A man has six children and is very proud of his achievement. He is so proud of himself that he starts calling his wife “Mother of Six” in spite of her objections. One night they go to a party. The man decides that it’s time to go home, and wants to find out if his wife is ready to leave as well. He shouts at the top of his voice, “Shall we go home Mother of Six?” His wife, irritated by her husbands’ lack of discretion shouts back… “Anytime you’re ready, Father of Four!”
we can all get a tad full of pride in ourselves through our
accomplishments, the things we do, the gifts or talents we have, or
the responsibilities we are given. But that’s how the world thinks:
“Take pride in your work!” We often hear people say. I agree we should care about the quality of our work, but pride is actually contrary to God’s thinking and concern for your life.
According to my Webster, pride is an inordinate amount of self-esteem; haughty, conceit. In a Biblical sense, pride is the lifting up of oneself. Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. But when people achieve greatness, fame, and celebrity status, it’s amazing how quickly they buy into their own greatness and how pride begins to grow like a weed inside of them. Just look at Tiger Woods and what he is going through.
How much do you think pride has to do with his problems? If he was not a super-star golfer, would he have had any of these problems? How much do you think pride has to do with any of our problems?
As Christians, pride is something we should be on guard against because it has no place in the believer’s life. In fact, it is so dangerous it can bring about punishment from God. Now the opposite of pride is humility and we should take every opportunity to replace pride with humility.
To help us with that, Christmas time can remind us of how important humility and humbleness of heart is to God. Even in the place where Jesus was born, listen to what the prophet Micah wrote concerning Bethlehem in Micah 5:1-5.
Up until Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem was one of the most humble places on earth.
- There were no great battles fought there.
- It used to have a different name.
- The first time it’s ever mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 35:16-19. It’s the place where Rachael, the wife of Isaac, died while giving birth to Benjamin. They were on the way to Bethlehem when she went into labor and delivered Benjamin. Isaac buried here along the road and placed a pillar over her grave, which is still there today.
But we know Bethlehem today as the birthplace of Jesus, but Bethlehem should remind us also that out of this humble place the savior of the world was born. God chose the lowliest place for the greatest of events – the birth of the savior, the King of Israel, the long-awaited Messiah, God Incarnate.
This is the greatest principle in how God works throughout Scripture and in our lives each and every day – Out of humility god does great things.
- Listen to what St. James tells us concerning pride and humility: James 4:6, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
- God taught me this lesson in a real way a long time ago.
- When I was in college I got a job with the maintenance department at Kent State and I was a Resident Advisor. Then a spot came open for an emergency maintenance guy in the international/family student housing complex and I got it. I carried a beeper at night and when there was an emergency maintenance call I handled it. You know, like plunging toilettes. If I couldn’t fix the problem, I was to call in the regular maintenance guys. I was never allowed to touch the boilers, however, except to shut down and re-start them. Well, I got a free apartment and a stipend. I also thought I wanted to move up to a full-time maintenance guy, so I was eager to prove my skills.
- One day I got called to an apartment that had no heat. I checked the boiler … I figured I would undo the tap bolt under the radiator. The guy asked me, “Do you know what you are doing? I answered, “Sure I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” But really, I was working far above my pay grade. I undid the bolt and suddenly all this slimy, oily black water came spewing out under high pressure dumping all over this Chinese man’s white carpeting. I panicked. I couldn’t stop the water from coming out because it was too hot to touch. I ran up to the boiler room and looked for a shut-off for the apartment, but couldn’t find one. All I could do was sit there and watch the water spew out and listen to this Chinese man yelling at his wife in Chinese.
- Proverbs 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
- I had to call the boiler technicians out because the entire system was draining into this man’s apartment from all the apartments above him. When they got there they showed me where the shutoff valve was under the tile next to the wall. My boss’s boss also came over and there in the apartment, he fired me.
- I knew, however, that God had brought me low. The next week I swallowed my pride and went over to the maintenance office and apologized. I also offered to pay for the carpet and damages, and my boss hired me back.
- I learned another Proverb: Proverbs 29:23, A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
When we look at the world around us, and those who are very successful by the world’s standards, we should always remember that God’s heart has always been with the humble, the meek, those of meager standing. The successful of this world announce their achievements through pomp and circumstance, with lots of TV cameras around, but that is now how God works.
This wisdom of Bethlehem shows us that just as Jesus was born in the humblest of conditions, it is a model of how God works and continues to work today.
Throughout the Bible the best people consider themselves the worst sinners. The greatest leader of Israel, Moses, was told by God at the burning bush to remove his sandals for he was on holy ground. His sandals represented his sinfulness. The great prophet, Isaiah, confessed, “I am a man of unclean lips.” The great Christian, Paul, confessed that he was “chief of sinners.” All this shows God at work in their hearts.
In 1979 a Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa, was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Most of her adult life was spent ministering to the poor and diseased in Calcutta, India. She accepted the prize with the comment, “I am unworthy.”
Christ himself dies in the deepest humility, on a cross, literally becoming sin on our behalf. As Christ was born in the humility of Bethlehem, he died in the humility of the cross, literally becoming sin on our behalf. But out of humility God does great things, and so it is still the same that in the humility of our own hearts we receive the greatest gift of God’s only begotten son, we receive Christ our Lord, and are born again, and likewise we respond, “I am unworthy.”
Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
How sad it would be to have no room for God in your heart. Pride can do that to us. So this year, let the little town of Bethlehem and the birth of Christ remind you of the dangers of pride and how important humility and humbleness of heart is before God.