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October 10, 2015

Text: “For by the grace given to me I say to every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12: 3

Years ago there was an old joke going around about a man so humble that his fellow workers gave him a medal for his humility. However, they revoked his medal because he wore it!  This bit of humor is not only funny, it also warns us about flaunting ourselves. We humans love to vaunt ourselves: our looks, our education, our IQ, and our accomplishments.

As some say, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” Pride is a pitfall and puts others off.  It makes others angry and resentful. It appears to others that you want them to fawn on you. Pride tells others that you are seeking compliments and adoration.  Remember: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18 

Most humans are afflicted with pride and even act haughty and arrogant from time to time. The Bible has little good to say about pride. Moreover, there are several examples which reveal characters who are beset with pride and the results leading to their undoing.

The menacing giant Goliath, a Philistine soldier, taunted his opponent, a 17 year old shepherd called David, armed only with a sling and five stones.  He disdained David and said to him, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the field.”  We all know what happened to Goliath; the shepherd boy David stunned the giant and lopped off his head with his own sword. Bold pride caused his over-confidence and punishment. Our own time spawns overabundance of self-admiration. That is an invitation to self destruction!

Another example is Absalom, one of the sons of King David. Evidently he kept wearing out mirrors looking at himself! “Now in all Israel there was no one so to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom.” II Samuel 14:25a  His long hair was his pride. He engineered a coup to usurp his father David and take the crown for himself. A war ensued between David and his son, driving David from Jerusalem. The climax came in a battle in a forest. Absalom was riding a mule and tried to go under a low hanging branch. His hair was entangled  in the oak tree, and the mule left him suspended there. When he was found, his predicament was reported to Joab, David’s general. That treacherous warrior thrust  three javelins at Absalom and then allowed his soldiers to finish the job. ( II Samuel 18:14-15) Pride and ambition are a deadly combination. Beware!

There are also examples of humble humans in the Bible.  Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer was a boast about his own self-righteousness and superiority to other men. But the tax collector prayed thusly, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Luke 18:13  Jesus testified to his hearers, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other, For everyone  who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 That is plain and straightforward. It demonstrates how God assesses the self promoter and also the humbled man.

Let us not overlook another humble man…John the Baptist. John accepted the function that God gave him. John the apostle disclosed the forerunner of Jesus in his gospel account.  “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to bear witness about  the light.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. that all might believe through him.” John 1:6-7  The disciples of the Baptist confronted him regarding the rise of the popularity of Jesus and the decline of John’s ministry. But the Baptist insisted again that he had been given a role to fulfill, but Jesus had been given a greater assignment. He concludes by saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30  John did not seek fame or adoration but described himself as a harbinger. A truly humble man!

Examples have been cited from God’s word of both pride and humility. In our text above Paul encourages us to choose our course between the two. That is a sobering undertaking.  You must choose the proper path and commit yourself to it.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10


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