Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Trouble with Pride

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today:  Obadiah
First it was Assyria (see Nahum).
Then it was Babylon (see Habakkuk).
Now we've made it to Edom.
While Edom in no way compares to either of the two aforementioned empires, in terms of size or power or splendor, it does share a common problem: pride.
Edom was the land southeast of Israel, the other side of the Dead Sea.
Edomites were the descendants of Jacob's brother, Esau.
And the same enmity we see early on between Jacob and Esau persisted through the centuries between Israel and Edom.
Obadiah is sent by God to speak against Edom and warn them of the doom that they face. The main reason they are in the position they are in is pride.
It is because of pride that Edom is deceived and has a false sense of security. (v. 3-9)
(Even the ancient fortress of Sela (aka Petra- pictured above) is not enough to prevent the end of Edom.)
It is because of pride that Edom boastfully rejoices in the destruction of their kinsmen (v. 10-14)
It is because of pride that Edom is blindly headed for destruction. (v. 15-16)
What is pride?
To start, I certainly don't mean the warm and commendable feelings you have when your child gets a good grade or when your favorite team wins the Superbowl. No, the biblical understanding of pride is a whole different animal.
Our friend CS Lewis, in "Mere Christianity" describes it as this:
"The essential vice,the utmost evil, is Pride...It was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind... Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or common sense."
The scary thing about pride is how much we can be ruled by pride and not even know it. In everything we do, especially in our talents, accomplishments or skills, pride can quickly enter. Even worse is when pride, as it so often does, invades our spiritual life. Remember that was the problem of the Pharisees. Just when we think we are getting somewhere with pride, it rears its ugly head once again, and we fall. (In God's economy, so often strength is really weakness, and weakness is really strength - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
So before we proudly condemn the Edomites, let's first bring this home, concerning ourselves.
It is because of our pride that we are deceived and have a false sense of security.
It is because of our pride that we boastfully rejoice in the downfall of others.
It is because of our pride that we are blindly headed for destruction.
Every day I am given a choice:
Will my words and actions and decisions line up with my own make believe world, or with the reality of God's kingdom? Will I accept God's word as the correct assessment or do I think that I know better? Will I humble myself enough to see and live by the Truth, or do I prefer La La Land, where I make the rules, I create reality, where I am god?
Today the choice is ours- but never forget: the theme song for Hell is Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way."

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