Today we continue this series looking at one of the biggest, and sneakiest forms of spiritual kryptonite out there.  I know right? Another big one!  We will also look at the counter to it, which is also pretty interesting because it is often misunderstood.  This is a big one because today we are talking about pride and humility and I want you to know right on the front end.  Pride is difficult to deal with, because…if you deal with pride in your life the odds are that can’t see it in your own life.  Because in your mind you are good to go!  I don’t think we can see it, not without help, so this is where we are going today, we will look at pride and humility and try to get an accurate portrayal of what they are, and then we will try to reveal it today, because as I often say, seeing this stuff is a big part of the battle!  If we don’t know it’s there we simply won’t or can’t do anything about it!  This means that we are going to need to dial in because we have some work to do for sure!  I want to not only look at pride and humility for what they are, but I also want to show you in the end how to break free from this stuff…which is the fun part.

So I want to start by looking at pride, and I want to start with this thought…pride is a subtle and sneaky killer in our lives…it is so sneaky that we don’t see it or know that it’s there but it kills the most central and important areas of our lives.  Scripture warns of pride, a lot actually.  I don’t think it’s ironic that Solomon the wisest person who ever lived not named Jesus brings up warnings of pride, and the rewards of humility all throughout his wise teachings in Proverbs.  Here’s just one example…

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. 19 It is better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud. NLT

So pride is out ahead, leading us towards a great crash, and I called it the sneaky or silent killer because we never really see it coming.  I want to show you just an area or two, that are really life lines for us people where pride and can creep in and take us out.  Let’s start here…

Pride can kill our relationships with people.  Have you ever had a friend or loved one who just won’t or can’t listen?  Who simply talks about themselves all the time?  Who seems to be able to show you everything you need to work on in your life, but doesn’t seem to recognize any short comings of their own?  How much fun is that to deal with?  Well this is what pride does.  It makes me feel superior or above, it blocks communication, it hurts people…and eventually it can isolate you and you may never know why other than to say, “I don’t know what happened to so and so, oh well, I’m rolling on!  Their loss!”  Well pride really beats people up, and can leave real hurts and wreckage all around it, and eventually it can isolate you…which is not a good thing.  You as a person were created to be with others, in community…and you are better when you are with people in community.  We human beings, we are built for relationship and pride can really tear them away.  We are better together than we would ever be apart.  Remember throughout this series we have been talking about the spiritual war, the fact that you do have an enemy, and that enemy wants to take you down…well when you are isolated and alone you are much more open to those attacks.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. NIV

Pride isolates you from people over time, and you never really see it coming, and alone is just where your enemy wants you.

Pride kills your relationship with God.  Not only does pride kill your relationships with people by hurting, and judging, and just isolating you from community with others.  Pride as hard as it is to see is really at the center of all sin.  I want you to think about this for a moment.  What is at the very center of sin?  It’s self-interest. It’s me being and staying focused on me, rather than allowing God to be central in my life.  This is what pride does in our lives…it’s me elevating me, rather than me elevating God in my life.  If I’m full of pride I am not really worshiping or center on God and His desires, but me and mine.  Pride is literally central to what the enemy is up to, and its pride that will cut you off from God…because in your mind you have it…so what would you need God for?  This obviously is a very dangerous place to be.  Do you see what pride can do?  It isolates us from God, and from others…not good.  Check this out.

James 1:14 Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. 15 These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. NLT

I want to show you one more very important area of your life that pride kills.

Pride kills your ability to grow.  You know what pride won’t allow you to do?  Grow, learn, and keep developing.  Why would you need to learn anything, if you believe you are good right where you are?  This is such a dangerous place to be.  We all can learn, and should be learning, but pride in our lives we can’t listen, we can’t hear teaching, and we stunt our growth…not good.  We must keep learning, keep growing…no one knows it all!  As I write this I was thinking of so many places where we are encouraged to follow God’s teaching and counsel, from Solomon’s words, to David’s…but imagine being so full of pride that we couldn’t follow Jesus’ teaching…I wonder if reading this you could see the danger in not growing or listening or not learning anymore…

Matthew 11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” MSG

So pride is a sneaky and silent killer…it kills my friendships and relationships isolating me from people.  It kills my relationship with God because I’m putting myself in God’s spot in my life…and imagine not being able to learn and grow.  It’s pride that could keep us from learning and walking into the unforced rhythms of grace…and I don’t know about you but I want to learn to live freely and lightly, with pride in my life blocking me from being teachable, I never learn and can’t grow spiritually to that place that I want to be, living freely and lightly in the unforced rhythms of grace.  I like just saying unforced rhythms of grace, it just sounds awesome doesn’t it?  Pride blocks us from a lot of these life lines and the issue is we don’t or can’t see it in our lives.

So pride is me saying, “I’m good, I don’t need God or anyone’s help to do life.  I’m good, and just a little better than everyone else.”  And as we get started today I wanted you to see just how dangerous this pride things is…it’s a killer.  It kills your growth and your relationships with God and with people.  What is amazing is that pride is at the very essence of sin, is talked about all through scripture…but is still something so many of us deal with…because in the end we people come into this world sinful beings…and without Jesus’ help we can’t push past and break free from this one because we simply don’t see it in our lives.  It’s amazing how often pride comes up in scripture…warning, after warning about pride.  In fact there is a bit of a pattern in the warning!  Let’s see if you can pick up on it.  Let’s start with Solomon’s words here…

Proverbs 3:34 The LORD mocks at mockers, but he shows favor to the humble. NLT

Proverbs 29:23 Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors. MSG

Let’s move to Jesus for a moment…

Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. NIV

There is a pattern forming, do you see it?  Let’s check out James here…

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”   7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. NIV

Ok here’s Peter joining in and once again showing us the pattern, oh man this is fun!

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  NIV

So I think it is pretty clear here…God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  We must see pride for what it is in our lives, and move to a place of humility so that we can experience God’s grace.

So before we move on to how we do that…I told you that we must see pride in our lives if we want to do something about it…and it isn’t easy to see.  It is the sneaky, silent killer…so I wanted to briefly touch on some symptoms of pride before we look to humility.  And I tried to grab some that aren’t all that obvious.  So try to personalize this some today, ask yourself if you see any of these things in your life?  I think it is interesting as you look at these symptoms…you probably would have never identified them as being rooted in or central to pride.  Like I said this is a sneaky one.

Fear and Anxiety – I don’t know if you would ever place pride and fear in the same category but remember pride is me doing all things and thinking all things are done by me.  So I can’t really find peace or rest because I’m dragging life through in my own strength.  It’s me centering everything on me which makes everything a lot more stressful than that free and light way of living that Jesus is trying to give us.  Think about this…pride is me putting it on my own shoulders.  It’s not God running the show it’s me running my own show, which is a problem since the reality of life is that no matter how hard I try, I’m actually not in control and God actually is.  So I can keep working hard on controlling or knowing what tomorrow may bring…but it’s out of my hands…so yeah, there would be fear and anxiety.  Remember those two verses I read to you last week from Proverbs?  As you read them they almost ooze peace, they just allow us to feel peace…this is God’s show…not ours right?

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. NLT

It’s funny but I think deep down this is our tension.  We have a plan.  We at least have an idea of what things should look like…but we aren’t in control, and I think it’s this wrestling match that can often keep us spiritually stuck…frustrated and overwhelmed and tired.  I don’t know that I would have labeled this as “pride” in my life…but I can see this tension, how about you?  A couple chapters later Solomon says this…

Proverbs 20:24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? NLT

Even as you read that can’t your feel the anxiety fall away…do you see it?

A lack of gratitude – I almost labeled this one entitlement, but I wanted you to see this for a moment, pride is me elevating me and it puts me in a place where I believe I’m owed everything so I’m not grateful for all that God provides…or all that I have.  I just assume it should be mine.  This makes me think of the Children of Israel as God saves them from Egyptian slavery and then they are mad at what he is providing for them as they wander through the desert.  It was manna instead of steaks I guess.  Pride says I should have everything, I deserve it…when you and I know from the entitlement talk a few weeks ago, what we people actually deserve is quite opposite to what pride thinks we deserve.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NIV

People Pleasing – Ok, this is a tough one because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be liked but if you think about it pride is really me centering on me.  Which means I probably want people to like me and celebrate me!  Listen we all want to be liked but in the end it will drive you nuts to try and keep everyone around you happy.  Good luck trying to keep all people’s perspective on you accurate and good luck controlling how people view you!  Sorry but that is a losing battle!  Pride is you wanting to look around and seeing everyone celebrating you and it’s focusing on you and people rather than focusing and centering on God.  Remember these powerful words from Paul…

Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.  NLT

A lack of prayer in your life – This one makes sense right?  I mean if I think I have this all under control I’m certainly not going to talk to God and ask him for help.  I was thinking about Jonah as I read this…remember Jonah who just didn’t want to go help the people of Ninevah…he simply doesn’t like them and didn’t think they deserved help.  Which is a pretty prideful statement in its own right.  He runs from God because he is going to do what he wants, not what God wants…and after being humbled quite a bit, and when I say humbled we are talking about being thrown overboard in a storm and swallowed by a fish and spending three days inside the fish, we see a much more humbled man come to God in prayer…

Jonah 2:7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. 9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. NIV

Amazingly different heart there than the guy that earlier told God he wouldn’t do what was asked of him.  So I wonder if you saw pride in these things…fear, anxiety, a lack of thanksgiving, or prayer.  Did you ever think that pride could be found in people pleasing?  There is nothing more sneaky and dangerous than pride…it is the silent killer.  There are many symptoms of pride in our lives.  If you can’t submit (remember our rebellion talk from last week) if you can’t follow or learn.  If you can’t ask for help…if you can’t lower yourself to certain tasks…which cracks me up.  Like you are so above sweeping a floor?  It’s a good thing Jesus didn’t take that attitude up with us as he lowered himself from the status of God, to enter our mess here on Earth…you know saving us all.  Glad he lived with more humility than us…but I digress.  I wanted you to see some things about pride today.  First I wanted you to see how dangerous and sneaky it is.  I wanted you to understand that it is a growth and relationship killer.  I also wanted to walk through some symptoms of it so that maybe we could start to see this sneaky silent killer in our lives.  If we don’t see it, we simply can’t do anything about it…and now I would like to show you the counter to pride…it is called humility and frankly it is a huge marker of our faith and should be a huge characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

Humility is very important but it is also very misunderstood.  Some people have decided that having humility is having a low view of yourself, or a low opinion of yourself.  Humility isn’t a lack of self-worth. That is not the heart of humility.  Humility is when we stop thinking about and stop centering our lives and stop focusing on ourselves and we begin to center on and submit to God.  If pride is me focused and raising myself up, think of humility as the complete opposite.  It’s me focused on and raising God up.  Think of the shift that happens as we start to spend time with God.  How the focus shifts off of us and onto Him.  As I was preparing this talk I came across this great quote from CS Lewis about humility and what it is and frankly it also helps us see what it isn’t…

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” CS Lewis

Humility isn’t about thinking less or devaluing yourself.  It’s about centering on and valuing God as He should be focused on in your life.  It’s also about raising others up!  Check this out…

Philippians 2:3 Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. 4 Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6 He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7 Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8 Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death — and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. MSG

So I wanted you to understand something.  Pride is a silent and sneaky killer.  It kills your spiritual growth.  It kills your relationships…and the scary thing is you may never even know it’s there.  Which is why we worked so hard today to expose pride in our lives.  And what is it that takes out pride?  The big counter to pride is humility.  Humility is so important.  It’s humility that protects us from and takes out this silent killer of pride.  And you need to understand something really important about humility.

If you aren’t spending time with God, I don’t think humility can take root in your life.  Humility begins as that miraculous shift that Jesus spoke of takes place in our lives…

Matthew 6:6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. MSG

Isn’t that awesome…as the focus shifts off of me and onto God I begin to sense his grace…isn’t that what we saw earlier?  That as I allow Jesus to lead he will allow me to live in that grace…freely and lightly right?  Isn’t this awesome?

Matthew 11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” MSG

Isn’t that what we saw earlier that God gives the humble?

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

I want that in my life how about you?  This can’t happen with pride in my life…because pride will never allow me to submit and allow God to lead.  Remember pride is a relationship killer…it keeps us from God’s grace.  Do you see it?  The more time we spend with God the bigger we realize he is and the smaller we realize we are.  The more we see He is in control and the less we think we are…and I think that is when we start to live freely and lightly experiencing the unforced rhythms of grace.

So if you are in here today, and you are recognizing pride in your life I don’t want you to feel discouraged by that.  I think recognizing pride is a huge part of the battle.  Because it is so sneaky.  As for how we break free from it…I think it’s about doing the practical and the spiritual things necessary to move away from pride and towards a more humble lifestyle.

I think it starts with your time with God.  Spending intentional time with God in His word.  Allowing His word to shape and mold you.  Spend time in prayer and meditating on who God is.  Maybe take a walk and look at the sky that God made, the trees that He allows to stand.  Begin to reflect on His magnitude in a new way.  Keep spending time with God and every day I believe this miraculous shift will continue where we stop focusing in on ourselves and begin to center on Him and his grace.  Look at all you have and be thankful for what God provides.  And when it comes to the people around you, can you serve?  Can you be thankful?  Can you raise up others in a way you haven’t before?  Maybe it’s time to start thanking your boss for leading.  Maybe if you’re the boss it’s time to start thanking the team under you.  Maybe for some of you it’s time to do the task you didn’t want to do before.  For some of us it may just be time to admit we need help from time to time…but as we begin to do these simple practices…humility can start taking the ground that pride has in our lives.  That is when we can live freely and lightly…experiencing God’s grace…which sounds like a lot of fun if you ask me.

Humility is the key to defeating this silent killer in our lives.