INTRODUCTION

I hope everyone from the beginning realizes something…  I’m not an expert in any of these areas.  As a reminder, I “felt led” to study this subject of love, because I needed to learn more about loving people for myself.    God knows I need help in this area.  So, whatever I’ve shared with others in the way of these blog posts, God has applied to my life also.

GOD TEACHES ME A LESSON

For example, recently I shared about how God reveals and glorifies Himself through nature.  Consequently, the enemy wants us staring at our screens rather than experiencing God’s creation.

A tragic, but good thing happened to me recently as an object object lesson.

I shattered my cell phone screen, while walking a couple of dogs (my little side job).  Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!  It wasn’t just one clean break, but breaks throughout the screen.  Not so much that I couldn’t use the phone, but not so little, it didn’t seriously compromise my once clear viewing capacity.  I was ticked!  I stewed!

A little later, I heard God say, “But you said we shouldn’t have as much screen time.”  “Yeah, but…”  I could’ve said a number of things.  I need my phone.  I type on my phone.  What about instructional YouTube videos???

God went on to say, “If you can learn the lesson from this, it’ll be a good thing in your life.”

I knew God didn’t want me to get another phone at this point.  He didn’t want me to fix the screen.  He wanted my shattered screen to keep me from spending too much time looking at my phone.  Too much time is relative.  I felt like I already didn’t look at my phone that much anyways and now he doesn’t want me to play my chess app.  What gives?!

God, was right.  After a little while, I did less and less on my phone.  I looked at my phone less and less.  It was freeing me.The judgment of God against pride (and sin) at the end of the age may seem severe, but it’s necessary.

I share this incident, because we’re all learning.  And, if God intervenes in your life with these object lessons, where you actually have to practice the word you study or meditate upon, thank Him… thank Him profusely.  He’s making the word come to life for you.  God taught me again this week.

DEFLATED

Another thing happened on the way to my blog post.

Normally, I already have a gist of what I’m going to write when it comes time to write it all down.   Since it’s a process, I think about it throughout the week, while I pray for God’s will, words and guidance.  As thoughts, insights, connections and directions come to me, I jot them down.   But, this week, I struggled with knowing what to write on this subject.  Nothing much was coming to me.  I mean, what do I know about pride??  (Just joking, everyone.)

Then, I thought this may be another object lesson.  I don’t really have anything, unless He gives it to me.

DEFINITION OF PRIDE

The Greek word “proud” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 has a very simple meaning.  It means to swell, to puff up, or to inflate.   In other words,  in my pride, I will try to appear larger, better, and more magnificent than I am.  Infected with pride, I may have an inflated opinion about myself.  (Blue Letter Bible app)

Maybe God deflated my balloon this week to remind me once again that whatever good comes through me has come first from Him.  We, as human beings, need inspiration to create!

Writers, artists, creators of any kind throughout history have depended on what they’d call their muses.  In Greek and Roman mythology, muses were the daughters of Zeus, goddesses who preside over the arts and sciences.  They were often the source of inspiration for a creative artist.  (bing. com)   Many people throughout history have done strange things to call upon and connect with inspiration.

Fortunately, we don’t have to engage in crazy rituals, because we, as Christians, have the Holy Spirit, who is a continual source of inspiration from God.  All we really have to do is connect with God and the inspiration will flow!  He is the true Artist, Writer and Creator!

Without the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, I have nothing to offer.

ADAM AND EVE TRIED TO COVER THEMSELVES

Why do we feel the need to puff ourselves up?  Let’s look back to the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.  Have you ever wondered why Adam and Eve didn’t know they were naked before the Fall?   They were superintelligent, super-aware and super-perceptive.  Why weren’t they reaching for a fig leaf back then?

Before they fell, they may have been covered with God’s glory.  Maybe, it came in the form of light surrounding their bodies.  I imagine the light was so thick and bright that they really couldn’t see what they were like underneath it all.  Later on, it does say, their eyes were opened to see their nakedness, but nonetheless.

They had the glory of God: God’s inspired thoughts flowing through their minds, hundreds of creative projects waiting to burst forth, a garden to design, joy unspeakable and a peace that was tangible at every moment of the day.  Then, that protective bubble of glory burst and all of what they had experienced and were living in…vanished.

In an attempt to cover the sad fact of their lost glory, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves.

TRYING TO GET BACK WHAT WE LOST

Humanity was just plain MORE from the beginning, and, then, we lost it.  And, we’ve been trying to get it back ever since.  We’re not what we used to be prior to the Fall and, more importantly, we’re NOT what God originally created us to be and meant for us to be!

Consequently, as fallen human beings, we tend to use the good things in our lives (badges of honor, gifts, talents, wealth, etc., etc.) as these fig leaves.   Our coverings can puff us up and magnify our significance and importance in the eyes of others and even in our own eyes.  These fig leaves can come in many forms.

Consider, for example, a businessman buys an expensive watch to be on par with the “successful businessmen” around him.  That’s just one example of a fig leaf one wears to cover over deficiencies and to appear larger:  a watch as a status simple.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE:  WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO EXPOSE MY WEAKNESSES, I MAY SWELL UP WITH PRIDE

Animals employ “defense mechanisms” to protect themselves from predators.  For instance, the pufferfish can expand many times its normal size to keep other animals from eating it.  It gulps in enough water and air into its body to inflate or “puff up.”

Have you ever tried biting into a balloon as a child?  Eating a pufferfish is kind of like that.  The attacking animal can’t quite get its mouth around it.   It can’t quite get a handle on the situation or the pufferfish.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION WITH A PUFFERFISH?  I DON’T THINK SO.

Isn’t it similar in our various relationships when dealing with conflict or trying to point out something that needs to be worked on in a relationship?  Regardless of our actual intentions, when we try to point out something to another person, that person’s pride can get in the way of hearing us out.  Both the person and the situation can swell up many times their normal size and we have a hard time getting a handle on the situation, let alone an accurate reading.   Of course, it works in the reverse also, when people try to point things out to us.

Oh, I’ve experienced my pride getting the best of me.  I have flailed, defended myself, puffed up my merits, shadowboxed as a debater, etc.  To me, it didn’t seem like pride.  It just seemed like a misunderstanding or misperception.  Since they weren’t seeing me or the situation in the “right way,” I had every right to defend myself.

Hopefully, I’m a better listener now, humbly taking what’s said to God in prayer.

Since, the overall context of all of these blog posts is LOVE, we need to consider how these things work out in relationships and the way we relate to other people.

PRIDE CAN DESTROY RELATIONSHIPS

Note to self:  Try not to come across as attacking the person.  It’s highly unlikely a pufferfish will stay deflated long enough in order for you to teach it the error of its ways.   In other words, if we put the other person in a place where they feel deflated, they’ll seek to inflate or puff up themselves to compensate.  There’s no biting into or talking to a pufferfish.   It’ll simply float away on its pride bubble, eluding your desire to capture its attention.

Our pride can block some great relationships from forming and developing.  It can block us from seeing what we need to see about ourselves, as others act as mirrors in our lives and reflect back what they see.  It can block breakthroughs of growth in those same areas of sin and weakness.  In short, pride can get in the way of loving people and being loved by them as God intended in the relationships He ordains for our lives.

Here a pufferfish keeps a predator from eating him:

RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:  I CAN RECOGNIZE I DESPERATELY NEED GOD OR TRY TO BE MY OWN GOD

In the film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends take a journey to the great Wizard of Oz, where each one seeks to have a wish granted:  Dorothy wants to go home, the tin man wants a heart, the scarecrow wants a brain and the lion wants courage.  The wizard has been so hyped up he has a godlike complex.  He’s made himself out to be someone who can grant these wishes.  If he doesn’t come through for them, he’ll be exposed for who he really is, so he compensates by puffing himself up.  His magnified voice booms throughout the room as fire, smoke and loud noises emphasize his every word!

The foursome shake and quiver in the presence of the great Wizard of Oz, fooled by his great and awesome show.  The pufferfish has exploded to enormous proportions.  There’s one, however, who is not fooled.  Dorothy’s dog, Toto, sniffs out a con job and pulls back the curtain to expose a flustered man frantically turning wheels and pulling levers to animate the false god.

The Wizard of Oz exposed as the man behind the curtain:

LET GOD BURST YOUR BUBBLE

Oh, the things we do to impress and deceive God, others and even ourselves.  God, like Toto, is forever trying to pull away our curtains and expose the person hiding behind them.  Not because he’s malicious or cruel, but because He loves us!  He knows we must see ourselves for who we arewe, our true condition before God, to come to Him in humility and true need.   Otherwise, we continue to make a go of of our life contortions OR sixty-plus hour work weeks OR rage for perfection, etc., pushing buttons and pulling levers for our audiences, imaginary or real.

POINTED QUESTIONS TO POKE PRIDE

Ask yourself these questions:  Do I feel the need to impress anyone?  Do I feel the need to prove myself?  Am I okay in accepting the fact that without God I have nothing and am nothing?  If God were to strip away his grace, peace, glory, inspiration from my life, and I was left just with my “nakedness,” would I be able to accept that bare stick as the reality of who I am apart from God?

You know, sometimes, God has to burst our bubble to get our attention!  He has to deflate our pufferfish!  Remember Nebuchadnezzar, who declared he had created his kingdom for himself.   Due to his pride and arrogance, God had to turn Nebuchadnezzar into an animal to show him the true reality of his condition.  [Read the account in Daniel 4]

WHEN A SEEMINGLY BAD THING IS REALLY A GOOD THING

Examples:  We can lose our business.  We had a great week of sales, people complimenting us, etc., etc., but this week is dismal and even checkered with criticism.  Our numbers decrease.  Yesterday, I was inspired, but today there’s nothing, just a brass ceiling and an iron sky.    Maybe, you’re trying to accomplish something in your own wisdom and strength and God just won’t let it happen, because He doesn’t want it to work out that way, with you in the lead.

We must always remember… God is not malicious!  He only wants us to get out from behind our curtains, if we’re hiding in those places, and come back to our dependence upon Him.  In other words, he wants us to come back to REALITY!  Only God can really see when we’re playing the part of the man or woman “behind the curtain.”

GOD HATES PRIDE, BECAUSE IT KEEPS YOU FROM HIM

We wonder why God is so strong against pride!  The Bible is clear when it says that God hates pride and arrogance!  He loves us enough to break our delusions and burst our bubbles.  God will not enable us to continue in our path of destruction, away from Him, nor will he support our dependence upon self!

Below are a few Bible verses about how God feels about pride.

The Lord detests all the proud of heart.  Be sure of this:  They will not go unpunished.  –Proverbs 16:5

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  –Proverbs 16:18

But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  –James 4:6

IN THE END TIMES, THERE WILL BE A GREAT SWELLING TIDE OF HUMAN PRIDE

In the Bible, sometimes, God compares mankind to the restless sea.

But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  –Isaiah 57:20

As discussed before, pride started with satan’s rebellion against God in Heaven.  Then, the devil caused the fall of mankind by tempting Adam and Eve towards this same pride, telling them they can be like God.

Those first seeds of pride have grown in the shadow of fallen mankind and are now coming into their full maturity.   For this reason, the Bible tells us that pride will swell ever out of control as we get closer to the end.

A GLOBAL SOCIETY THAT ONLY PROMOTES PRIDE

After all, our culture cultivates the love of money, the self-appointed expert mentality, the hope of instant celebrity status, selfishness and ME-ism on a global scale that eclipses anything we’ve seen previously in history.   Gone may be the days of Marie Antoinette and her luxury palaces, silk dresses and steady diet of bon-bons or Imelda Marcos and her collection of more than a thousand pairs of luxury shoes.   We may not have their wealth, but we have a growing pride and narcissism that fuels attention to self and magnifies self.   Not just for a few individuals here and there, the so-called one percenters, but for a collective society.

As a result, God will have to do a lot of balloon popping on a global scale before it’s all said and done.

Pride characterizes society in the End Times.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, PROUD… –2 Timothy 3:2 (Caps mine.)

Therefore, God will have to deal with pride in a thorough way throughout the Earth.

The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low;  the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.  –Isaiah 2:11

The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled),… –Isaiah 2:12

The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.  –Isaiah 2:17

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins.  I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.  –Isaiah 13:11

I don’t share these things as a downer, but to show everyone, myself included, how serious a sin pride will become.  Society will tell you it’s no big deal to be proud.  In their perception, if you have something to be proud about, then BE LOUD AND PROUD!

God, on the other hand, tells us to humble ourselves before Him and others!  (1 Peter 5:6; Proverbs 6:3; Matthew 20:26-27; etc.)  Stay low, stay humble, stay needy and stay dependent upon God!

TWO THINGS I LEARNED FROM THESE END TIME VERSES ON PRIDE

  1. To be prepared for the End Times, I must deal with the pride in my own heart first!

Global culture and society now and into the future will only help me towards becoming more proud and arrogant, not less.

It’s like standing in the shallow part of the ocean.  Without my feet anchored, I will drift with the tide.  Even with my feet anchored, I still can feel the pull of the tide wanting to drag me in a certain direction.  That’s what I think it’ll feel like as we get closer to the end.

I have to find ways to be countercultural!  I have to learn to die to my pride now!  With intentionality, I will walk in Kingdom Culture instead.

To keep myself from drifting and “going the way of the world,” I must pay heed to what the Bible is trying to teach me and the unavoidable future it paints.   I can’t just look at these verses and passages and sigh, “Oh, isn’t that awful.”  I must take the word seriously and apply it!

I can work to be set free from pride!  My freedom, in turn, can help others to be set free also!   Since we’re in this together, we need to help each other be prepared for what’s to come.   Sure, it’s easier said than done.  The pufferfish dies hard!

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and THEN YOU WILL SEE CLEARLY to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  –Matthew 7:5  (Caps mine.)

Ouch, Jesus, that hurts my pride!  Whoooooshhh… the air is escaping from my pufferfish.   (By the way, that verse seriously does hurt my pride in my own righteousness.)

  1. The judgment of God against pride (and sin) at the end of the age may seem severe, but it’s necessary.

Trust me, we want God to harshly judge pride, arrogance and sin.  Those attitudes of the heart, let alone sinful deeds, block people from their salvation and redemption!  They keep people from seeing the reality of their incredible need for God!   Ultimately, they keep people from coming to God as their only hope!

Needless to say, learning to help people see and then deal with their issues of pride without arousing their defensiveness will be a useful skill in the days to come.

Consider, only sinners need a Savior.  Only the sick need a Physician.   Only the hungry and empty need something to fill them.

Remember this:  Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.  –James 5:20

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  –Proverbs 9:10

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.  –Proverbs 16:32

CONCLUSION

Next week, we’ll continue Love is not Proud, Part 2. Pride is such a huge issue!  It’s ingrained within our fallen nature and it’ll be a prominent characteristic of society and the antichrist kingdom at the end of the age.

I feel like we’ve already unpacked pride a great deal in previous posts, such as the ones having to do with boasting.

Of course, I refer only to sinful pride.

We also use the word “pride” in referring to potentially positive things, such as “I take pride in a job well done,” or “I’m proud of my cultural heritage.”  Depending on the spirit behind the words, however, these statements can go either way.

Ultimately, I’m not the “pride inspector,” only God knows what we’re saying and doing and for what reasons.  God calls us to examine ourselves. Anything beyond that, God will guide us on how to address those issues. The important thing is to take the issue of “pride as sin” seriously and to begin to wage war against it in our lives.

We wage this war for many reasons: for the sake of God, ourselves, our relationships with others, our future and, as always, love.

 

 

—Joyce Lee

REFLECTION AND APPLICATION QUESTIONS

  1. Reflect on why “proud” has the meaning of puff up, swell, inflate.   Actually, the root word of the Hebrew word for “pride” in the Old Testament is SWELL.  Same concept.   Look up these words in a regular dictionary for further information and jot down some notes.  Journal your thoughts.
  2. Are there things in your life you may be using as fig leaf coverings?  Take some time to pray to God about this issue and listen for what He may say to you.  If He shows you something, repent of it and meditate on how Jesus is now your covering.  The more we know Jesus covers us in every area of our lives, the less we’ll turn to other things to be our source of pride in ourselves.
  3. Do a word study on words such as pride, arrogance, proud, arrogant, lofty, etc.   Look up these words in a Bible concordance and study each of the occurrences.  If the occurrence has to do with a person’s actions or story, answer the reporter questions:  who, what, when, how and why to unpack the context of the passage.   Pray God will reveal the ugliness of pride to you and show you how serious it is in keeping people from turning to Him, both believers and unbelievers.
  4. Look around the world today.  What are the signs of an ever increasing pride problem in our culture and society?  Write down some examples.  What does the world think about pride?  For them, is it a good thing or a bad thing?   Why or why not?
  5. We may not think of the things we own or do as status symbols that make us appear bigger or better than we are.  Reflect and pray.  Can you identify any status symbols in your life?  If so, why do you feel the need to have them?  Examine more carefully one, two or more status symbols.  What’s the message of that status symbol?  How does it make you appear bigger, better, more noble, etc.?  (This may sound similar to the questions and statements in #2, but I see status symbols as different enough to put in another category.)
  6. Meditate on those verses that talk about how God will address pride and arrogance at the end of the age.  Why does He need to be so severe?  What would happen if He just let it go and allowed people to bask in their pride?   What does God hope to gain from His judgments against pride and arrogance?   What is His ultimate desire for the people of the world?  How is pride in mankind a delusion from the reality of God and our true state before Him?
  7. Can you identify with either the pufferfish or the great Wizard of Oz and what was written about them in those sections?  If so, what are some steps you can take to change some of those knee-jerk reactions and/or soulish ambitions?  How can you dismantle the false beliefs and false coverings that have led you to either react or act out in these ways?
  8. Given the definition of “proud” as “puffed up,”  how does pride stand in the way of truly loving somebody, having someone truly love you and healthy relationships?

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