Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spiritual Kryptonite

Iris and I are in the midst of one of those ministry highs that God occasionally allows in the lives of His kids. Over Labor-Day Weekend, we gathered with more than 400 Christ-followers from across the military. Their faith, hope and love combined with commitment and zeal was contagious and overwhelming. At one point we met with the army gang and heard ministry reports from twenty-three different army locations. There were stories of people coming to faith, of baptisms, of new communities started, of people taking the gospel overseas. Everywhere were signs of growth, health, and vibrancy.

We left that mountain-top experience and dove into a season of visiting several of our ministries at army installations. Everywhere we are seeing ordinary people advancing the gospel in extraordinary ways. God is really working in the military these days and I'm convinced that what is happening in the military will overflow to the cities and the nations. (We are already seeing the beginnings of that).

Still in the middle of all this, I got up early to read my Bible and was struck by these Words from God to Ezekiel about Assyria: “Because of the magnificence I gave this tree, it was the envy of all the other trees of Eden, the garden of God. “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because it became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, reaching to the clouds, I handed it over to a mighty nation that destroyed it as its wickedness deserved. I myself discarded it.”
(Ezekiel 31:9–11 NLT)

Assyria had become great and mighty in many ways - even blessing the nations that surrounded them. The problem came when the leaders of that nation began to take credit for that which God had done in blessing them. We see this pattern again and again throughout scripture. God blesses, the blessed people become arrogant (somehow believing that the blessing of God was self-created) and God then humbles the people by removing His hand of blessing. “Let no other nation proudly exult in its own prosperity, though it be higher than the clouds, for all are doomed. They will land in the pit along with all the proud people of the world.” (Ezekiel 31:14 NLT)

Is it really possible to stop the work of God? Maybe not, but it is possible to stop the work of God from flowing through me. There's a universal principle that God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1Peter 5:5). I don't know about you, but I don't want God opposed to me. And I don't know about you, but I want (need!) God's grace.

Pride originated with Satan. It flows out of an unwillingness to humble ourselves before God or an attitude of indifference or independence from God.  Nothing good comes from pride. The end result of pride is always destruction. Pride is bad; humility is good. So how do we stay humble (especially during times of great blessing)?

This truth helps me more than any: Jesus is humble. If anyone had a right to be prideful, it was Jesus; yet He was humble. What do we have to be proud of? Is there anything good in our lives that did not originate outside of ourselves? Jesus lived humility and He commanded humility. Jesus' birth, His life and His death were those of a humble man. He never exalted Himself, but instead exalted His Father. He told His followers that those who exalted themselves would be humbled and those who humbled themselves would be exalted.

So how does one learn humility? Study and imitate Christ. He lived life in a humble manner.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” (Hebrews 12:2 MESSAGE)

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Yes! Looking at the magnificence of Christ, and preaching the gospel to myself everyday are a strong vaccine to pride.