I Got a Problem? You Got a Problem! – The Problem of Pride
Purity 506 08/25/2021 Purity 506 Podcast
Today’s phantom like photo of bales of hay with the ghostly mist of morning next to a dense thicket on the border of some farmland at an undisclosed location, presumably in upstate NY, comes to us from Arthur Cincotti, Bible Study Composer and Photo Enthusiast. I must give Arthur some credit for this one. Although it doesn’t reflect our current season, I would guess this was taken in the autumn of 2020, it caught my eye this morning and I decided to step outside of the box and share a photo that was “out of season”. But as I have a loose framework for how I put these messages together, it actually fits.
It's Wednesday, and these “humps of hay”, brought to you by Mr. Cincotti, are here to encourage you in progressing over that midweek summit with the confidence, hope, and expectation that comes from walking in the Spirit.
Tonight, I attend a men’s accountability group and I think it is rather humorous and appropriate that a group that is meeting to support one another in sexual purity is meeting on “hump day”. I have found that when we are seeking to walk away from the darkness of the past, addictions, or old behaviors it is best to do so with a sense of humor. Sometimes its laugh or cry, and when I’m in public I choose to joke and laugh. The crying is generally done in private. Tears of a clown, right? When no one’s around.
Humor can be a big defense mechanism for us. We use our humor to get attention and to get people to like us. In the recent Friend’s reunion, Matthew Perry who has a history of recovery issues, in speaking about a scene from a past episode, revealed how he just had to get a laugh and would actively look for opportunities to do so. He confessed about how so much of his self-worth was tied up in getting that attention and that response of laughter.
I saw myself in Perry’s comments as I have played that role of the practical joker and comedian in my family growing up and still do and use my humor to try to ingratiate myself to people. I think a lot of people who used to be the “life of the party” can relate. But this wasn’t supposed to be about me! I began writing this to point to something else. Pride.
Last week at our men’s support group, one of the guys shared that he was a little bothered by the fact that the meeting was held on a night when there were other activities going on at the place where we were meeting, and he had a problem with what this meant in terms of confidentiality. He stated that “everyone” knew why we were there and that it was “no secret” to anybody. He then grew a little upset and said that the area of sexual purity in men was a big problem and that there should be more men there and he was bothered that he was “one of the few” that were invited to be a part of this group.
I tried to assure him that no one really what he was doing there, and that for all anyone knew he could be there as someone who had victory in this area and was there to just give support and offer help, and that no one knew anything about his “problem” or the extent of it. I didn’t say it, but I was thinking “that would include us” as none of the group has really opened up about their struggles yet.
In hindsight, I would have also included that people generally don’t care. I think it was Joyce Meyer who said once that “If we knew how little other people thought about us, we wouldn’t be so concerned about what they think.” We tend to be self-focused.
But I guess we also tend to judge and think badly about others too. This man’s concern with how he was perceived by others and his comments reveals that he has considered the problems other people were hiding.
“I got a problem? Well, you got a problem too… at least I’m honest!”
That’s thing about getting help. The stigma. I encourage people to get help but let’s not be coy. You will be judged. People will treat you differently. And some always will, no matter how many years you are free. Ask me how I know.
But you know what? That’s a consequence of going astray and climbing out of darkness and we are going to have to live with it. We will never regain some people’s respect or “good opinion” but what we can gain is freedom, peace, maturity, and joy.
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are “made right” with God and given the power to be free. But if we let the opinions of men keep us from being open, honest, and transparent, we will never experience freedom and the new life that Christ has for us.
“But what if they judge me? What if they don’t include me? What if they reject me?
I “did everything right” by going into recovery and I still have this stigma! What’s the point?”
The point is that you are no longer in bondage and your freedom from whatever problems you overcome is a testimony of the goodness of God and His grace, mercy, and power in your life.
What do you do with the people who reject you and treat you like a second class citizen?
Well, Jesus forgave those who crucified Him from the cross. The Word commands us to forgive. So we do that, again and again, over, and over, because God forgave us and gave us a new and eternal life when we didn’t deserve it.
As disciples of Christ we are to learn from His example and follow Him. In Matthew 11:29, Christ said that He was “meek and lowly in heart”, That’s means He was humble so we should be humble.
Our pride can keep us from seeking help and finding the “rest” and new life that God wants for us. Our pride can stop us from helping other people because we “don’t know what to say” or “don’t want to look foolish”. When we are prideful, we make ourselves more important that God and others. We worship our “image” instead of God who is calling us to repentance and the freedom, victory, and new life that lie on the other side of it.
So, let go and let God. The cure to pride is truth.
“Yup, I used to have all kinds of problems. They may not have been as bad as you think, or they could have been a lot worse than you could ever imagine. But the thing is that God has set me free and while I could tell you a lot of stories about my past, I would rather tell you about the One who set me free and encourage you to follow Him.”
So keep walking and talking with God. Lay down your pride because you will never “do everything right” and when you aren’t so full of yourself you will discover that the Lord is ready to fill you with His love, wisdom, and power that will transform your life and cause you to seek His purpose.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
John 8:31 (NKJV)
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
Today’s verse makes the connection between our relationship as disciples of Jesus Christ with the word of God.
One of the first things I did after I got saved back in 2010 was I dusted off a Bible I had received when I was confirmed as an Episcopalian years before, grabbed a highlighter, and started reading the word.
I finally understood that salvation had come through my faith in Christ alone, but the joy of my salvation gave me a big desire to be as authentic a Christian as I could be, but I also wanted to make sure that “this thing was for real.”
I didn’t want to be one of these “blind faith” types that don’t seem to have any knowledge about their own religion and just blindly “trust and obey”. I wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of being some mindless sheep that just does “what pastor says”. I was going to investigate my newfound faith in Christ to make sure I wasn’t being led astray.
I also wanted to know what the Bible had to say about the God who loved me enough to save a wretch like me.
Those desires have led me to read the Bible several times and to get degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Counseling. Knowing the word is one thing. And I could study the Bible for the rest of my days and not be fully content that I “know” the Word.
But Abiding in His word indicates that we meditate on what it says and apply it to our lives. Abiding is the key to discipleship. We read, ponder, and meditate on the word and then endeavor to shape our lives according to the word of God.
Christ said it Himself. Those who do that are His disciples.
So surrender parts of your life that are consuming your time and money that don’t draw you closer to the Lord. There is great value in being Christ’s disciples and I encourage you to draw closer to Him.
John the Baptist said that he must decrease, and Christ must increase. That can be taken as advice for all of us. Exchanging our worldly ways for the ways of the Lord not only reveals our identity as true disciples of Jesus Christ, it also is blessed by a continuous flow of the fruit of the Spirit into our lives.
So abide in the Word of God and rejoice that you are a disciple of the Savior of the world.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, concluding Chapter 12.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
When You Are Tempted to Criticize or Reject Others
Express Your Needs Without Judging
If you have legitimate needs in a relationship that are not being met, should you risk conveying criticism and rejection by expressing your needs? Yes, but express them in such a way that you don't impugn the other person's character.
For example, you may feel unloved in a relationship, so you say, "You don't love me anymore." Or you think your spouse doesn't value you, so you say, "You make me feel worthless." Or you feel a distance developing between you and your friend, so you say, "You never write or call." You haven't really expressed your need. You criticized the other person. You are usurping the role of the other person's conscience. By pushing off your need as that person's problem, the person will probably respond by getting defensive, further straining the relationship.
What if you expressed your needs this way: "I don't feel loved anymore"; "I feel like a worthless, unimportant person"; "I miss it when we don't communicate regularly"? By changing the "you" accusation to an "I" message, you express your need without blaming anyone. Your nonjudgmental approach allows God to deal with the person's conscience and turns a potential conflict into an opportunity for ministry. The other person is free to respond to your need instead of being defensive against your attack.
We all need to be loved, accepted, and affirmed. When these needs go unmet, it is very important that we express them to our family members and fellow Christians in a positive way and allow others to minister to those needs. I believe that a basis for temptation are unmet, legitimate needs. When you are too proud to say, "I don't feel loved," or when you push others away by saying, "You don't love me anymore," your need for love goes unmet. So Satan comes along with a tempting alternative: "Your wife doesn't love you like you deserve. But have you noticed the affectionate gleam in your secretary's eye?"
God's primary resources for meeting your needs and keeping you pure are other believers. The problem is that many go to Sunday School, church and Bible study wearing a sanctimonious mask. Wanting to appear strong and together, they rob themselves of the opportunity of having their needs met in the warmth and safety of the Christian community. In the process, they rob the community of the opportunity to minister to their needs—one of the primary reasons God gathered us into churches. By denying other believers the privilege of meeting your legitimate needs, you are acting independently of God, and you are vulnerable to getting your needs met by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
A pastor once humorously quipped, "The ministry would be a great career if it wasn't for people." Perhaps you have said something similar, such as "Growing in Christ would be easy if it wasn't for the people." We all know that following Christ involves both the vertical and the horizontal—loving God and loving people. It is important to know that God works in our lives through committed relationships. Where better to learn patience, kindness, forgiveness, and team spirit than in the close quarters of working relationships? Committed relationships can be extremely difficult unless we accept our responsibilities to grow and to love others. You can make that commitment. Remember, you are the only one who can keep you from becoming the person God wants you to be.
One of my students brought me the following poem that he insisted was a description of me. I hope he is right. I share it with you because I believe it provides a helpful perspective for our sometimes prickly relationships as Christians:
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for the underdog anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you've got and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
Anybody can find character defects and performance flaws in another Christian. It takes the grace of God to look beyond an impulsive Peter to see in him the rock of the Jerusalem church. It takes the grace of God to look beyond Saul the persecutor to see in him Paul the apostle. So as you live day to day with people who are sometimes less than saintly in their behavior—and who see you the same way—may I simply say, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you" (2 Peter 1:2).
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in
God bless you all!
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