In a previous blog post, we learned that pride means to “puff up.” A proud person will try to appear better or more than who they are. This puffing up may happen knowingly or unknowingly. They may compare themselves with others and take pride in what they have that the world values: status symbols, a high position, a huge social media following and the list goes on and on. They may take pride in what the Church values and become spiritually proud. The person may have an inflated view of themselves and their abilities.
Since pride can come in many shapes and sizes, it may be hard to detect. Sure, a man can wear an obnoxious kind of pride that fills up a room like wearing too much cologne. But, pride can also grow like root vegetables in the dark corners of our hearts, trying to get deeper, tighter hold on our hearts, attitudes and lives. Pride can be tricky. We can even take pride in our humility.
In my life, I’ve gone through every one of these manifestations of pride, just like we all have.
NOT MEASURING UP TO THE WORLD’S STANDARDS?
When I was younger, I felt like I couldn’t measure up to my parents’ expectations or even my own. Like the puffer fish, I didn’t want to feel small and insignificant, easy prey for a hungry predator, so I “puffed” myself up without knowing it. I didn’t have many voices of truth giving me a different perspective, so I took these hard evaluations as the truth of my life and who I was as a person. I don’t want to judge my parents or me unfairly. This is just the way the world is if you aren’t established in God’s truth.
APPARENTLY, GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE WORLD’S STANDARDS
God finally sent a man who was like a spiritual father to me. He looked at me with the eyes of the Father and spoke to me as my Heavenly Father would. He represented God well. We went to the same church and hung out in the same Christian circles. With a twinkle in his eyes and a huge smile on his face, he’d tell me “You don’t know who you are.” He was right. I really didn’t know who I was.
The man was a deep well. I could tell he knew God and that he prayed for me. It was like God and he had a secret between the two of them and that secret was about me. Every week, he’d simply love on me and speak the Father’s heart over me. Over time, God watered the dry ground of my heart and I started becoming more confident in who I was, not in myself, but in God.
At a critical time, God used that man to set me on a better path of knowing God’s heart for me.
DO YOU WANT TO BE SET FREE?
Before knowing God and the Bible better, I really had no choice but to listen to what the world was saying. The world’s measuring sticks were ready and waiting for every area of my life.
- Do I have what it takes?
- Am I smart enough?
- How are my grades?
- Do I have the right friends? Do a lot of people like me?
- Am I pretty enough?
- Do I have the right house, family car, clothes, parents, etc.?
- Am I good Christian?
- Will I get chosen by someone to be a leader in ministry?
- Etc., etc.
Thankfully, I know better now. I no longer want to be measured by the world’s standards! I’ve gotten to the point where I mostly don’t care what the world thinks.
But, every once in a while, I have a pang of insecurity or comparison or jealousy that someone has something I don’t have.
Do you know what that shows me? I haven’t completely died to this evil world system. I still am invested in a corrupt system that is passing away. But, when the last heart string snaps, detaching me from this present world, I’ll no longer value what the world values and measure myself by its standards.
IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. –John 17:14-16
Jesus, praying for his present and future disciples, called us to live in this world, but not of it. We live as citizens of a different world, a heavenly kingdom. In God’s kingdom, people don’t aspire towards something they can take pride in. Instead of seeking to go higher, they go lower. They value humility.
Why do people feel the need to puff themselves up? Mostly, because they still live by the world’s standards and measuring sticks! Beyond our core sin nature, it’s really that simple. If I didn’t value what the world valued, then I wouldn’t try to live up to its expectations. By the way, the Church isn’t immune to caring what the world thinks.
More and more as “cutting edge” leaders run the Church like a business with a slick marketing campaign, it only reinforces living according to the world’s standards.
HOW WE ATTRACT PEOPLE TO OUR CHURCHES WILL DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE WE GET
“We must do what the world does to get the results the world gets.” Can we take a holy pause here and think about the statement I just wrote down? What would God think about that attitude??? Are we on the right path?
We talked last week about how the world doesn’t want to follow something “weak” and “foolish.” Apparently, many in the Church don’t want to either. Are we being influenced by the world’s pride? If we try to attract people the way the world attracts people, then we’ll get a lot of people attracted to the things of the world and not to Christ. If we appeal to people’s pride by presenting something STRONG AND WISE, then proud people will fill our churches who measure things as the world measures them.
DON’T BUY STOCK IN A BUSINESS ABOUT TO GO BANKRUPT
If Jesus’ words weren’t enough to convince everyone, then, maybe, Paul’s words will provide a final nail in the coffin of our proud worldly ambitions.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16 (KJV)
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. –1 John 2:17 (NIV)
Jesus doesn’t want to kill your joy by telling you NOT to love the world, He just wants you to be set free from a corrupt system that will eventually be destroyed. Why, then, as God’s people, would we want to follow the world’s lead, so we can gain its treasures?
Do we not believe what the Bible clearly states on this issue?
PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION
What if you could go back to when the Titanic was being built in a shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. Let’s say the financiers opened the door for anyone to invest in what will be the largest, most luxurious passenger ship in the world. Back then, wealthy people traveled mainly by ship and they always had plenty of money to spend on the very best. Many people would jump at the chance!
The world celebrated the ship’s completion. Constructed with steel beams and plates held together by millions of iron rivets, the Titanic was thought to be invincible, just like the Greek deities the ship was named after. Its name means to have great stature or enormous strength. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Titanic) Moreover, four of its sixteen watertight compartments could be flooded without compromising its buoyancy. One company employee even boasted, “Not even God himself could sink this ship.”
The “Millionaire’s Special” set sail from the port of Southhampton, England on April 10, 1912 on its way to New York City. Edward J. Smith, known as the “Millionaire’s Captain,” took charge of the helm. As it seemed on the surface, things couldn’t be more perfect and everything was running smoothly.
Five days after its maiden voyage, however, the ship hit an iceberg and sunk under the waves.
All its precious cargo was lost: luxury suites, fine china, uncorked champagne bottles, thick bundles of cash and jewelry locked away in safes and a total of over 1500 souls, many of them millionaires. There were only 705 survivors. Later the world found out that due to pride and overconfidence, unnecessary risks were taken, like going too fast in slow zones known to have icebergs and not having enough life boats to safe everyone in case of a disaster.
The collective wealth, power and fame of those onboard, in the time of crisis, meant nothing. After twenty-six months of an army of workers constantly building the Titanic to finish it, it took only two hours and forty minutes to sink the once “unsinkable ship.”
Nothing in our recent history screams the fall of pride as much as the sinking of the Titanic.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. –Proverbs 16:18
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul. –Matthew 16:26
BABYLON (THIS CORRUPT WORLD SYSTEM) WILL ALSO COLLAPSE IN A MOMENT
Likewise, this world system will also fall unexpectedly, taking with it all the hopes, dreams and wealth of its “investors” and those who took pride in it.
The world will mourn the collapse of this city that represents “the spirit of this age” and all that the world values. Think of the great cities of the world: Paris, New York City, London, Tokyo, etc. all rolled into one city. Kings and businessmen and women will mourn the losses of profit and international trade. Consumers will grieve over all the cool stuff they can no longer buy. The “pride of the world” will go down in an hour!
And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. –Revelation 18:2
“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out:
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ —Revelation 18:14-17a
God’s already calling His people to come out of the Babylonian system. If you’re hearing that call, do not harden your heart, but do what God’s asking you to do. Since this corrupt world system will only get worse and worse and time goes on, it’s easier to break from it now, then later.
But, even towards the end, before Babylon’s final destruction, God will seek to rescue His people.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
I will never mourn.’
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. –Revelation 18:4-8
RETURNING TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Things are headed in this direction: back to ancient Babylon and back to the Tower of Babel. If you recall from Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream in Daniel 2, the head of the statue representing the kingdoms of the world was gold. Daniel told the Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, that he was that head of gold. (Daniel 2:37-38)
In the Bible, being “the head” is a sign of authority, as Christ is the Head of His body! It can also mean the source of where something comes from. If we used both meanings, the King of Babylon was both the authority over and the source from which these subsequent kingdoms have their existence.
No wonder the rival world system at the end of the age is called the Harlot Babylon. In an earlier phase of sinful rebellion, mankind tried to build a tower to reach the heavens to make a name for themselves. The Tower of Babel tells the story of man’s pride and independence apart from God. (Genesis 11) God would eventually take their sand castle and crash a huge wave over it, scattering the people and confusing their languages. Now, the world is trying to band together again and become “one,” so they can build that tower again.
Would you invest in the Titanic knowing it would sink?
Would you buy real estate in Babylon knowing it will soon fall?
Would you invest your time, energy, heart, money and passions in a world that will soon pass away?
Are you investing in this present age right now?
- Listening to the world’s voices.
- Caring what the world thinks.
- Doing things the world’s way.
- Going by the world’s standards and measuring sticks.
- Valuing what the world values.
- Wanting the world’s rewards and accolades.
In short, loving the things of the world.
The Apostle Paul was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2) He saw the other side. He had visions that cannot be uttered. (2 Corinthians 12:4) He had direct revelation of Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:3-5; Galatians 1:12) And this is how Paul interacted with the world system:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. –Galatians 6:14
Paul took all of who he was and invested in the world to come. Will you?
THE FATHER’S LOVE
Dying to the things of the world not only sets us free from pride, but also it sets us free from the need to be proud in the first place. The Bible clearly tells us that dying to this world will connect us to the Father’s love.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
–1 John 2:15
When I got connected to the Father’s love, the love of the world began to fade into the distance. I found out there’s a better way, there’s a better citizenship and there’s a better love than the world has to offer. The love of the Father, because it’s unconditional, frees us from having to perform and to be other or more than who we are! Rooted and grounded in this love, we can throw the measuring sticks of the world away!
We can have the world OR the Father’s love, but we can’t have both!
Paul prayed this for the Ephesians and it’s my prayer for you.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. –Ephesians 3:16-19
A POWERFUL TRUTH FROM A SIMPLE STORY
Max Lucado wrote one of my favorite books called You Are Special. It’s a children’s book that communicates the powerful truth of how the Father’s love can help us overcome caring about what the world thinks. Some of the most simple things can be the most effective in reaching a human heart.
Here is a video of that book. It’s so worth watching, for both children and adults.
We will continue to speak about aspects of conquering pride next week in Love is Not Proud, Part 4. I was going to share more about Moses, from last week’s blog post, but decided to share on this subject instead.
REFLECTION AND APPLICATION QUESTIONS
- Study and meditate upon the verses and passages given in the blog post.
- Do you value the things of the world more than you should? You can tell by seeing if you measure yourself by the world’s standards. God wants to see you free. Every area where you feel insecure or where feel you don’t measure up, take to God in prayer. Ask him to help you die to those worldly standards and to embrace more deeply his unconditional love for you.
- How does God want us to interact with the world? Go over the verses/passages in those sections. What did Jesus say? Why? What did Paul say? Why?
- How would it help you to let go of the world, knowing it will soon end in destruction? Decide for yourself whether you want to invest any longer in this world OR invest only in the world to come. In what ways can I begin to detach myself from the things of the world and focus more on my eternal home and reward? What Scriptures can I study deeply and meditate upon to fix them in my mind, heart and spirit?
- Look around at the Church at large in America and/or other countries. Are they employing the world’s wisdom/ways to attract followers? How will that effect the churches as a whole and in the long run? In contrast, how does God grow his body of believers? Think about it and journal on this issue. So many people are buying into the idea that we have to be like the world to get the notice and the numbers.
- Study Daniel 2 and how God describes the various empires of the world. Study Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Study Revelation 18 and the Harlot Babylon. Look up the word “Babylon” in an online concordance and do a study on the subject.
- Watch the video on the book You Are Special. Does it speak to you? If so, in what ways? Continue to work out in your own life how you will spend daily quality (and quantity) time with your Creator and allow Him to speak security and identity into who you are.
- What things can you change in your life right now to begin to detach from the Babylonian system of the world? Pray and ask God for wisdom. Be willing to take some necessary steps.