Obadiah 1, Psalm 128
A number of years ago a high school senior in a Christian school became pregnant and she was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremonies due to this. Many a Pastor has fallen in the area of adultery and they were removed from the pulpit and from the congregation. Many in all walks of life have been let go from their jobs for stealing, either small or large amounts. How many would not be able to graduate with the rest of their class, removed from the pulpit, or let go from their jobs due to pride. The answer is, probably none. The interesting thing is that we somehow believe that we are in a position to weigh sins. Those sins which are most egregious from a societal standpoint or are the most visible are judged most severely by us, the self-proclaimed judges. Pride infects everything, even our ranking of sins. How many like to tell of their rags to riches stories. How by the sweat of our brow and a little ingenuity we have climbed the social ladder. How many like to parade their kids before others illustrating just what good and loving parents we are. Yes, there is a responsibility on our part to live a godly life and raise our children accordingly, but it is only by the grace and mercy and the will of God that we accomplish what we do in life. There is such a tendency to believe nothing should ever change in our "self-made" lives due to our careful planning and strategy. A number of years ago when healthcare was beginning to change and what we make was beginning to decrease, two of my partners, both Jewish began complaining about the injustice of it, how unfair it was in light of how hard we work. In love, I politely reminded them that the year was 2003 and not 1937. I reminded them that they were Jewish physicians in the United States and not Germany. I reminded them that though their income might decrease they were not losing their profession, their families and their lives to the Nazis.
We read in Obadiah 1:3-4, "The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down, " says the Lord." The Edomites who God was pronouncing judgment on through Obadiah considered themselves impervious to anything and anyone. They were strategically in a militarily advantaged position, they were prosperous due to the trade route involving Syria and Egypt, they were known for both their riches and their wisdom. In their self-righteous and self-made eyes they had made it and were safe. In Proverbs we read in 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." In Proverbs 6:16-17, God lets us know what he feels about pride, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look,...". Jesus warned the religious leaders in His day in Matthew 23:12, "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Pride tends to make us feel above others as we see in the actions of Edom concerning Judah in Obadiah 1:12-13, "In the day that you stood on the other side-In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem-Even you were as one with them. But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly In the day of distress." Jacob and Esau (the father of the nation of Esau) were brothers. When it said in the last verse that Edom gazed, it can also be interpreted gloated.
The sin of pride is very present in our society. We can point at others who like to take selfies, exalt every area of their personal lives on social media, etc., but how often pride can creep into all of our lives. Do we take credit for our lives or realize that without God we would not even have our breath? Do we take credit for our children, or do we realize that we are merely stewards of God's gift? Do we take credit for our jobs and income or put all of our trust in God, realizing that we are totally undeserving of such grace and mercy? Do we believe that our ministry is our own or do we realize it is solely by the power of the Holy Spirit and we are simply allowed to be His vehicle.? Do we trust in our portfolios and 401K's for our future or do we place all of our trust in God as Daniel told King Belshazzar in Daniel 5:23, "...And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which you do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified." The truth is we deserve absolutely nothing. Everything that we have in our lives is due to the grace, mercy and love of God. Pride blinds, and keeps many from finding or fully trusting God. May we all take stock of our lives and realize that we have earned nothing. Then may we all drop to our knees in praise and worship to our God who has given us, His undeserving servants, everything good in our lives.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: