Tag Archives: Christian

Don’t Be a Goat

James 2:15-17  KJV

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

It’s a question that goes back to the very beginning of the Bible. Am I My Brother’s Keeper? This is what Cain asked God when God asked him what happened to his brother Abel after Cain had killed him (Gen 4:8-9). And God answered him by relegating him to the backside of the desert and marking him for life.  Still, Cain built up an empire that was against God. And nothing good came out of Cain.

Here James is making a valid point about how we should be treat others if we consider ourselves Christians.  If we came across a situation where someone needed our help, would we do what we could to help them, or just issue them a blessing and tell them to be on  their way?
A passage in the New Testament that is used quite often when we talk about how we should treat our fellow man.  It is found in Matthew 25.

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

You notice that the ones on the left don’t have much of a future because they did not ministered to their brother and sister. This shows how important works are. Even Jesus shows us that importance in this short little passage the tells us whenever we do something for somebody else it’s like doing it for Him. Now we have to remember that this doesn’t only go for the good things we do to others but also the bad things we do to others. Jesus doesn’t mention that but we can apply it from what He says. If we’re backbiting or gossiping, if we’re speaking ill about somebody, if we’re bickering and complaining and murmuring about leadership, whether it’s in the workplace or in the church, we’re doing it to Jesus. Have you ever thought about it that way?
Once we are saved, which is a work that is done by grace through faith, works becomes an essential part of our growth as a Christian.  These words of Jesus tell us that if we do not assist those who are hurting and needy, then we will “go into everlasting punishment”.  Does that speak of the essential part works plays in our salvation or not?  We must be about the Father’s business!

 

Pride Part 4

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 (link) of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study. In Part 2 (link), we looked at two examples of prideful people – one obvious and one not so obvious, to set the stage for this post. In Part 3 (link), we looked at three ways pride manifests itself in people, one of which ran my life. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others most of us would never guess that pride was at the center of it.

Why are we looking at pride? Because getting pride out of our lives helps us become closer to God.

Here are four more ways pride appears in people – including two more that I allowed to control me. These types of pride are taken from Irresistible to God1 a book by Steve Gallagher. Steve Gallagher is the found of Pure Life Ministries, and has written several books that can help us all draw closer to God. They can easily be found on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

Unapproachable Pride – This person hates correction, no matter who it comes from, including God. They think they are right, so they won’t listen. “No one can tell me I’m wrong. If I am, I’ll figure it out”

Know-It-All Pride – This was my biggest area of pride when I first became aware of the pride I carried around. No one could tell me anything, especially about the Bible. I’d read it through at least 10 times front to back, studied all over the place, was an evangelist and teacher. I knew it all, or so I thought. This person is typically gifted and very talented. It’s easy for them to think they can’t ever be taught anything new. Their opinions are always more valuable than anyone else’s. You will hear this person say one thing over and over – “I know.” As my former pastor said to me when my sin was exposed – “No, you don’t know.” And I didn’t.

Another characteristic of the know-it-all is their distrust in the ability of others. They have a need to belittle the ability of others, and think they can do it better themselves. They often are ineffectual at delegating because they will eventually do it themselves. I still have problems with this as I am constantly reminding my wife of this little thing or that when she has a much better memory than I do. This is pride that must be in control. The controlling tendency is one of the biggest things people see, and also one of the hardest to defeat in our lives.

Rebellion – Do you know people who have a problem submitting to authority? It can be in the workplace, the church, their family or even in submitting to God! That is the result of this manifestation of pride. They gripe and complain about the people God has put in authority over them, and will do anything to undermine their authority. They refuse to submit, or do it very reluctantly. They want to do things their way, and try to get away with it. “I’m not going to listen to them. I’ll do it my way”

Spiritual Pride – This was the third type I really struggled with. I’m more spiritual than they are, so they just need to grow up a little. Don’t they know this message from our pastor is just right for them? I sure hope they are listening. It’s too bad Old Joe isn’t here today – he needs this message more than anyone. Those are just a few of the thoughts that used to go through my mind when my spiritual pride was in gear. I thought I was better, and they all needed to measure up to my standards.

This person also probably is continuing in unrepentant sin, even though he has that holier than thou attitude. I was so deceived by my pride that when I would almost get caught in my sin, I would praise God for allowing me to get away with it. I thought it was His way of saying it was OK that I was still caught up in that sin. Now how crazy is that line of thought? And how deceptive pride is!

These 7 types of pride are pretty all encompassing, but let me give you some other things that pride will cause us to do:

Pride will: produce an unteachable spirit, lead to stinginess, not admit mistakes, use sarcastic humor, make me feel more important than others, produce a lack of forgiveness, produce self-pity, cause impatience with others, produce discontentment, make excuses, produce insecurity or low-self-esteem, be envious or jealous, make us ungrateful, make us suspicious, find fault in others.

There are more – the list is long. I am sure you can see how un-Christian these traits are. All you have to do is go to I Cor 13:4-8 and compare these to the attributes of love, and you know that if you are displaying these things, you are not loving the way God wants you to.

The big question is – do you see yourself in any of these descriptions? If you do, then I suggest you open yourself up to the possibility that pride is in you. It must be confronted early, because it will only grow: and when it does, it will hide itself from you! That is the big danger with pride. Believe me, I was steeped in pride, and I thought I was very humble!

Why is it important that you deal with it now? Watch for part 5, and you will see how God feels about pride. Then you will know why it is so essential to take care of it and learn to control your pride and ask someone close to you to help keep you in check.

1 Irresistible to God. Steve Gallagher. Copyright 2003 Pure Life Ministries

 

Pride Part 3

Pride – Part 3

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 (link) of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study, In Part 2 (link), we looked at two examples of prideful people – one obvious and one not so obvious, to set the stage for this post. In this third installment, we are going to look at various ways pride manifests itself in people. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others most of us would never guess that pride was at the center of it.

You might recall that I gave pride a new definition in the last post. I define pride as an inordinate amount of attention to self: Self-love: Making everything about oneself. You may say that this is what you always thought pride was, and I would ask you if you mean a prideful person can be the quiet shy type who avoids others because he/she has low self-esteem. Most of you would probably say that person is not prideful, but I see that they are very prideful – they have a lot of attention on self. So, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get started with Part 3.

I am going reference a book entitled “Irresistible to God”1 by Steve Gallagher several times in this post. Steve Gallagher is the founder of Pure Live Ministries (See Part 1), and has done an excellent study into the effects of pride on a person, among other great books he has written. All of his books are available on Amazon, and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get more of this world out of their system. In “Irresistible to God,” Steve deals with pride, and how getting pride out of our lives helps us become like the title of the book.

The first thing you must recognize about pride is that if you have it, you will deny it. Gallagher writes “Pride is so extremely subtle that many actually think they have little or none of it within them. The truth is that it has the ability to mask its presence within a person’s heart. In fact, it is usually true that the more a person has, the less he is aware of it.”1 The problem we face is that not only is pride hidden within from the person afflicted by it, it is also a very dangerous trait to a Christian. Gallagher writes “Pride is the governing principle of hell and the unredeemed world it influences. It causes strife in the home, in the workplace, the political arena and yes, even the Christian community.”1 It becomes paramount to rid a person, especially a Christian, of any pride they might have.

I was a prime example of someone who had no idea pride was in my life. I should have known, because my wife kept telling me I was full of pride. No one else saw it, especially not me. Everyone else simply thought I was an outgoing guy who loved to chip in and help whenever I could, loved to be center stage whenever possible, and thought nothing of volunteering for special singing or filling the pulpit. But it was all me wanting attention – pride! Oh, how I wish I had listened to my wife those many years she told me pride was a problem. Heck, I thought I was humble – really!

Gallagher lists seven types of pride in his book. I will use these types to show the various ways pride can manifest itself in a person’s life, including a Christian. These seven types are: a haughty spirit, vanity, self-protection, unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride. The three I was most guilty of were know-it-all pride, spiritual pride and self-protection. As we go through these one by one, I urge you to take a hard look at yourself and see if anything fits. Remember that if you have pride, no one will ever be able to convince you that you have it. The Holy Spirit has to do that work in you. So, allow Him to search your heart as I discuss each of these types.

A Haughty Spirit – This is the type all of us would probably agree is pride. These folks think they are better than others. We see them a lot and recognize the pride in their lives. But the haughty spirit is not limited to that picture. Because of thinking they are better, a haughty spirit leads them to be judgmental and critical of others. Have you ever met a person who is always saying negative things about other people? They constantly find wrong in them and make sure everyone knows about it. Or they compare one person to another all the time, wondering why the one doesn’t shape up! This is all haughty spirit pride because it puts this person above others. “I am the best!”

Another way the haughty spirit can manifest itself is with long-time saints and new converts. The long-time saints see themselves as having gone through the fire, and just wish the new converts would get their act together and get rid of some of those little annoyances that plague them, like dressing the wrong way, or bad language, or smoking. The list goes on and on. Sorry all you long-time saints – to me this is one of the worst kinds of pride. Let God do that work on those new saints!

I was guilty of the first part of this, not the second. But it was subtle. I rarely would be judgmental of others to their face, but deep inside I did believe I was better than most. “I could have preached that message better.” “I do a better job leading worship”. “Don’t they know how to put a worship service together?” These are all things that would go through my head.

Vanity – We all know people who fit this category of pride. They do anything necessary to get approval from others. All they care about is being accepted, even if it means compromising on all their values. They so care about what others think that they might do drugs or wear a lot of make-up, or have sex, or go to this church or that church or dress a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way. They might join every committee in the church and work in the church like mad just to gain the acceptance of others. It’s all vanity, and it’s pride. “I have to be liked, whatever it takes.”

Another example of this which is affecting the church today is pastors and leaders who will not preach on certain subjects because they want to please the congregation and not step on any toes. They want everyone to like them, so they won’t challenge the people on issues like heaven and hell, or tithing or complete surrender to Jesus. They will stay away from social issues of the day. These pastors are vain, and pride is hurting the church.

Self-Protection – This person is extremely defensive and easily offended. You have to be really careful taking on any subject with them because they will always be on the defensive and before you know it they will get offended by something you say or do, and they will either be quiet or storm off. They are protecting themselves, and won’t let anybody get too close to them. Their protection comes first at any cost. “My needs first and I will defend them!”

Another manifestation of self-protection pride is sarcasm. People who constantly use sarcasm as a method of defense are all around us. I think of the TV show M.A.S.H. Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is a prime example of this kind of pride. Almost every word out of his mouth is sarcasm. I don’t know many people who are that bad, but I’d bet we all know people who use sarcasm to deflect difficult questions.

The way I used self-protection was as a defense mechanism. Whenever someone would try to correct me, or tell me I was doing wrong, I would put up a defense as good as any attorney. I rarely got offended, but often would offend the other people when this type of argument came up. And I was really good at sarcasm, still am today. I have to be very careful when I get into discussions that might get a little controversial, because my sarcasm often comes out faster than can catch it

Next Saturday, I’ll cover unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride, and talk about how know-it-all pride and spiritual pride manifested itself in me. I hope you’ll come back and visit for Part 4 in the Pride series. And thanks for reading and commenting.

1 Irresistible to God. Steve Gallagher. Copyright 2003 Pure Life Ministries

Pride Part 2

He is obvious. He walks in the room with an air of confidence that can be seen with each step he takes. Everyone turns and acknowledges him, and he just smiles. He walks up to some people in a group talking and immediately takes over the conversation. Several more people gather around him as well, because they know he speaks with confidence. He doesn’t seem to care that he is the only one talking. Through the evening, he goes from one person to another initiating conversation, introducing himself to those he doesn’t know and just being the life of the party. He is self-assured, confident and knowledgeable. When he leaves, it seems the party just isn’t the same, and you hear one of the newcomers say “Man, who was that guy? He sure is arrogant!”

This is the picture we usually get when we talk about a prideful person. Someone who is so full of themselves that they spill out on everyone else. I know because that was me several years ago. Especially in business, I carried myself with such confidence it made people believe about anything I’d say. And it brought me success! I looked at it as a real positive in my life. But it became my downfall. Pride always will.

But pride goes much further than this picture. In this installment, I want to look at what pride really is – how can we define it properly to take in all the ways it manifests itself in people’s lives. Most people think the above example is the epitome of prideful behavior, but I can tell you it is vastly different than that.

Webster’s dictionary defines pride this way:
1. 1: the quality or state of being proud: as  a : inordinate self-esteem : conceit  b : a reasonable or justifiable self-respect  c : delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship 2. 2: proud or disdainful behavior or treatment : disdain
3. 3a : ostentatious display

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Isn’t that how we see pride? This is the common understanding of what pride is. Going by this definition, it would be easy to see pride in ourselves and be able to deal with it, don’t you think? Maybe, although most people I know who fit that description rarely correct that behavior myself formerly included.

But pride is so much more than this. I want to give you a new definition of pride. One that expands the scope of the attribute into a much wider bunch of people. One that will help you understand better why God hates pride so much. And one that will make you really reach inside yourself and search to make sure there really is no pride in you.

My new definition of pride is an inordinate amount of attention to self: Self-love: Making everything about oneself.

On the surface, this might not look a whole lot different than the definition we already accept, but it is vastly different. Let me give you an example that will throw you a real loop. In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that I spent 8 months at Pure Life Ministries, where everyone had a pride problem. I remember one particular person there named Brian. Brian was small in stature, skinny, balding head and glasses. But the thing that really sticks with me about Brian was that when he first got there, he was so quiet. Unbelievable quiet. He was so shy that if he wanted to talk to you, he would come up beside your bunk bed and stand there looking at you until you started up the conversation. Now I thought this guy was meek and shy. I mean, he seemed to have no self-confidence at all. What was he doing in a room full of loud, arrogant, prideful guys?

The fact of the matter is that Brian had just as much pride as any of the rest of us. Brian was so self-absorbed that he was afraid to speak up. He had been ridiculed and put down most of his life and he had just crawled inside himself and shut the door! He just kept to himself and cared for himself. No one and nothing else mattered. This is just as prideful as the loud arrogant ones, maybe even more. He was completely into himself, and that is what pride is – self is all that matters. What I want the way I want it.

Have I got you thinking now? We see that pride takes on many different forms, and I will talk more about that in the third part of this series next time. Between now and then, feel free to comment about what other types of people have a pride problem, and we will get a discussion going. There are a lot more, believe me. Once we have identified that, in Part 4 we will look at what God says about pride, and what the antidote is. It will be a fascinating journey.

 

Pride Part 1

This is a repost of this series.  I decided to run it now because it will help set the focus for the rest of our study in James.  As we have been walking through James, we have already seen pride in the picture several times and as we go on we will continue to see pride come into play.  My hope is that running this series now will open up your heart and eyes to any pride that is not under control in your life so you can get the most out of the teaching to come.  The next 4 days I will post the rest of this series.  I welcome your feedback.

I wrote this 5 part study on pride in hopes that all of us will look deep inside ourselves and make sure that our pride is under control. In my experience, if your immediate reaction to that statement is that yours is, it probably is not. I have been there before, and hope to never again have unrecognized pride in my life. This is a first installment to give you some background.

One of the most fascinating things about pride is that it hides itself from the individual who is afflicted by it. I bet all of us have seen people who are full of pride and wonder why they don’t take care of that attitude. Don’t they know it is unattractive and a big turn-off? Well, no they don’t. In fact, they don’t even see it.

The second thing about pride is that no one can tell you that you have too much pride.  You won’t believe them.  Only the Holy Spirit can convict you of pride  Unless you get to the place you really want God to search your heart on this subject, and are ready to listen to God, you will never get pride under control.  Let me take a moment to share my story with you.

I was a worship leader, Sunday school teacher, youth minister and fill in preacher at my church. I also filled in at other churches occasionally. I was looked upon by those around me as having it all together and one that loved the Lord. And I did love the Lord, and I loved ministry. My wife, on the other hand, saw the pride in my life and kept telling me it was there, but I would not listen. In fact, I kept explaining to her.  That is His job.  So until you are ready to listen to God and allow Him to search your heart for this nastiest of al traits, you will nevber even try to be rid of it, or have it under coontrol.   that I was a humble servant of God, and many others saw me that way.

But the real truth lay in the fact that when I was alone, I was living a depraved lifestyle. I will not go into details, but I was not living as a Christian, but as a heathen. The things I was doing were expressly condemned in God’s word, and I knew he Bible, believe me. I knew they were wrong. But I thought God would overlook those things. In fact, whenever I had a close call to someone discovering my sinful ways, I always thanked God for warning me ahead of time so I could clean things up.

Well, as we all know, what is kept secret will eventually come out, and mine did. And it cost me big time. In my pride, I violated a major policy in my workplace, one that I had written, and I got caught. I was immediately terminated after 20 years of working for the company. My pastor, who had known about my sin from a previous exposure and had worked hard with me to get deliverance before I started up again, told me I was not welcome in his church any longer unless I got help. And I did get help.

I went to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky for 8 months. 8 months of hard work, bunk beds, dorm style living and intense bible study. 8 months of counseling, which showed me the pride that was so rampant in my life. 8 months of squashing it down and bringing humility to the forefront. Heck, I was so prideful, I was even proud of my pride! When I look back on who I was it sickens me.

When I got home, I spent 2 years doing no ministry at all. Just sat in the pew and took things in. I learned to listen to my wife, who can spot my pride in a heartbeat. She has been a God send in keeping me on the right path. I am a much more reserved, quiet person than I was before. And I like that.

So in this first installment on pride, I will end with this warning. If you are a Christian, and you are doing something that is blatantly sinful, and thinking God will overlook it, that is pride at its worst. God will not overlook disobedience, which is the core of sin. The problem is, that if you are reading this and if you are doing what I suggested, you most likely will say that you are not a prideful person, and you will ignore the warning, because your pride will tell you that it does not apply. You’re special to God. You don’t have to be perfect. A little sin will keep you humble. That’s why God allows you to keep it.

My friend, all of that is hogwash! And if you are telling yourself that right now, then you need to seriously ask God to search you and try you, and tell you if pride is running your life. Seriously, as if you’re life depended on it, because it does. God hates pride! And He will not allow it into heaven, so you better get rid of it now.

In the next post, we will examine what pride is. I always thought I knew, but found out it takes on forms I was completely unaware of. I hope you’ll come back.