Dear Fellow Children of God,
Many of you know that while in Germany this past fall Kathy and I bought a cuckoo clock, something we regretted not doing 10 years ago. So, recently I had finished my sermon and other work for Sunday worship early on a Saturday. As Kathy was standing in the kitchen I walked up to her and said, “Well, my sermon is done.” Then the Cuckoo went off. Kathy looked me straight in the eye and said, “You see what the clock thinks of your sermon.” We both laughed. Maybe she laughed a little more than I did. But there is a lesson here worth learning for all. Humility is good.
Scripture is full of teaching on the dangers of pride and the wisdom of humility. Proverbs 11:2 is one of those verses. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Or, maybe you know Jesus’ often repeated words, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Pride is ultimately trust in ourselves. Pride is trust in one’s own wisdom, or trust in one’s own strength, or trust even in one’s own righteousness. No wonder there is danger in pride. If we trust our wisdom, do we forget the wisdom of God? If we trust our righteousness, do we forget our sin and the grace of God? Unfortunately, even for Christians the answer to these questions is, “Yes.”
About 30 years ago a Christian scholar told me the number one response to the survey question, “How would you characterize Christians?” The answer to that question 30 years ago was “arrogant.” Christians were perceived as being proud and looking down on others. Recent study tells me Christians still struggle with this public perception, sometimes for good reason. We need to learn again and again the lessons of Scripture on pride and humility.
If we are honest with ourselves we do not have reason for personal pride. God tells us through Paul, "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12). An appropriate attitude toward God and toward others truly is humility. We are sinners who have been selfish, or hateful, and not loved God as we should. We need the guidance of God for our lives. We need forgiveness for our sinfulness just as others do. We really don’t have reason to be proud, but do have reason for humility.
So, how can we overcome our pride and perceived arrogance? Perhaps another verse from Romans can help. Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) When we deserved punishment and death, God gave love and sacrifice, forgiveness and life, in Jesus. So, we willingly look to God for wisdom, because He loves us in spite of our sin. We trust God’s strength knowing our weakness, because Jesus overcame sin and death when we could not. We trust God for righteousness in thankful humility because of Jesus, rather than living in pride that separates us from God and others.
If I remember correctly the sermon went well the next day in worship. Hopefully, that is because I was sharing God’s Word and His wisdom rather than my own. God’s words through Solomon can give real direction for our lives. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I also know my wife has a gift for keeping me humble.
A Child of God, Seeking Humility,
P.S. If you are friends with ‘Kathy Tobin Rockey’ on Facebook, here is Kathy’s video of our new clock. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/photo.php?v=10152325815655494&set=vb.721360493&type=3&theater
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