Tag Archives: Self examination

Pride – Part 4

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1  of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study. In Part 2 , 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.  We are planning to have Part 5 come out on January 7th, after the holidays.  Until then, I encourage you to search your heart and ask God to reveal any pride that you may have to you.

 

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

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Pride – Part 3

In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study, In Part 2, 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

The Attitude of Gratitude.

Philippians 4:8 Part 8

Finally, brethren,

whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue,

and if there be any praise,

think on these things.

 

 

How thankful are you?  Are you someone who rarely says thank you to those around you?  Do you tend to find fault everywhere you turn?  I bet if you’re not that person you know someone who is.  There are plenty of people who fit that description.

 

I bet there were the same type of people back in Paul’s day.  Ungrateful, not responsible, not accountable.  They refuse to acknowledge the good deeds of others, preferring instead to find the one thing that wasn’t done right.  The scribes and Pharisees in Jesus day are a perfect example.  Look at all the good Jesus was doing, yet all they could see was the people following Him instead of them.

 

If there be any praise, think on these things.  Now we start out by giving praise to God, of course.  And there is NEVER a time that He is not worthy of our praise – NEVER.  No matter what is going wrong in your life, there are a million things going right that you can praise Him for unless you are dead, and then hopefully you will be praising Him in heaven.  There is always reason to give Him praise!  Are you breathing?  Praise Him for the sair He supplies.  Can you see? Praise Him for the sunlight, even on the cloudy days it’s still there!  Are you sick?  Praise Him that your blood is still flowing through your body.  Do you have cancer (Yes, I do)?  Praise Him that your breathing, that He gave the doctors amazing knowledge, that you still have sight, hearing, taste, touch, the list is endless of things I can praise Him for, not matter what my situation.  Give Him praise.

 

But this verse goes beyond that.  If there be any praise!  What about that janitor in your church who does such a good job – doesn’t he deserve some praise?  How about the grocery clerk who helped you out with your groceries?  Or the bank teller who helps you with a transaction?  Or the convenience store clerk who assisted you today?  Don; these people deserved praise – in the way of a thank you?  A simple thank you is praise in it’s simplest form. And we as a church need to be doing more of it.  An attitude of gratitude is what it is often called.

 

Our world today has lost a lot in this area, and we need to show the way.  We as a church should be the most grateful people alive.  We should never have reason to gripe and complain.  So many blessings have been lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father.  Let’s let the world know that gratitude is he way to go!

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: asa :  inordinate self-esteem :  conceitb :  a reasonable or justifiable self-respectc :  delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship <parental pride>
  2. 2: proud or disdainful behavior or treatment :  disdain
  3. 3a:  ostentatious display

 

Sounds abut 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.

 

 

Virtual Reality vs. Virtue

Philippians 4:8 Part 7

Finally, brethren,

whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue,

and if there be any praise,

think on these things.

 

Virtue is an interesting word, isn’t it?  Before doing this study, I thought of virtue as decent, respectful and with integrity and high moral standards.  And I was partially right.  I looked it up!  In the Greek this word means excellence and is translated hat way for this verse in the New American Standard Bible and the NIV.  This excellence is an excellence of moral character according to Strong’s.

As I look in Webster’s dictionary, virtue takes on many more meanings.  It says behavior that shows high moral character and then it lists synonyms for virtue which is quite a list of things: 
goodness
, virtuousness, righteousnessmoralityintegritydignity,rectitudehonordecencyrespectabilitynobility, worthiness and purity.  Now that’s quite a list!

As we look over this list, we can see how far our culture has moved away from virtue.  We see corruption I our highest government offices, and a lack of high moral character there as well.  Dignity and decency have gone out the window in our society (have you ever seen pictures from a gay pride parade?), and our internet is filled with all kinds of indecency and deception.  ESPN gave its highest honor to a man who became a woman!  What does that tell us?  Virtue is disappearing from our landscape.  The church must stay relevant and virtuous, or all hope is lost for our country.

Paul changes the wording here to say that if there is any virtue, we should think about that.  Maybe he foresaw the day when virtue would start to fade in our cultures.  Paul knows the value of virtue in a society having seen the atrocities of Rome first hand.  He knows that a society that starts to lose virtue will implode eventually.

The church must not let that happen.  We need to rise up a virtuous army of people and restore decency to our culture.  It’s not up to our politicians to do this, it’s the church’s responsibility.  This is what 2 Chronicles 7:14 is all about.  Each of us, individually, becoming virtuous and praying for or nation.  Let’s make virtue more common than virtual reality once again!

You Are A Temple!

Psalm 48

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

These two verses also make up an old gospel chorus which I have recorded for you.  Hope it’s OK!

Is there any doubt in your mind that God is greatly to be praised!  He is the  creator of all  that you see, hear, smell,  touch and taste.  What an amazing imagination He has to develop all of the different kinds of species in every category.  It’s overwhelming  to think about!

He’s beautiful for situations!  What a wonderful use of words here.  We can be assured that God is aware of our  situations, and will  come to our rescue if we need Him to.  It may  not be when we think He should come, but He is never late.  if a situation goes on longer than you’d like, He has a purpose for that.  Just  trust Him.

God is known in her palaces for a refuge.

For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.

They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.

Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.

Again David talks about God is known as the refuge.  Then he makes an interesting observation – he says that all the kings came together and they passed by God’s palace and when they saw it they marveled. But they also were trouble and they took off right away because fear came on them.

When we are protected by the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and God is our place of refuge, the enemy will have a much harder time getting to us.  In fact, often he will turn and run before he attacks us. But this takes a very strong commitment – one that I know I have not made. It takes a daily prayer life – not just for yourself but interceding for others. It takes a daily time of worship.  I am the temple of God (2 Cor 6:19). so I should be a place of worship. It takes a time of being still and hearing from God, asking him to speak to you. If we can do these things then the enemy will have a tough time breaking us down.

Don’t get me wrong. The enemy still will come and he will do everything he can to discourage us and test our faith. But this is only strengthening our faith when he does that. You see the devil is not too smart. He hasn’t figured out yet that when he tries our faith and get us a corner, that it actually grows our faith, and it makes it harder for him to come against us the next time. I hope you always remember that lesson.

As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.

We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.

Here we see David talking about seeing the Lord and seeing his house. God will establish it forever. This was the promise to David that his seed would be the seed of the Messiah, and that it would be established forever. This is my hope – that my children will all serve the Lord, and my grandchildren and their children.  The Lord God can establish that.

David talks about the loving-kindness of the Lord in the midst of the temple. Remember, you are the Temple of the Holy Ghost.  Do you have God’s love and kindness dwelling within you? Do you allow it to minister to others as you come across their path? We need to be loving everyone around us and letting them know about God. That’s the reason we’re here on this Earth! Paul says we have the ministry of reconciliation, reconciling people to God (2 Cor 5:11-21). Because, as Christians, we have been reconciled, we need to bring others along with us. Your love and kindness of God reaches out to the Lost

11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.

13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death

David says we should rejoice and be glad because of God’s judgments. God is a righteous judge, judging according to whether they are right by His law and He is impartial. He is not a respecter of persons. If you sin it’s the same as if somebody else does. And a small sin (well there’s no such thing as a small sin) is disobedience,.and disobedience is the root of sin. And we only disobey because we think we can get away with it, and that’s Pride. Pride has no place in a Christian’s life.

Now David says that we should mark our territory basically, and then tell our children about it. What this says to me is that our children should know our testimony. No matter how difficult it is to tell it, they need to know what God has done in our life. How he has saved me, taking me out of the drug culture, help me stop drinking and smoking, and is now delivering me from cancer

My God is an awesome God and he will be my God forever and ever. He will never leave me or forsake me and he will guide me on to the end. I’m so glad I have God as my guide. He’s the one that gives me directions every day. I’m doing my best to follow the path that He leads me on. Are you allowing God to be your guide?

Pure As Gold

Philippians 4:8 Part 4

Finally, brethren,

whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue,

and if there be any praise,

think on these things.

 

Pure means not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material and it can also mean uncontaminated.  We talk about the fact that God will refine us as pure gold (Is 48:10) as we go through the trials and tests of this life.  Here’s the question.  What would be the things that Paul does not want in our minds?

The answer to me is obvious. There are so many unpure things that we can dwell on. I can think of sexual objects, greed, gossip, achievement, power, the list goes on and on and on. To think of things that are pure we need to make sure that our mind is focused where it’s supposed to be

The only pure things that I can think of are the Word of God, the Praises of God, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit themselves. These things need to be the focus of our lives on a minute by minute basis.  We all know that is we sit down and read the newspaper or watch TV, plenty of negative things will bombard us, and steal our focus away.  I am not trying to suggest that we bury our heads in the sand and ignore the world.  We need to be that light and salt that Jesus talked about (Matt 5:13-16).

I find that when I’m focused on the Lord the difficult things in life will take care of themselves as God guides and directs me. When I’m focused on Him, my mind isn’t cluttered by all kinds of bad thoughts, and believe me I have those. I need to do all I can to keep those thoughts out of my mind and the best way to do that is to fill my mind with something else – the Word of God.

The Bible gives us hints on how to accomplish this.  It tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).  Now this doesn’t mean I go around praying all the time, ignoring everyone I meet.  It means having that attitude of prayer so that we can take situations to God in prayer as they ae brought tour attention.  And believe me, those satiations come up much more than you might think if we are looking for them.  It also says “In everything give thanks (1 Thess 5:18).  Have that attitude of gratitude all the time.  And lastly “In all they ways acknowledge Him” (Prov 3:6).  These three simple steps can help each of us keep our minds on things that are pure.

 

Tomorrow, we will discuss how to keep our minds on things that are lovely