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August 2, 2003

Impressive Indescretions

2 Chronicles 32:31
However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

King Hezekiah was a good king. He loved the Lord and desired to honor Him. Therefore the nation was covered by God protection and experienced His prosperity. Like many leaders, pride found places to live in his heart. Earlier in v.25, hezekah was healed from life-threatening sickness. Instead of being grateful, he became prideful. It goes on to say that God's "wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem." In this occasion,Hezekiah humbled himself and avoided God's discipline.

This wasn't the last time Hezekiah allowed pride to rule in his heart. 2 Kings 20:12-19 provides the background of the story. Babylon had sent some "ambassadors" to visit Jerusalem. And here's where the problem starts. There are many leaders, including myself, who seek for approval or validation by showing off. It's a classic "guy" or male response. We have to prove how succesful or how powerful we are. Prudence requires constraint and humility while pride calls for showing off and sometimes indescretion. I can't begin to tel how many times I have wished I didn't say something or done something because I knew the motivation for saying or doing these things was pride. Yet I try to disguise our words/actions under the auspises of givng credit to God. I'm not fooling anybody, including myself. I need "cheap respect" - that which comes from trying to be impressive and not humbly earned. Cheap respect has consequences.

I've wondered, and felt at times, if God has withdrawn from me. Not that He ceased to love me, but allowed me to know the consequences of my desire to be impress men instead of honoring Him. This is an important test. God, who already knows what is in our hearts, allows our circumstances to expose it to us. With each sitation we continue to allow pride to live and not die in our hearts, we never know which moment of "cheap respect" will have a huge cost. This mistake by Hezekiah led to the Babylonians raiding Jesursalem and taking the nation into captivity. All because Hezekiah wanted to "show off."

Lord, don't want to be a show off. Help me to kill that thing in me that wants to be impressive and leades to pridefu indescretions.

June 5, 2007

Heartless Words

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 (NKJV)
Also do not take to heart everything people say,
Lest you hear your servant cursing you.
For many times, also, your own heart has known
That even you have cursed others.

One of the challenging things about pastoring is dealing with the things that get said about you. For the most part people are affirming and thankful for the ministry that they receive. But there's a whole other group who feel free to express their disappointment in and frustration with you, but never to you. They think you should be doing this or that, or you should change something. They'll talk ungraciously about your shortcomings and failures without considering how their words injure and wound. This kind of thing comes with the territory. What I'm ashamed to admit is how many times I've done that to others.

Yesterday I was reading the blog of a young pastor who's getting a lot of heat because of how quickly his church is growing. He wrote an interesting entry, about what we tend to do to each other as pastors. Now serving again as an associate, I've got to be very careful about what I say. I don't want my own need for validation to cause me to counterfeit affirmation by degrading someone else. Neither do I want to participate in conversations where others are doing this to someone. It's harder to do than you think.

Lord, help me to guard my heart from the thoughtless words spoken about me by others. Help me to guard my mouth from doing it to others.

June 13, 2007

Humility or Humiliation

2 Chronicles 12:5-8 (NIV)
5 Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, "This is what the LORD says, 'You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.' "
6 The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The LORD is just."
7 When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. 8 They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands."

Early on in the era of the divided kingdom (Judah separating from the rest of Israel), both sides fall into a religion of self reliance. Jeroboam, in the northern kingdom (Israel), initiated idol worship motivated because of his fear of losing his power. Rehoboam, Solomon's son, allowed it in the south (Judah) because of his relative success; cites in the region became fortified, people moving south because of Jeroboam's religious "adultery," and out of loyalty to the house of David. . Despite Rehoboam's heavy hand, the region prospered. It seemed to validate his authoritarian rule. But like any man who refuses Godly council and chooses instead to secure his own position, any future success is dependent upon one's own skill and wisdom and not on the favor of God. There is a measure of success that can be self-created, but sustaining it where the problems begin. When success is self-created, spiritual complacency sets in. (g)ods of our own choosing, and eventually our own creation, replace our dependence upon the one true God. That's why the phrase "and they did what was right in thier own eyes" defines the Divided Kingdom era.

Early on, the people were still sensitive enough to know when they had violated God's relational principles (usually when they're facing some kind of hardship or attack). In this case, Egypt and invaded and had taken control of Jerusalem. At least Judah knew what they needed to do - they humbled themselves before the Lord. The Lord acknowledged their humility, but allowed them to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness. This seems to be the pattern. Pride (self-reliance and self-sufficiency) is always followed by either humility or humiliation. Humility is realizing that you're way in over your head and you can't get yourself out. You repent, and God responds on your behalf. He still allows you to experience the consequences of your choices, without bearing the full weight of them. This experience serves as a discipline. Humiliation is what happens when you bear the full consequence of your self-dependence. This punishment is self-inflicted.

I need to be reminded of the difference between serving God and serving the other things that want to rule my life. I can choose humility or experience humiliation.


February 24, 2010

Prognosticators, Forecasters, Speculators, and the Decline of Civilization

Deuteronomy 18:12-14 (NKJV)
For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.

Observation:

Application:
So much of the culture today is shaped by editorialized information. News correspondents are hired to present speculation as fact. The more outlandish and abrasive their opinions, the more influence they yield. Investment bankers and Wall Street brokers sell educated “hunches” as commodity for which they are handsomely paid. Our nation’s policies are shaped by forecasts and projections, many of which have proven to be less effective than guessing. So much of life is influenced by well meaning people who are simply trying to find a way to tell the future. No matter how well educated their experience or well-meaning their intentions, their efforts fall short, often with devastating results.

The Lord warns his people against developing any structure – governmental, environmental, financial, social – that does not place Him clearly at the center of any policy or action. God clearly points out the self-serving yet futile natures of the nations surrounding Israel. He warns them not to be influenced by their processes. In fact, God promises to drive these nations them out of their lands. This is so when Israel possesses the land, they also implement a completely new structure and system; one that is dependant upon God, and not mankind’s delusional attempts for self governance and self reliance.

The church can even get caught up in the “talking head” approach to life. We can place issues ahead of individuals, policy ahead of people. But God calls us to live blameless. God invites us to live dependant. God frees us to live obediently.

Prayer:
Lord, dispossess us of from our self-importance. Drive out the abomination of self-serving pride from my life that I may live in the promise you’ve appointed for me.

About Pride

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Pride category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Integrity is the previous category.

Reputation is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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