Tag Archives: humility

… and in the darkness bind them

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Fantastic

G. K. Chesterton once wrote in the book Heretics, “We all believe fairy-tales, and live in them.”1

Think about it: our lives are based on dreams we have of our future, movie theaters bring in billions of dollars every year, and even Jesus spoke with fictional stories. We call those stories parables.

One of the greatest parables of the Twentieth Century was written by a friend of Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, and is titled The Lord of the Rings.

Bound

The main antagonist of the book, though barely ever seen, is Sauron. He considered himself pretty important.

To attempt to control the world, known as Middle Earth, he created rings for each of the species that had power: Elves, Dwarfs, and Men.

He had one more for himself, The One Ring. Inscribed in magical letters on the ring was this:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Sauron used the one tool to control others that he possessed and that he knew the other races possessed: pride.

There was just one thing he never expected: two little creatures with no agenda other than to protect their comfortable lives. He expected great armies to attack him, because he is so great there is nothing less they could do.

He did not expect two little hobbits to walk quietly through the back door, destroying all of his hopes and dreams in one quick second.

His pride trapped him in a way he never expected.

Satan’s Trap

That old Devil, Satan, attempted to take the rightful place of God. It was his pride getting in his way that caused him to be cast out of God’s presence. Eventually he will be cast into the Lake of Fire of eternal destruction.

He realizes it is not enough to attack God, so he created rings to give the (seemingly) most powerful beings on Earth.

Each ring looks different, but they use the same trick as Sauron’s: our pride.

Every time we give in to our pride, we side with Satan. Every time we side with Satan, we guarantee our destruction.

Great God, help us overcome our pride. Teach us true humility, that we may not fall away from Your grace and forgiveness but into Your loving arms.


The Proud and the Widow

Proverbs 15:25 

“The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”

Here we have an example of two opposites: the proud who takes care of everything himself, and the poor, defenseless widow.

What Does God Think?

Well, first of all, God doesn’t think too highly of the proud, nor does He care too much for his mansion on the lake. God hates pride (Prov. 6: 16-17a), and He has holds no respect for what man builds in arrogance. Speaking of a man who built impressive new barns thought to guarantee his retirement, Jesus said, “Thou fool” (Luke 12:20).

“Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted…” – Isaiah 2:11 NLT

On the other hand, God cares about the widow. Actually, He cares a whole lot about widows, orphans, the helpless, and especially those who are taken advantage of. Don’t believe me? Read what He told Moses…

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” – Exodus 22:22-24

What Makes them Opposites?

What we have here in this verse is a comparison between the one who thinks nobody can touch his stuff and the one who does her best to keep what she has. The proud sits all snug in his castle, while the widow goes to sleep wondering if her property line will be the same in the morning.

The proud is the self-sufficient one who has everything in control and doesn’t need God. His house is secure, along with the inheritance he plans to pass on to his proud, snotty children.

The widow is the helpless woman whose land, left to her by her loving husband, is at risk of being stolen. All she has as proof of her property line are the stone markers set in the ground. Now that her husband is gone, she struggles with those who try to move them when she’s not looking.

What Does the Lord Have to Say?

The Lord has a message for both the widow and the proud. To the widow he says, “Don’t worry, dear. I will take the stones that mark your boundaries and “establish” them (natsab, to set firmly in place).  Not even dynamite will budge them.”

To the proud the Lord says, “I will be exalted, not the idol of a house you have built for yourself. You think you have everything figured out, don’t you? Well, guess what? I am going to pluck your house out of the ground (“destroy” is the Hebrew word nacach, meaning “to pluck out”) like you tried to do to that poor widow’s property line.”

Application?

We should never forget that God is always watching, examining our motives, and able to intervene at any time.

The proud are the most vulnerable, while the humble are protected.

 


Righteous or Disgraceful?

Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

America the Beautiful

The United States of America has been a pretty great place.

Many other nations have been defended with her military. Many freedoms have been advanced and celebrated. Many have come to the land of freedom with virtually nothing only to become wealthy and prosperous. More aid and missionaries have been sent out into the world than pretty much any other nation.

Because of all of these great things and more, millions of people try to get into the USA every year. These are amazing things, and others want a part of it!

The Great Satan

The United States of America has also become a nuisance.

Religious zealots around the world (primarily among Muslim extremist groups) have declared the USA “The Great Satan”. With all of our freedoms and accomplishments, they have been used to exploit each other and others. Moral superiority is claimed, yet those freedoms and accomplishments have become a log in the eye and a stumbling block. This “Christian nation” (as most other countries see it) also produces the most pornography and bigotry, exploits other nations for profit, and has some pretty backward laws and judicial decisions that create a culture the requires “Caution: Contents Hot” to be printed on coffee cups!

While greatly loved, the USA is also a bit of a global laughing-stock!

The Christian

Have you ever wondered why it seems the world is once again turning against the Church?

Christians have been called to a higher moral standard and a dedication to serving God by loving this fallen and hurting world. We are to be Christ to the nations.

The Western World has done a rather fantastic job of portraying a bunch of stuck-up, whiny, entitled hate-mongers who only love themselves and take advantage of others.

Fortunately, God always has a remnant of faithful followers (Romans 11).

And the funny thing about this remnant: they rarely have time to feel embarrassed or ashamed of those who make the Bride of Christ look bad. They are too busy loving everyone … including those who make the Bride of Christ look bad!

Choose today how you will live. Will it be as one who is righteous or disgraceful?

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and love. Thank You for saving us from our disgrace. Thank You for Your Word and Your Holy Spirit who guides us in all righteousness. Help us to choose You and walk in Your ways.


My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.


Whose Lips Matter Most?

Proverbs 10:8

The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. 

Open to Instruction

As of this writing, I am about to enter into a new phase of life, a new field of ministry, a place for which I feel a tad bit (maybe more) under-prepared. At the very least, I know that in this new position I will be faced with responsibilities and challenges I’ve yet to encounter; therefore, I have been seeking advice from other pastors who have personal experience.

If there is anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to not think I know everything. If I’m willing to admit I need advice, there’s a good possibility I will be successful in my future endeavors. But advice and counsel are not exactly what is being discussed in the above verse/proverb; we’re talking about “commandments.”

Receiving Commandments

Commandments are not “advice,” but prescriptions for life. They are not given with options; they are our orders – period.

As a matter of fact, they are so important that Solomon (the preacher) tells us in Ecclesiastes that other than fearing God, nothing is more important than keeping his commandments…

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

The difference between being open to advice and receiving commandments can be huge! Being open to the wise instruction of others is not the same as being humble and obedient. It’s not all about us; it’s all about God.

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. – Deuteronomy 13:4

Prating and Falling

When we examine the word “prating” in today’s proverb, what we find is that it means “to open the lips, i.e. to begin to talk”* and carries with it the idea of someone running off at the mouth with as much understanding as the babbling of a brook.

The “wise in heart,” or those whose character is humble enough to know that there’s One who knows all, stands (ironically) in stark contrast to the fool who is so confident in himself that he runs off at the mouth without any regard for the commands of God.

So he falls. Or, rather, is made to fall.

The wise in heart knows he can’t stand in his own strength, but obeys the One who will help him to stand. The prating fool is too busy listening to his own lips that he can’t even hear his Creator, so the fall is not by accident.

LORD, give is a wise heart that listens to and obey Your commands. 


*Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 793.


Not just what, but why?

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Human beings sure are smart! 

Bob and I went over to the church to see if we could help our assistant pastor and some friends who were busting up the concrete getting ready to put in a new parking area by the daycare center.  Kevin, who is also a farmer, had brought in his own Bobcat and was adroitly ripping up the ground and dumping it into the truck.  Bob and I are always so impressed by this guy’s expertise in all things concerning the practical working of dirt.

I’m also pretty amazed at how people invented and manufactured the Bobcat.  Or the concrete it busts up for that matter!  Or how about Apollo 13?  A popular movie from years ago, I just admire at the ingenuity of bringing them back home safely—with slide rules. Continue reading


Am I calling attention to myself?

Humility

Jesus calls on me to be humble. God is God. God is great. I am not. I am a slave. That is all. I must be content in serving, not being served.

The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and absence of self. The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind”.

I see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. I may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance.

Don’t call attention to yourself; let others do that for you.

~King Solomon | Proverbs 27:2

Jesus said that those who are “poor in spirit” would have the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

Being poor in spirit means that only those who admit to an absolute bankruptcy of spiritual worth will inherit eternal life.

Humility is a prerequisite for the disciple of Jesus. I must get it in my heart and soul.


Getting Over Ourselves for the Well Done

Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 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. –Proverbs 25:6‭-‬7, KJV

You probably remember the parable of the Wedding Feast as found in Luke 14. Jesus was basically retelling Proverbs 25 verses six and seven.

What are Solomon and Jesus telling us?

Get over yourself.

We live in a very individualistic society that says it’s okay to demand the best treatment and put yourself forward. After all, you deserve it.

But God says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That means to not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (See Romans 12:3)

Just as Christ, who, though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be attained, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (See Philippians 2:6‭-‬7)

Likewise, we should not demand our own way or seek prestige, power, or popularity. (I could be a Baptist preacher with alliteration like that!)

No, we should instead put others first and then say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (See Luke 17:10)

Then our holy King will draw us close on the last day and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”


The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.