Category Archives: Character

Consider others

Pride

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

When we’re prideful we can’t see past ourselves to meet the needs of others.  We view ourselves as the highest priority and we care very little what God wants of us or what others might be feeling.  But a humble spirit puts others first.

All around us are ads, people, groups, businesses and all other manner of communications telling us to put ourselves first and to basically forget about other people and what they want.  You’re #1.  You deserve the best.  But a follower of Christ, a person after His own heart, will not be able to do this without feeling a strong urging to do the opposite.  We’re called to put others first.

This can be taken to an extreme where the person seeking to put others before themselves actually neglects their own needs to their detriment. A balance has to be found though.  We do have things we need and we shouldn’t forget to take care of ourselves. But by considering others more significant than ourselves, we’re just reorganizing our priorities a bit. We’re more courteous, doing things like helping out where we see a need, even when it might make us late.  We’re willing to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others.  We give our time.  This is humility and God honors it.

Let another praise

Pride

Proverbs 27:2  Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips

So if pride is so destructive and humility is the way to go, how can we go about being more humble?  How can we act in a way that is pleasing to God and not so self-centered and prideful?  What does the Bible say about how to do this?

The book of Proverbs is loaded with advice on seeking wisdom and keeping away from a prideful heart.  One tip that more of us should consider in our daily lives is being more quiet about ourselves.  It’s ok to have joy about a job well done or to tell someone if you’ve achieved something.  This proverb doesn’t mean to never celebrate good work, it just means not to be the kind of person who constantly self congratulates.  Boasting is definitely prideful and should be avoided.  Leave it to other people to give you props.

But here’s the thing.  This isn’t all about actions and behaviors.  It’s not about just not doing something like boasting.  This is a heart issue.  Not being prideful doesn’t just mean don’t act prideful.  This is about having a humble heart before God.  He knows our innermost thoughts and condition, He knows when we’re showing false humility and when we’re truly humble.

So don’t brag about yourself, not just because you know not to act prideful, but because you want a soft heart that loves God and puts Him first.

 

God resists the proud, but…

Pride

James 4:6  But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We’ve all seen the downside of pride.  The pain it can cause.  The alienation, the disappointment.  Pride can cut us off from God because the proud displace God in favor of themselves.  The proud make themselves into their own god.  This is why God resists them.  But there is hope.  There is grace.

Though God resists the proud, we find that He gives grace to the humble.  This doesn’t just mean that those who continually show humility receive grace.  God so freely gives His grace that even someone who recognizes their pride and turns to Him in humility can receive it.  He’s so willing to pour out His grace that He extends the offer to anyone that turns from their pride.

Humility is about putting God back where He belongs and ourselves back where we belong.  We’re not God and we do a good thing when we recognize that and admit it.  With God in the place of Lord and us under His authority, we’re able to receive the grace He offers.  Pride, however, won’t allow us to receive that gift.  Step aside!

 

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.

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.

Giving everything

Passage: Mark 14:3-9

Key verse: Mark 14:3  And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

In the days leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, He taught some of the greatest lessons of His earthly ministry.  At Bethany, days before His crucifixion, Jesus was annointed for burial by a woman willing to give all she had.  Here we can all learn about sacrifice.

While some plotted to kill Jesus, His disciples remained in denial about His certain death, despite many warnings.  The woman at Bethany, however, stood apart from everyone else.  Her concern was not with who would be the greatest, or how much money she could get for selling her oil.  Her mind was set on full devotion to Jesus.  Sitting at the feet of the Lord, she annointed Him with the costly oil.  It’s a picture of how much more He meant to her than her earthly possessions did.

Are you willing to give it all in full devotion to Jesus Christ?  Can you say that you’ve given your whole life to Him?  Is following Him more important than anything else?  Jesus gave Himself, suffering on a cross, willing to be considered cursed, for the sake of our reconciliation with God.  Heaven was bankrupted of its most precious treasure all for us.  Now what are we willing to give up?

Work out your salvation

Philippians 2:12-13  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Though we can’t earn salvation through good works, not all of the effects of salvation can be seen immediately in us and we’re called to persevere in our faith and “work out” our salvation.  As we progress in our walk with Christ, God works in and through us.

At the point we would call conversion, we do become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), our old nature dying and our new nature being in Christ.  It’s through persevering faith, though, that we really take on the new attributes of a Christ-follower, the fruits.  The Holy Spirit works in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure”. This means our very desires begin to change because of God’s work in us.  We don’t just change because we think we’re supposed to change, we change because we now desire to do so.  Our wants begin to align with God’s will and purpose.

When we follow Christ, we take on His plans as our own and God has us bring about His will by transforming us to be more like Him.

Proper motivation

1 Timothy 1:5  The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

In our lives as Christians, we can often get caught up in thinking that we’re just supposed to do certain things, obey the rules, and work for God.  The problem is that sometimes our motives are all wrong.  We do things because we’ll be noticed or we do them because we want God to think more highly of us.  The Lord, whether we realize it or not, cares very much about our motives.  He cares that we do things out of love, a pure heart, and sincere faith.

We shouldn’t do things just because we’re going through the motions of what we think we’re supposed to do and we should never do good things out of selfish motives.  A good deed done for personal gain is worth nothing.  God’s work in us, our sanctification, should lead to fruits that bear witness to Him.  Selfish good deeds do no such thing.

Follow the lead of Matthew 5:16 and let your light shine so that others will glorify God because of it.

That you may obtain the glory of our Lord

2 Thessalonians 2:14  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who began a good work in us will see it through to its completion.  He’s called us not only to salvation but to sanctification.  In shaping us and forming us to be more like Christ, God is bringing glory unto Himself.

When we are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit we bring glory to Jesus.  All glory unto Jesus is also unto the Father (John 10:30).  When we are growing into the image of Christ, we desire more and more to do the will of God the Father.

Our part in this, as Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica, is to stand firm.  We must hold on to the Gospel which we have been taught because the process of sanctification can be painful. When we face various trials, we need to focus on what God has done and what He will do.  It’s not only for our own good that He calls us to be made into the image of Christ, it’s also for His glory.

———-  What have you been through that’s been painful but you realize has been for your own benefit or God’s own glory?

Justified

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Justification belongs to those that believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.  If you’re saved, you were first called, but the thing is, not all who are called receive justification.  How is this verse reconciled in light of the fact that not everyone who receives God’s invitation to salvation responds to it?  The calling here can’t refer to the invitation, but must refer to an effective call of the Holy Spirit on the life of the one who would believe and become justified.  Those He chose from the beginning are those who received this call.  If you’re a Christ-follower, that’s you.

You’ve been chosen with a purpose and with that comes justification.  In other words, you’ve been declared “not guilty” because Jesus took on your sin when He died on the cross.  Your sin is forgiven.  With that comes a promise.

You’ll be glorified on the last day.  This is to say that you’ll receive a new body, a resurrection body.  It’ll be perfect, free from all the flaws our current bodies entail.  When God called you, He equipped you for faith and He justified you when you followed Christ.  This is not without reward.  When you get to see Jesus, you’ll be justified, sanctified, and glorified.