There were these 2 ducks and a frog that lived together in a pond on a farm. They were the best of friends. You could sit there and watch them all day as they would play together in that pond. However they began to have a drought like we have had and the pond was drying up and they knew that pretty soon they were going to have to move to another pond. Well for the ducks it was not a problem right. They could simply flap their wings and fly to another pond. But what to do about the frog? The frog would be dead before he found another pond. So the 2 ducks who cared for their friend so much decided that they would help the frog get to the pond they were going. They took a stick that could be held on both ends in the bills of the 2 ducks and they would fly side by side and that way the frog could hold on to the middle of the stick with his mouth as they flew to another pond for safety. The plan worked well. It was a strange sight to see the ducks and the frog flying along and so, as they were flying along a farmer looked up in sky and saw them. In admiration for their ingenuity he said. "Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?" The frog forgot what he was doing and with a sense of great pride in his wisdom he opened his mouth and said, "I d i i d ..!" A few moments later he was dead, splattered on the ground. He was too proud of his own accomplishments to keep his mouth shut and save his own life.
Last week we started a series of messages on the monsters in our lives. We looked at the topic of anger and the importance of resolving our anger immediately and the things that will happen if we don’t resolve that anger. Well today I want us to talk about a subject that is probably a very difficult subject to talk about because we don’t want to admit that it’s a problem. It’s the monster that is known as Pride.
What is pride? Well the dictionary defines pride as being “the state or quality of being proud. It is a feeling of self-esteem arising from one’s accomplishments, possessions etc. It’s being arrogant, cocky and basically annoying. The person with pride only wants to talk about themselves. It’s all about them.
You know you go to them and you ask them how they are doing and the next thing you know thirty minutes later they are still talking about themselves.
Well while that is a good definition of pride let me give you an even better definition. This comes from the Word of God and is found in Proverbs 16:18 which says Pride goes before destruction. And although we may condemn more visible sins, Pride by far is the most deadly. Pride acts as the gateway to just about every other sin, and Pride acts as a barrier between you and God, and your will and God’s will.
Proverbs 8:13 says that God hates pride. Today I want us to look at a story in 2 Kings that reminds us that we must be careful about letting pride into our lives. Pride can come in so easy and the next thing you know we can become so arrogant that we think we know better than God what we need and so we start snapping fingers and ordering God bless us in this manner and lead us in this direction. Or we tune God out and say I can take it from here. But God does not fit in a nice pretty little box. Because God works in might and powerful ways that you and I cannot imagine. Today let’s be careful to see what can cause pride and how pride can cause us to lose everything if we are not careful.
I. You Can Be Proud Without Being Full of Pride
In our study of anger last week, I expressed to you that anger was not a sin it’s how you handle your anger that becomes the sin. And today I want to share with you that you can be proud without being full of pride. Verse 1 tells us that Naaman had many things to be proud of. He was commander of an army, He was a great man according to the King, He was highly regarded by his peers, and He was a valiant soldier. He had a good name, good job, and a good life. Things were going well for Naaman. He was every momma’s dream of a good son.
Now do you think that it was okay for Naaman to be proud of his accomplishments? I think so. There is a difference between being proud and being full of sinful pride. Have you ever had a grandparent take out pictures of their grandchildren and show them to you and tell you how proud they are of their children? We see those bumper stickers that say I am proud of my child who is an honor roll student. It should be okay for us to be proud of the accomplishments of those things. It’s good to be proud that you graduated from high school or college. That’s not the problem.
The problem or the sin comes in when you take those accomplishments or things in your life and start to feel better than other people. You begin to get an ego and your head gets so big that you can’t walk through a door. Pride becomes sinful when you become inflated like a Macy Day’s Thanksgiving parade balloon. You got a bumper sticker saying your child is an honor roll student. You are proud of that. Anything wrong with that? No. But you got a bumper sticker that says My Child is an honor roll student and yours is not. Well there is problem there. When you start thinking you or something about you is better than others then you get rid of being proud and you become full of sinful pride.
The story is told of a CEO of a billion dollar company and they pull into a gas station to get gas. He goes in to pay and he comes out and sees his wife engaged in deep discussion with the service attendant. He finds out that she used to date this man back in High School. The CEO got in the car, and the two drove in silence. He was feeling pretty good about himself when he finally spoke: "I bet I know what you were thinking. I bet you were thinking you’re glad you married me, a Fortune 500 CEO, and not him, a service station attendant." His wife said, "No, I was thinking if I’d married him, he’d be a Fortune 500 CEO and you’d be a service station attendant."
While Naaman was successful the important thing is to understand why he was successful. It was not because of all of what he did but it tells us that the Lord had given the victory through Naaman. And the important thing to remember is that you and I have a lot to be proud of but we must focus on who it is that has made us what we are. All the things we accomplish all the gifts we have come from God. And we must always remember that.
So Naaman had a lot to be proud of and so far we don’t see any pride but just a man who has accomplished things. But there is one problem and Naaman’s life pretty much changes with one word towards the end of verse 1. While he was a great leader, great person and so on, Naaman became focused on his but. His but was that he had leprosy. We know that leprosy was a terrible illness it caused people to not to want to become close to you. People with leprosy were sent away not allowed to see their family not allowed to be a part of life. They were ostracized. That one word “but” changed everything for Naaman. Everything that he had accomplished, everything that he had done meant nothing because he was not focusing on that, but was focusing on the “but” in his life.
I think that this is a good message for all of us to see. We all have buts in our lives. I would love to serve, but I am too busy. Or I would love to be a Christian but I am not ready for that commitment yet. Well the but that Naaman had was going to kill him and the buts that we focus on to keep us from having a relationship with God will kill us as well. That’s the problem with pride. We get so hung up thinking that we don’t need any help that we can battle any and everything on our own instead of saying you know what I need God in my life and I need all that he has to offer to save me from my buts. Because I can be the nicest person in the world and do so many good works BUT if I don’t have Christ in my life then no matter how good I am I am still a sinner in need of grace.
So Naaman was going to die and he knew that he needed help and verses 2-8 tells us of a wonderful Israeli girl who had been captured and having a heart like Christ she wanted to help one of her captors and she told her boss that if Naaman would just go see the prophet Elisha, he will be able to cure Naaman’s leprosy. Well Naaman goes and asks the king if it is okay for him to go and see Elisha for help with this leprosy and the King of Aram in verse 5 says By all means go and so Naaman goes to meet with Elisha.
So the first thing that we see is that it is okay to be proud without being prideful and the second thing I want us to see today is that Pride
II: The Dangers Pride Can Have On Our Lives
So Naaman has an opportunity to be freed from this deathly disease and he proceeds to head to Elisha to ask for a cure and in verse 9 Naaman arrives at the door of the house and is met there by one of Elisha’s servants who tells him what he must do. Verse 10 says “Go wash yourself 7 times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.
Now I don’t know about you but that sounds like a pretty good dose of medicine. All Naaman has to do is take a bath in the Jordan river and he will be cleansed and healed. So what’s the problem?
The problem is pride. Remember pride is being arrogant thinking you are better than someone else. And that is what Naaman is feeling right now. He has a solution an easy solution to his deadly disease and instead of just doing what the doctor ordered, Naaman allows pride to get in the way. How? Instead of simply doing what the messenger of Elisha tells him to do, Naaman proceeds to get angry and puff his chest out and start fussing because Elisha did not come out to tell him what to do. Back in his country Naaman was a powerful person, people listened to him they respected him they did what he asked and when Elisah does not come out to talk to Naaman he gets ticked off.
And not only that Naaman was incensed that Elisah was sending him away to go and get healed by himself. Naaman did not want that cure. Naaman did not want to be healed that way. Notice how he wanted to be healed. In verse 11 Naaman says I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. You see what the problem is with pride. Did Naaman really want a healing or did he want a show. Naaman was expecting to be treated as royalty. He was expecting Elisha to come out and to be a Benny Hinn and put on a big show and smack him upside the head and he would fall down and be healed. He wanted it to be flashy and all God was trying to do was make it simple.
That’s the danger with pride. When we get full of pride we want to boast brag. We want people to know that we are the big shots. And pride can be dangerous because we can get so cocky that we begin to expect God to work in our lives in a powerful display of power. But that’s not how God works. God works in our lives in the way and manner that he chooses. There is another story in Kings that talks about the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 18. God came to Elijah not in a powerful wind, not in a powerful earthquake, not in a powerful fire but through a still small voice in a gentle whisper. Be willing to allow God to work in His way and in His time and not in ours or we will be in trouble. We must not be like Naaman and expect things to happen exactly like we want them too. Because if we are not careful our pride can cause us to miss out on what God wants to do in our lives. Let God work in the manner that God wants to work.
Another danger that is found in pride is this: pride can cause us to look down on others. This is seen in verse 12 as Naaman says hey why go to the Jordan River when I can go to the waters near my house. Naaman becomes angry because he is told to wash in the Jordan River instead of the rivers close to his house. Now the Jordan River was a muddy river and the other two were much cleaner and nicer. And Naaman did not want to lower himself to getting into a muddy river and expecting to be cleansed.
Have you ever seen pride work like that? Someone comes in and says well I am much better than you or my job or my car is much better than anything you will ever have. It’s when people start to puff themselves up. Yet we must be careful to not let our pride become inflated because we may have to swallow it someday. It’s like the story of the girl who asked to speak to the preacher after church one Sunday and she said Pastor I know I have this terrible sin and I don’t know what to do about it. The preacher said well what is the sin and the woman said I can’t help but feel that I am the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I should not think like that I just can’t help it. Can you help me? The preacher looked at her and said don’t worry friend that is not a sin it’s just a horrible mistake. It is vital that you and I understand that we are not better than anyone else. We are equal. Paul tells us that we are one in Christ. In God’s eyes, we are all important.
There is one final danger that can be seen with pride here today and that is this.
Pride can lead to Stubbornness
Have you ever heard the expression it’s either my way or the highway. That is a pride thing through and through and Naaman had that problem with His pride. He was told what he needed to do yet it was not the way Naaman wanted it and so he became stubborn and verse 12 tells us again of Naaman’s anger and that he went off in a rage.
Naaman wanted to get healed the way that he wanted to be healed and if did not get healed in the way that he wanted to get healed then he would not get healed. It’s as plain as that. Can you imagine? Here is a man that is dying with leprosy and all he has to do is listen to the words of the prophet and go take a plunge in the muddy Jordan River 7 times and he would be healed. That’s it. And yet, Naaman is willing to give up his healing, just to keep his pride! Imagine that. But we do it all the time, don’t we?
Why do some marriages fail? Because people keep their pride and are not willing to admit their mistakes. Why do families split apart? Because of someone’s pride who doesn’t want to admit that they have done wrong. Why are we so hung up on thinking that we are so much better off than ourselves. Why is it that people say I’m not going to go to church if it’s not done the way that I want it to be done? Why is it that people get upset if they don’t get the adoration and praise for something? It’s because pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it. The problem is because we have become so consumed with pride that we don’t want to admit that we are wrong, we don’t want to compromise, we don’t want to admit help because of our pride. It’s time for us to stop focusing on our buts as to why we are prideful and start focusing on being humble. Naaman was going to leave Elisha’s place, and he was going to leave with his pride intact, but there was one problem…he was still a leper. Naaman would leave with his pride but the leprosy still remained.
Isn’t it sad that there are many who have never accepted Christ as their savior and there is only one reason why that they haven’t. Because they don’t want to admit that they are a sinner, they don’t want to admit that they need help; they don’t want to admit that no matter how good they are or how much good they do, that it still takes a personal relationship with Christ to enter into heaven. They don’t want help even if it is help from God almighty to tell us how to live our lives. There are people who are willing to do everything to keep their pride, but are not willing to fall on their needs and accept a Savior. That’s the ultimate danger in pride.
Naaman was a lucky man because there were some people there that day that really cared for this man and did not want to see Naaman walk away from God. And so in verse 13 they go to him and say Naaman listen all Elisha asked was for you to be obedient and do something simple to receive healing that’s all it takes. Just be willing to trust in God and do what His prophet tells you to do. And so Naaman humbling himself of pride and being obedience to the Lord, he went down to that muddy Jordan River and as he came up for breathe on that seventh dunk, an amazing thing happened. He flesh was restored and Naaman was healed.
Who would have thunk it. Dipping yourself in the muddy Jordan River would heal Naaman of leprosy. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But look again and see that it worked for Naaman. You know many of the things that God tells us to do might not make sense to us. TO turn the other cheek, to forgive someone not seven times but seventy times, to love those who hate us, to give so that we may receive, to die so that we might live. And yes even to humble ourselves before the Lord so that we might be lifted up.
When Naaman humbled himself and obeyed God, a miracle took place. Maybe today you are like Naaman, you are proud and you need someone to talk some sense into you. Well I hope that the bad example of Naaman will create a positive example for you. But listen II know right now in your head you are saying Well yeah I got a problem with pride… but or Well yeah I do need help but… Or Well I need to accept Christ but… or I need to join a church but… Well today how about doing yourself a favor. Stop focusing on your but and start focusing on Christ. Be man or woman enough to admit that you need help and that you can’t do it on your own and give God a chance. And I promise that if you will humble yourself before God and admit your need and reach out to Him, I know that He will lift you up and take the focus away from your but… But you must be willing to change focus. Will you do that today?