reconciliation.  He paid the price so that we were no longer bound by the law.

Jesus freed us from the kind of burden that legalism brings by fulfilling the law.  We don’t need to fear that we’re going to disappoint God because He’s faithful and just and forgives our sins.  We have access to Him.  He wants us to approach Him with our confession, so we have no reason to be afraid of what He’ll do if we own up to our sins.  The prevailing thought is that God wants to forgive us and that should keep us from fearing punishment.

Jesus, the teacher

Who is Jesus?

John 13:15  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Many people, even non-Christians, would say that Jesus was a good teacher.  From the sermon on the mount to His parables, people love Jesus the teacher.  But His best lessons weren’t what He talked about, no not at all.  His best lessons were taught through His example.

Jesus taught His disciples many things (thereby teaching us also as we can read about these lessons), but the one time He actually said that He was showing an example of something they should emulate was when He washed their feet.  The one thing Jesus said to copy Him on was when He acted as a servant, showing love even to His enemy.

All of His other teachings draw from the truth that He showed by this act – he who wants to be first has to be last.  The leader must be the servant.  With that in mind, the other teachings seem to have a theme.

Jesus didn’t just lecture about love, He taught it through acting it out.  He went so far as to demonstrate ultimate love by dying on a cross to set captives free.  That is a teacher worth learning from.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known