Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together! My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever,[a] their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.[b]Selah Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah
Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 49:11Septuagint, Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Their inward thought was that their homes were forever
Psalm 49:13Or and of those after them who approve of their boasts
There is nothing of God in your pride or self-professed righteousness. Pride is all about what you want for yourself, what you like for yourself, what you do for yourself and any other self-seeking pleasures you decide to pursue (for yourself). There is no room for God in this scenario because there is no room for the needs of other people.
Today’s lesson: Get over yourself. It’s an easy process once you commit to it and it’s far more fulfilling than anything you can ever do for yourself in your own power.
Step 1: Look at someone else. Really see them.
Step 2: Ask someone about their life. Really hear them.
Step 3: Fill a need. There is always a way to be helpful to others. You simply have to be present and willing to be of service.
I’ve learned over the years that when I stand in my own importance, my own right, my own preferences at the detriment of another that the struggle with that person becomes intense and painful. These struggles always last much longer than any of the conflicts do where I CHOOSE to make an effort to see the issue from the other person’s perspective. When I step out of my own sense of self and attempt to understand the needs of the other person, the conflict lessens, and the hostilities dissipate. Even when I don’t agree. Even when I don’t want to soothe things over – i.e. I would rather fight until I dominate the other person. Even when I really want my own way. When I overcome myself, the battle with the other person is basically over… because my true fight is with my pride.
I am continually amazed by the near immediate diffusion of tensions when I am able to communicate an appreciation or understanding of the other person’s point or position. I may not agree with them, but I can begin to see where they are coming from. And that within itself is the beginning of a meeting of minds, also known as agreement and unity.
Today’s lesson: God is not interested in what you think of yourself when your thoughts do not line up with His thoughts for you and your relationships. It is important to know what God thinks of you, how He hears you and how He sees you. It does your life no good for God to be against you… or rather, for you to be against God. So lay down your pride and avoid experiencing God’s opposition to you. Embrace humbleness in your spirit and experience God’s abounding grace.
I’ve been wanting to do a series on pride for months now. The desire was particularly strong during Pride month when it struck me how proud people are of the sins they commit against themselves and against God. So proud, in fact, that they not only justify the sin, they celebrate it. This is not an attack against any particular sin, it’s an attack against all sin. No sin is better than any other. And just because you commit a sin that makes you feel good doesn’t make the sin good.
Today’s lesson: The sin you’re proud of, is the sin that will destroy you. Destruction comes in many forms, but ultimately, destruction is separation from God. Luckily for each of us, God has made a way for us all to get right with Him.
Pride. Such a simple word capable of great destruction.
Pride doesn’t necessarily start off looking like a bad thing, though. People can “be proud of” someone and proud of their accomplishments. If it stops there – simply an impressed celebratory reaction to an element of life – no big deal. But pride rarely stops there.
Look at sports fanatics and political diehards for example. The fanatic and the diehard started out as people who were most likely proud of some aspect of the team or political leanings they support. However repeated exposure to the object or idea of their pride increases their intensity.
We may not all be fanatics or diehards with our pride, but we are all affected when we elevate any thought in our hearts and mind. Eventually, our spirits are exposed to the corrosive side-effect of pride.
Pride is a spirit fueled by the idea that we are greater than what we are. We come to believe our greatness is greater than those who disagree with us and maybe even those who do agree with us.
We are created in the likeness of greatness, but we were not created to be greater than our Creator or our co-creation. When we are able to accept our greatness with a humbleness of spirit – which is knowledge that all that we are is a gift of grace not an act of our will or product of our effort – only then will we walk clear of the fall pride has prepared for us.
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. ~ John 15:20
I would like to humbly say that I am a humble person, but chances are that statement would have more of a prideful boast to it than a humble acceptance.
I don’t think I’m the most proud person I’ve encountered on earth, but apparently some overbearing arrogance stubbornly clings to my character. I’ve noticed recently that my pride is strongest when I’m hurt the most. It’s something about the need to project an air of confidence when I feel the most fragile. Something about the need to assert my importance and value when I feel the most worthless and disposable to others. I’ve been on a tear lately and I’ve tried to give myself time to calm down and re-focus. Something I’ve learned is that my perspective of myself doesn’t change as long as I’m in my own head, in my own space and in my own world. It just took a not-so-subtle set-down from my boss to kick me out of my mental Queendom of Shawnda Land. I needed that.
Insecurity. That’s what I’m wallowing in. A whole bunch of insecurity and uncertainty about my life. And that changed me into a person whom I really don’t know or like. Apparently, others don’t like her either.
The Pride-Full Shawnda was also the Shawnda who was hurt beyond her ability to articulate her pain. Pride came along to bolster her up. To puff her up. To give her a sense of being and substance. Pride told her she was important to herself even if others did not esteem her at all. Pride made her think that the more she esteemed herself, the more others would also. But Pride failed.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? ~ Job 38:4-7
It certainly wasn’t me. I hadn’t been there. Nothing can make you feel as insignificant as contemplating the incomprehensible vastness of God’s creative glory. Yet this same glory is also the one thing that makes you feel the most significant when you see yourself as part of His vast creation. In all His incomprehensible glory, God saw fit to create me and you. He created us with such infinite detail that we can’t begin to know anything about ourselves until we begin to know something about Him, our Lord and Creator.
Pride indeed failed to puff me up, but God never fails to fill me with His presence again and again.
You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:17
I’ve been in Italy for over a week now visiting churches, cathedrals, chapels, basilicas, baptisteries, temples and monuments. Oh and the Vatican…. We’ve stopped in Rome, Vatican City, Pompeii, Assisi, Florence, Bologna and Venice. I‘ve been stuffed with historical commentary from around 200 years before Christ to the Italian Renaissance period (early 1600’s).
This trip has been completely overwhelming to my senses, to my thoughts and to my desire to study and explore Christian history and its place in world history. For example, did you know that the tribe that settled on the Tiber River and called their new home Rome were known as Latins and migrated from Asia (specifically, Turkey)? Over the centuries of setting up military/political bases, acquiring land and assimilating peoples throughout their known world, they were basically conquered by Christianity. I don’t know about you, but that’s an amazing concept to me. Even so, as one of the ladies in my group said, I’m completely churched out! And as one of the tour guides said, my eyes are exhausted from all that they’ve seen.
Despite the outwardly Christian focus of the tour (religious sites, structures and history), I did not feel the presence of God in any of those buildings nor did I hear Him in any of those stories. I was awed, impressed and even overwhelmed. The beauty, artistry, architectural design and creative genius are all beyond description by words and photos. The structures are filled with icons, idols, statues, relics and images dedicated to Christ and His followers, indeed the story of God. However the motivation to depict these images came from a desire to glorify man. The purpose was to praise man’s talents, beauty and ingenuity. Most of the visual representation for the images came from some element of the artist’s life or the preferences of the financial sponsor (in many cases church leaders). Wealthy families usually bought their sons leadership positions in the church. And only the wealthy had access to the written word of God. Money and power decided what would be depicted in structures claiming to be houses of God. Pride of man was the force behind keeping the true Word of God from the masses.
For example, the pope that sponsored the Sistine Chapel hand-picked the popes and bishops he wanted to recognize with statues in the chapel. And because he was financing the project, he made sure he was one of the few featured.
As awesome as Michelangelo’s David is in person, it was apparently just as scandalous during the time of its creation. David was commissioned for a church in Florence. Michelangelo, who was known for doing things his way and keeping his works in progress out of the public eye, did not bother to share his concept or inspiration with anyone until David was completed. According to the guide, the Florentines were scandalized and David (mind you, the sculpture is a depiction of David right before he slings his stone at Goliath) never made it into a church.
I never understood the idea of “patron saints”, but here in Italy, it’s so clear. Structures, monuments and towns were built and dedicated to people who were then declared to be the protectors of that space (or trade). And people pray to these people for whatever area they offer protection in. St. Mark (as in Mark of the Gospels, aka follower of Jesus Christ) is the patron saint of Venice. Rumor has it that some Venetian merchants stole his bones and brought them to Venice so they could claim him. Mind you, both Peter and Paul are said to be in Rome. Italians are a competitive lot! St. Peter’s Basilica was built in Peter’s honor, hundreds of years after he died, upon the traditional site he was crucified (Vatican City was created to encapsulate that site hundreds of years later). Until recently, St. Peter’s Basilica was the largest church ever built – a point of pride, to be sure.
On a spiritual level, I was disconcerted to realize that the modern church congregations I’ve been struggling with are no different than the ancient edifices I’ve visited this week. Man is featured prominently in all his vainglorious pride. In all his “ordained” specialness. And, in all man’s glory he blocks God from the sight of people.
Who are you building for?
Who are you living for?
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
I am living and building for my God.
When you dedicate yourself – your life – to God, when you submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and lean on the teachings of Jesus Christ everything you do is imbued with His essence. Everything. You don’t have to draw attention to yourself, however people will be drawn to you – not because of who you are but because of whose you are. The scent of Christ wafts about you, drawing those who are meant to be drawn to receive what is intended for them to receive. His light brightens your countenance and shines in your eyes (2 Cor 3:7). You may not be able to see it in yourself, but when you commit your life to God, you become a beacon for others to find Him.
Who are you building for? Who are you living for?
A life committed to self – whatever pleasures you seek (non-covenant relationships, money, status, entertainment, distractions, etc.) – guarantees you are outside the will of God and each choice that profits you distances you further from Him. Whereas, God blesses those who seek Him to such a degree that we become a blessing to others.
How can you actively seek the Lord your God?
Begin and end with praising Him. Express your gratitude for all He has done for you. And in everything you do, do it to glorify God. Can God be seen in the work of your hands? Is the image of Jesus Christ reflected upon your actions? Is the essence of the Holy Spirit wafting throughout your results?
If you answered “no” to those three questions, then you are not building for God… but you can chose to begin doing so today – this moment.
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.~ 1 Corinthians 3:10-15