Summary: After God convicts us of our pride and humbles us, he fills us with hope and equips us to live lives that glorify him.
What is the number one sin that can bring you down? What is the number one sin that can destroy a pastor's ministry? This sin can destroy your relationships with your members, with your fellow called workers. This sin can destroy your relationship with your wife and children. Ultimately, this sin can destroy your relationship with God - what is it?
Do you ever worry that you might say something or do something as a pastor that would bring dishonor to God's name and his kingdom? You hear sometimes, about the sins that others commit. There is that Pharisee inside of every one of us that says, "I'm glad I'm not like that sinner." And after we brush that Pharisee off our shoulders, we think to ourselves, "Could I ever fall into that sin? What if I did something or said something that would push people away from God? Could I ever do something or say something that would embarrass my family?" Have you ever had these thoughts before?
There is one sin in particular that could cause you to do those kinds of things. It's the sin of pride. It's the root cause of so many other sins. Pride can you and me, not just as pastors, but as children of God. Pride can hurt people and bring dishonor to God. This morning we're going to examine ourselves in light of God's Word as we prepare for the Lord's Supper, and as we do, God is going to convict each one of us as pastors of the sin of pride. We're also going to hear God speak to us his words of comfort and forgiveness, as he lifts our eyes away from our sins and to his grace. Be humble! Be hopeful! These are God's Words to us this morning.
What are symptoms of pride? Verses 1-2 talk about quarrelling and fighting, killing and coveting, because we cannot have what we want. Have you ever done that? In your mind, "I think this is what should be happening in my parish, in my church body. I think this is what should be happening in my home, in my life. My opinion is the right one" we say, so we quarrel and fight with people at church, with our brothers in the ministry, with family. Maybe we even resent people sometimes, perhaps even having moments of hating somebody, as we covet a situation we cannot have. Can you see yourself, your pride, in these verses?
The end of verse 2 says, "You don't have, because you don't ask God." Not praying to God is also symptom of pride. Why should I pray to him when I can solve all the problems of my parish and my church body and my family with my own wisdom and my own effort? How often do you pray? Some sources describe Martin Luther spending hours in prayer, just in one day. Jesus would often withdraw to lonely places and pray. What stops you and me from doing that? Do we rely on our own wisdom and our own efforts, that we forget to rely on God's wisdom and God's efforts in prayer? Can you see yourself, your pride, in this verse?
Verse 3 says that sometimes my prayers aren't answered, because I'm asking with selfish motives that I might spend what I get on my pleasures. Why do I pray for a higher attendance? Higher enrollment in our schools, more people in Bible class, more volunteers for boards and committees - why do II pray for that? Is it really because I want more people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and enter the kingdom of God? Or is there a part of me that just likes the feeling of having lots of people sitting at my feet, listening to me talk, validating all of my ideas and programs and stylistic tendencies with their attendance. Why do I pray for things? What really are my motives? Could there be some pride in my heart as I ask God for his blessings on what I do?
Verse 4 accuses you and me of being too friendly with the world: "Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." What does that mean, to be a friend of the world? The world refers to unbelievers. Jesus wants us to be in the unbelieving world, but not of it. Paul tells us to not to conform to the unbelieving world. Have I conformed, even just slightly in my life? Am I resembling the world more than I realize with my attitudes, my lifestyle? The unbelieving world is too proud to trust in Christ, it's obsessed with pleasing and entertaining itself. We live in a world of consumers, people who are overrun by technology and not really managing it very well. Does that describe me? The Greek word for "hedonism" can be found in these verses - to love pleasure - that's the world. Is that me? Am I more like the proud world than I realize? You can't be a friend of the world and a friend of God, this passage says. We think we can, and that's pride. "Do not love the world or anything in the world." And we do. This is hatred towards God, and makes us enemies of God.