Summary: This sermon deals with the issue of pride and how it manages to sneak upon us all.
God Lifts Up & God Brings Down
If someone says, that person is full of pride, what image comes to your mind? Do you see someone who is stuck on himself? Do you imagine someone who has a big head. Do you think of someone who likes to brag about what he or she has done. In reality that’s not pride, that’s being conceited. Pride is much more natural than being conceited.
We find a good description of pride in our New Testament reading when James gives a warning to us who go about busily planning our lives of making money, going to the mall, taking vacations and setting our calendars without recognizing, we are not in charge of tomorrow. God is. Pride is what makes us think “I deserve this.”
It is so easy to get into trouble when we think we deserve to be where we are in life. With the financial scandals going on on wall street, we are quick to point out how greedy those chief executives were in getting rich at the expense of shareholders and employees. But at the heart of it, it was not greed that began their downfall. Rather it was pride. Pride tells us, “I earned this position and I am entitled to the salary I make.”
Pride tells us “I’m in control and it is up to me to make things happen for my benefit.” Pride tells us, “I’m entitled to whatever I can get. I deserve this house, these clothes, and this lifestyle.” Pride tells us, “I really do not have to consider God’s opinion of what I’m doing.”
At the heart of pride, is living as though God had nothing to do with where we are in life. It is sheer foolishness to think we are who we are, because we made ourselves. The Bible teaches that it is God who exalts a person and God who brings a person back down.
We can think I got here because of my intelligence, my voice, my good looks, my skills or my whatever, but I want us to know there are people far more intelligent than us in mud houses, there are people who can sing better than us singing to animals, there are people who look a lot better than we do in villages people never heard of and there are those whose skills could rival Michael Jordan who never got the chance to play ball.
God raised us up whether we acknowledge it or not. There was an ordinary guy by the name of Jeroboam. He was just your plain run of the mill guy who didn’t mind working hard on the job. His supervisor reported that he was hardworker, and he received a promotion. Out of the millions of people to choose from, God decided he would lift Jeroboam up in his plans and purposes for the nation of Israel.
King Solomon was a wise man, who did not practice what he preached. He was one of the first educated fools. He deliberately disobeyed God in a number of areas and thought he could control the outcome. God decided to take away Solomon’s Kingdom and split it into two parts. One part would go to Solomon’s son, but the other part would go to a man who would obey God’s word.
God sent Ahijah a prophet to meet Jeroboam out in the countryside to tell him, that he would become the next king. Now Jeroboam was not from a royal family, and there was nothing that special about him. God simply chose to give him the opportunity. God said, “now listen, if you will do what I tell you to do, you and your descendants will reign for many generations to come.” God could have chosen anybody to offer this promise to, but he chose to offer it to Jeroboam. God intended to use Jeroboam to make a difference for his people.
God could have chosen anybody to be in the position you are in today. If you are not careful, you will think you got there because of who you are. Pride begins to sneak in and says, “yes, I’ve made it. Look where I am compared to some other people that I know.” We may not say it out loud, but we do whisper it in our hearts. We even begin to trust in our position. The psalmist wrote, “some trust in chariots, some trusts in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
There are some things that seem so sure in our lives. We think that its not possible to lose them, but I’m telling you this morning, it does not matter how high we go up, we are always susceptible to coming back down due to things we cannot control. Think of all the people with degrees hanging on their walls who worked for Enron at great salaries, who one day woke up and discovered because of the pride of a few people, they had not only lost their jobs, but their pensions as well. We can look here in our own city at LTV steel, where the pride of a few has brought misery and suffering to thousands of people.-