Do you know what is the preminent title you can ever attain in life? It is simply this: to be called “a servant of Christ.” This is no small thing, for Christ is the Lord of glory. To serve Him is to serve the one who is ultimately worthy. What higher place can we attain than that? It does not matter what the assignment is. It might be preaching to thousands, or it might be cleaning up after the kids in children’s ministry. What matters is doing what God has assigned to you – and then realize that everything that was accomplished was grace. God owns grace, and everything that was a mess (e.g. sin) – well, you own that! Do you remember what Paul taught the Corinthians about leadership?
“This is how one should regard us – as servants and stewards, as farmers and as builders. We are subordinates – only doing what our master has assigned.” In Luke 17:10, Jesus says, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” But pride gets in the way and pride is not easily defeated. Pride elevates human abilities – and ignores human depravity. It was the great theologian Augustine who pointed out that, “Whatever there is of excellence in mankind, is not implanted in him by nature, so that it could be ascribed either to nature or to descent; and farther, that it is not acquired by free will, so as to bring God under obligation, but flows from his pure and undeserved nature.”
The only thing you own is your sin. ALL the other positive characteristics and actions in your life reflect on a good God working through an evil vessel like you! Think of what God has given you. Health, intelligence, strength, opportunity, abilities, skills, family, friends – even your moral values are a gift from God. But some of you evaluate yourself against other people. You might be feeling smugly superior to someone because of your I.Q., your education, your job, your work ethic, your moral virtues, your appearance, and even accomplishments that are superior to others. You have forgotten grace. Just when we think we understand that it is all about grace, we quickly forget it. Pride with its insidious tentacles is back, and makes us believe that we really do know the secret mind of God.
So – is it really possible to defeat pride and hang on to mercy? Yes it is. We can do this by remembering that all we have is from God. Some time ago, I had an interesting conversation with a man who had grown up in a Christian home but had rejected the gospel. He told me the key reason for his rejection was this nonsense about humility. He told me he worked hard for everything he had accomplished – and owed God nothing. And he certainly was not going to give God any credit for what he had accomplished on his own. Most of us might say, “I would never say that!” Yet, aren’t we saying something very similar all the time?
For example, when we become fixated on judging our leaders and pitting them one against the other, are we not saying that? When we look down at someone who is less spiritual, has accomplished less, does not seem to understand as quickly as we do, or is not as gifted as we are, are we not cursing our Creator – and elevating ourselves above His provision? We must not go beyond Scripture and take credit for that which God has given as a gift of grace.
APPLICATION: Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray, please help us to understand things as You see them so that we might become truly humble in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, amen.
PRIDE ELEVATES HUMAN ABILITIES – AND IGNORES HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
Dr. John Neufeld
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