Category Archives: pride/humility

Looking Inside the Pot

Proverbs 26:23 

Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. (NLT)

This is the first of several proverbs dealing with the subject of hypocrisy. Loosely defined this is saying one thing and doing another. Jesus warned about hypocrisy when he spoke about the teachers of the law and the Pharisees in Matthew 23 verses 1-7:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

The Pharisees liked to dress up in fancy clothes and have the place of honor wherever they went. They constantly sought respect from the people of Israel, yet had a reputation for not practicing what they preached. The dressing up bit is mentioned in this proverb where it refers to covering an ordinary clay pot with silver. It isn’t what the pot looks like on the outside that matters – it is what it looks like on the inside.

The Apostle Paul taught that we should examine ourselves, especially before participating in communion (1 Corinthians 11:28-31). Communion in my church is scheduled twice monthly. What about the rest of the time? The fact is that we should be constantly checking up on ourselves. Portraying Jesus Christ is not an easy task. But we owe it to Jesus to do our best at following His example.

It is possible that Jesus appeared drab when standing close to the Pharisees, but only if you looked at what they were all wearing. When I read Scripture and look into Jesus I see the most beautiful person who ever lived. The problem is that He calls me to live like Him. If I claim to follow Jesus then I have to try and make that evident through the way that I live, not through what I am wearing, what I earn, what I drive, my position in church or any other thing. Jesus has to be visible in how I act, through the words that I speak, and in the thoughts behind the words that might not betray me to people, but are completely visible to God. I hate the thought of being a hypocrite. It is up to me to something about it.


Cancer of Conceit

Proverbs 26:12

“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”

Snobs

One of the problems with the modern atheist movement is attitude. Arrogance, snobbery, and conceit may have been present all along, but having a condescending attitude is now the new trademark of Darwinists, or should I say, “Dawkins-ists”? They love to belittle creationists; berating them, making fun of them, even to the point of tears. Richard Dawkins even said of Christians: “Mock them…ridicule them in public…with contempt.”

There are always those who believe they know everything (like teenagers). They will look down their noses at others with different opinions, never giving any credence to their proposals. Solomon would say there is little hope for a person like that.

But are atheists the only ones with attitude problems? What about the Calvinist who believes any disbelief in his theory is due to a lack of education and willful ignorance? What about the denomination that insists to be a member of any other is a sin? What about the man who takes what a woman says with a grain of salt?

Arrogance is a cancer covered by many different skins.

Dangerous Doctoring

Most of us have no idea where cancer comes from; it can appear without any warning. The healthiest people can get lung cancer, even when they don’t smoke. Skin cancer can appear overnight, even on a person who never gets a sunburn. But the key to survival is early detection, not denial.

Some people experience the symptoms of disease, but refuse to go to the hospital. The worst offenders are people with some medical education, because for some reason they think they know as much as the doctors do. They refuse to seek medical attention and say, “I can handle this myself.”

Some people believe that aliens gave them cancer, but at least they have enough humility to seek help. Of the humble crazy person and the proud medical student, which has more hope of survival?

Humility

Have you ever met people who know just enough to be dangerous? Their self-confidence becomes a substitute for true wisdom, thereby making them “wise in their own conceit.” But at least a fool, if he admits he doesn’t know everything, can find help before his world falls apart.

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” – Isaiah 57:15

Lord, help us to recognize our faults and weaknesses. Help us to “seek you first,” rather than relying on our own wisdom, for You are our only Hope.


Padded Résumés

Proverbs 25:14

“Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.”

Résumés

There are a few things I hate to do in life, such as flossing (but I do it, anyway), hanging blinds, changing diapers, and moving. I also hate writing résumés – about as much as I despise licking a cheese grater.

Résumés (also spelled resumes, but looks like it would sound like re-zooms) are so difficult because of the desire to boast. For those of us who have less to boast about, filling out a résumé can be even more challenging. There is always the temptation to “pad” the résumé with skills not quite developed, like saying you’re a “lion tamer” when all you’ve tamed is your pet cat.

Expectations

The problem with a padded résumé is that while it may get you in the door, it won’t guarantee you can do the job for which you are hired. When employers hire people based on the skills they are supposed to have, the expectation is that the employees use their skills, or “gifts,” when called upon.

Sadly, many people have been let go from high-paying, high-pressure jobs when their “boasting…of a false gift” became evident. Examples include Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, RadioShack CEO Dave Edmondson, and Notre Dame football coach George O’Leary.

No Water

Even more tragic than being found out is the negative effect lying about one’s abilities can have on others. When Solomon compares boasting about a false gift to clouds without rain, we might imagine thirsty people, or hungry people looking at withering crops. How cruel it would be to promise them water but never deliver!

Don’t be a cloud without water. Don’t boast about gifts and abilities you don’t have. Be the best you can be and live up to the expectations others rightfully have of you.


In the Presence of the King

Proverbs 25:1-7

1 These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.
3 The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
5 Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
6 Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz. King Ahaz did not cover himself in glory. (The story of Ahaz is told in 2 Kings 16:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 28:16-25.) Because Ahaz was a foolish man the people he ruled suffered as foreign armies invaded the land of Judah. A key verse is 2 Chronicles 28:19 (NLT):

The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord.

King Hezekiah did not follow his father’s example. He did not get everything right, but as a young man of twenty-five he quickly set about putting right the wrongs of his father. Idols were removed and destroyed, and the Temple that had been boarded up by Ahaz was reopened for worship. It seems that Hezekiah took note of the wisdom of Solomon to the extent that he had the Proverbs of Solomon reproduced as part of his commitment to following God (Proverbs 25:1). Scripture records that:

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. (2 Kings 18:5-7 NLT)

As a King, Hezekiah was well placed to understand the importance of not indulging in an attitude of over-importance. Jesus drew on verses six and seven when he was at a feast and observed people fighting for the best place at the head of the table (Luke 14:7-14). Jesus suggested that the best place to be is the foot of the table. But that was before He died. Today the best place to be is at the foot of the cross. If we dare to look up we will see that the cross is empty. The King of kings is no longer nailed to that cross, but reaching out to take our hand. It is only when we humble ourselves before Him that He reaches down to us in this way. As it says in verse 7 above:

For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. 


Victim Lawyers

Proverbs 24:28-29

28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Perhaps you remember my last entry from a few days ago, Pray for Your Enemies and the few since then. There is a common theme that is continued here, a theme dealing with envy and revenge and, ultimately, pride.

Perhaps you have heard of those so-called “victim lawyers” who look for ways to sue people and/or businesses for supposed infractions on freedoms or services received. Even though there is rarely solid cause for these lawsuits, there are enough times when the “victims” win their cases. This causes fear and confusion for many, causing pushed up prices, changes to things (often for the worse), or closing good businesses.

Some of these lawyers do it for fun, while others do it because they have been wronged before and wish to help others no matter the social cost.

The Great Accuser

There is one who does this against each and every person, but with much greater consequences and cost to the individuals.

Sadly, much of his accusations are true.

Thankfully, we have a better lawyer … if we are Christians. The Devil, the one full of pride and envy of the love we give God, accuses us of our sins straight to God, yet he does not have the ultimate victory over us who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior from our sins.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
Revelation 12:10-12, NIV

Our Father, help us to live like the father of lies. Remove all envy and malice, hatred and pride from our hearts. Create in us hearts that do not want to bring shame to our neighbor and lead to our destruction, but hearts that are full of love and may help lead others to everlasting life, in Jesus name.


Oppressing the Poor

Proverbs 22: 22-23 

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
 and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. (NIV)

Once again the writer challenges our attitudes to the poor. How we treat those who are poorer than us, or even weaker than us is important. Most of us would probably read this proverb and think that it doesn’t apply to us personally because we haven’t robbed or oppressed anybody. Perhaps we haven’t, but are we sure? What about times we have failed to stand up for someone? Take it right back to the school playground where it was easier to walk away than stand up for a fellow pupil facing ridicule or even physical violence. I can remember thinking ‘rather him than me’ on more than one occasion.

Then there is the work place. When I joined the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year-old cadet it was made perfectly clear to me that I was at the bottom of the pecking order. The chief officer on my first ship used to shout at me regularly, perhaps because he had been treated the same way when he was starting his career. I remember the captain sticking up for me one day and the treatment I received improved a little after that. A few years later when I was an officer I found myself speaking up for a young Rastafarian able seaman who was assigned to my watch. In this case the bosun and another seaman were making this young man’s life a misery, with the knowledge of the chief officer! He had nobody to plead his case until I stepped in. I did not make myself popular in the process, but I could not ignore what was going on.

Oppression takes many forms. Read through these verses again – there is a significant warning in verse 22. Is God challenging you about your attitude to others, or is He calling you to take a stand in someone’s defense today?


Full Rewards

Note: A special extra post today to cover a precious missed verse in our lineup.
~Daniel

Proverbs 22:4

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (KJV)
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. (ESV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was killed by the Nazis, based his ministry and teachings off of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.

Why mention a man who was killed over 70 years earlier and his favorite teaching?

The most obvious understanding of today’s verse is that with humility and the fear of the Lord, you can become wealthy, be respected, and live well.

Pastor Bonhoeffer came from a wealthy, respected family, and he became a pastor, theologian, and college and seminary professor, willing to work with anyone from any walk of life. That sounds great, but we must remember that he spent the last two years of his life in prison and was hanged by the Third Reich.

The ultimate teaching he lived out and taught includes humility (5:1-12) and seeking God’s righteousness (6:19-33).

In fact, here are three passages to fully understand the rewards of Proverbs 22:4:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

Let it be summarized:

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Romans 14:18

We must seek the riches and honor of God, the Author and Giver of Life, above the riches and honor of this world. He will bless us more than we can ever understand. The greatest blessing is the reward of eternal life through Christ.

Great God, give us all that we need, and help us to seek your righteousness  approval above all else.