Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 23 October 21:
Jeremiah 44:10 — “They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers….”
Sin is a pride problem. It is always placing yourself higher than God, at least at that moment. For example, holding back forgiveness from someone is proclaiming you deserve more justice than Jesus who gave His life for sinners, and it is rejecting His command to forgive as if you aren’t wholly dependent on His unmerited forgiveness and grace.
You will either live a life of godly fear (humble reverence of God and subsequent trust and obedience), or you will live a life of worldly, destructive fear (anxious uncertainty, worry, insecurity, foreboding, and hopelessness), though you might have a hard time admitting it. You may not have considered that fear is the natural product of pride. Pride demands control and places confidence, faith and hope in self – self-righteousness, self-confidence, self-reliance, which produce self-centeredness and selfishness. Pride is worshipping the idol of self, and self-reliance is and illusion. Fear is a response to the reality of the self-centered person’s real lack of control, an internal acknowledgement of the insufficiency of self. Fear is a powerful motivator for the prideful because it threatens the foundation of the prideful person’s belief system – “If it all depends on me, and I am clearly not good enough, what hope is there?” Many respond to fear by doubling down on pride, reinforcing the lie of self-sufficiency. So, pride becomes the response to fear; it is a form of denial which becomes a vicious cycle of pride producing fear and fear producing more pride. As a result, the prideful person might build a great ‘mansion’ on a foundation of sand – more money, more education, more awards, more ‘friends,’ but the house is merely a house of cards. When you encounter a prideful person, you can be certain that you are dealing with a fearful person, though they will make every effort to project and proclaim confidence.
Pride also isolates and robs people of the true joy of relationships, with God and with others. Relationships demand exposure and vulnerability, and the prideful can’t risk either. The prideful person naturally hides, protects, and remains in the superficial. Relationships demand humility; love demands humility. The prideful person, who places their trust in self and their value and security in their accomplishments and various worldly treasures, will ultimately view God and others as either assets or liabilities, allies or enemies, opportunities or threats to themselves and their kingdom. Their concept of ‘love’ becomes more like a contract than a covenant – “I love you if (as much as I perceive) you love me,” rather than “I love you because I love you no matter what.” Their ‘love’ becomes performance based, measured in services rendered and payments made, rather than godly love which is an unmerited, costly gift bestowed upon others. The prideful person cannot love the way God commands and the way he exemplified on the Cross. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Pride, faith in self, always proves false, but humble faith in God never proves false. Those who place their faith in Christ rather than self have nothing to fear and are free to live in peace and free to love –
- Matthew 23:12 — Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
- 1 Corinthians 3:11 — For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
- Matthew 7:24-27 — Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
- Isaiah 41:13 — For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
- Mark 5:36 — “Do not fear, only believe.”
- Psalm 125:1 – “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 October 21: Today rest humbly in the sufficiency and assurance of Christ, letting go of the idol of self, and love in the confidence of God’s love and His grace.