This past Sunday our pastor spoke on a subject that affects us all. In fact, he said something like “if you don’t think you struggle with this, it means you probably do.” He went on to share some very convicting and challenging points regarding this issue. So this week’s wisdom comes from Pastor Wayne Burggraff and the subject? Pride. The sin that no one escapes at one time or other.
His sermon was based on the life of Joseph and he first gave multiple reasons why Joseph could have been proud. Think about it. He was shown special favoritism by his parents (with a multi-colored coat to prove it), he was made head of his master’s household in short order, he was good-looking and desired by the master’s wife, he could interpret dreams and visions, and he ended up being second in command, second only to Pharaoh, in the great civilization of Egypt. And yet, Joseph gave the glory to God and concentrated on serving Him (Genesis 39:4, 40:8, 41:16).
So how did Joseph manage to do this? How did he not get all caught up in how wonderful or powerful he was? Pastor Wayne gave six ways to keep this sin far from our lives. I would like to share them with you here, followed by a few comments of my own in italics regarding each point.
1. Lean on the Lord (and not on yourself!) if we lean on the Lord, we never have to think how amazingly resourceful we are, because we know the truth: God can strike us dead at any moment. He can move men’s hearts. He is Sovereign and He is the one in control. We aren’t all that amazingly resourceful, after all.
2. Lift up the Lord (and not yourself!) Pastor put it this way: Deflect any credit to God. I had never quite thought about that before. But any good thing we can do, anything in our lives of which we are proud, is only because of His gifts and by His grace. He should be praised!
3. Lift up others (not just yourself) Pastor made the observation that selfish people feel threatened by other people’s successes. You know, that’s true. If we are prideful and selfish, we don’t want good things to happen to other people. But someone who is genuinely concerned about others will be happy for their successes and sad at their losses — not the other way around.
4. Labor hard at your job (instead of becoming slothful or lazy) There isn’t much time for pride and “self-esteem” conversations if you are laboring hard at your work and focusing on what you should be doing.
5. Let go of your past and its’ hurts (and its’ successes, too) The past is past. Yes, it has shaped us, it has molded us into who we are, but hanging on to it, whether looking back at the glory days or looking back at the hurtful days, is not beneficial to anyone, and least of all, to us.
6. Live a holy life. Never assume that you can live as you like just because of your successes or position in life. Many of us do this. We think because we are such and such in the company or church, or because we are the star of the team or we are popular, that we deserve special treatment. But, no matter where we find ourselves, we need to be willing to serve others willingly and whole-heartedly. No matter what position we have or how big our house, if we are focused on holiness, it helps us to remember that we are a sinner, saved by grace alone. Living a holy life keeps pride far from us.
I don’t know about you, but I found this message challenging. I wasn’t aware of just how much pride creeps -oh, so subtly- into my own life. As I listened, I spotted troubling areas that I need to confess and change. I wish I could play the whole message for you, but I guess the six points will have to do. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down all of the Bible verses that went with the points. Most came from the story of Joseph in Genesis. If you are looking for something new for your devotions, his life is certainly worth reading again. He is an amazing example of a godly man. At any rate, I hope that some of you are challenged, just as I was, even though Pastor Wayne’s presentation was so much more thorough and better than mine!