Summary: The story of Edom can become our story and their stumbling blocks within can become ours
“Stumbling Blocks to God”
An old American Indian tale recounts the story of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle within. "It is like two Stumbling Blocks s fighting inside of us," the chief told them. "There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always wants to do the wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and wrong is winning the fight." "Who is going to win in the end?" a young brave asks. The chief answered "The one you feed." In our Scripture today, Obadiah tells us there are two dogs inside us and they attack from within, eat your future and suck the joy out of life.
Most people haven’t read Obadiah because it is tucked away in the back of the Old Testament. It’s the shortest book in the Old Testament. The name Obadiah means “Servant of Yahweh” which is interesting because he was called to speak a prophetic message to a people who were not being faithful to God and their faith. We don't know who Obadiah was. The reason is that this is a book of prophecy and prophecy never focuses on the messenger but only the message and the giver of the message, God. Obadiah’s message wasn’t popular because he had to tell a nation, the country of Edom, who were Israel’s neighbors to the East that judgment was coming. The book as written around 586 B.C. after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Edom was sitting on the sidelines and watching and thinking they were safe because they lived in a mountainous area. But what God sees in Edom are two stumbling blocks which guarantee their downfall. Here’s why this is so important to you and me - because the story of Edom can become our story and their stumbling blocks within can become ours.
The first stumbling block is pride. A man arrives at the gates of heaven. St. Peter asks, "Denomination?" The man says, "Methodist." St. Peter looks down his list, and says, "Go to room 24, but be very quiet as you pass room 8." Another man arrives at the gates of heaven. "Denomination?" "Lutheran." "Go to room 18, but be very quiet as you pass room 8." A third man arrives at the gates. "Denomination?" "Presbyterian." "Go to room 11, but be very quiet as you pass room 8." The man says, "I can understand there being different rooms for different denominations, but why must I be quiet when I pass room 8?" St. Peter tells him, "Well the Baptists are in room 8, and they think they're the only ones here.”
In Proverbs 6:16-19, God lists the things He hates and at the top of the list is pride. James 4:6 says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” There are 2 types of pride and one of them isn’t bad. There’s the pride you feel when your kids do the right thing. That’s normal and healthy and really what we’re experiencing is joy. There’s pride that you feel when you do something good like graduating from college or finishing a difficult project and that feeling is more about self esteem. But then there’s the pride where you need to prove you’re self worth and that’s about insecurity. You need to beat others down to elevate yourself. It’s kind of like crabs in a bucket. So often we end up trying to prove our self worth by playing the comparison game, you know, comparing yourself incessantly with others and criticizing them to make yourself look better and feel superior. We compare our marriages, our careers, our homes, our cars, our clothes, our grades, our body, and on and on. We do this because we believe that someone couldn’t love us just for being you.
Nothing good comes out of comparing yourself with someone else! Comparing does one of two things: you either get depressed because you don’t measure up or you fill up with pride because you think you’re so much better than the other person. Neither serves you or the purposes of the kingdom. Paul writes in Romans 12:13, “Don't cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.” I love that phrase: “A sane estimate” which means, you recognize your strengths and weaknesses and realize what you’re good at and what you aren’t and how God has blessed and gifted you. Like I think I’m good Bible teacher but am I the greatest to ever open his mouth. No, but I think I’m good. That’s a sober estimation. Beware of the people who will try to act humble, but aren’t. They say, “I’m not very good. I can’t believe anyone listens to me at all.” That’s pride because people they’re really just fishing for a compliment. They fake humility just so people will say how awesome they are.