Pride, Expectations, Offense, & Isolation Remedies – Love, Humility, & Forgiveness - Purity 833
Purity 833 09/09/2022 Purity 833 Podcast
Today’s photo of a lone woman sitting on the rocky cost of Lake Ontario at sunset comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography as they captured this moment on August 30, 2020, and it was reissued on social media when Facebook prompted our friend to share their “memory” once again.
Well, however rocky the course of the week has been in your life, we made it to the weekend, and it is my prayer that my friends enjoy it by counting their blessings rather and remembering offenses.
This week I spent some time with family as my Mother’s 75th birthday was Wednesday and like today’s woman on the shores of Lake Ontario, I am sitting alone and reflecting on the rocky ground and rough edges of human relationships, but luckily the Lord has provided a lot of instruction on how to take corrective action when we become offended or our expectations are not met when it comes to our interactions with others.
Although the path of Christian discipleship can be a solitary journey at times and the decision to follow the Lord with the way you live your life can make you feel isolated from others, Christ’s second great commandment reminds us that we are not supposed to isolate ourselves but instead are to endeavor to love others.
And scripture also reminds us that even though our walk in the Spirit can be a solitary endeavor at times, somehow this walk isn’t just about us! Our path is supposed to be one of humility and not pride, which just happens to be the root cause of our offense and can grow into relational difficulties.
Of course, I have this insight only after spending some time in prayer, Bible study, and reflection this morning because in the moment I am not always skillful with handling offenses or unmet expectations and sometimes respond in my unenlightened ways of the past that centered upon myself, caused me to isolate, and forgot about that call to love others and forgive where necessary.
So it’s back to the drawing board. But the good news is that when we stay committed to follow the Lord’s ways for living, our errors are exposed and we can change the patterns of our thoughts and behaviors to correct the coping mechanisms we developed in the past that may have “worked for me” but just happened to not be good for you or the other people in your life.
Here are some scriptures that will help us all to “put things into perspective”, about “what it is we should do” when we seek to represent God’s kingdom and subsequently have peace in our lives.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 18:15 (NKJV)
15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."…
Yeah, in thinking about our responses to our fellow man when we encounter offense or unmet expectations in our human relationships, I figured I would go right to the source of wisdom, the living Word of God, Himself, Jesus Christ.
These verses give us an idea about how we should seek to love our family, friends, and neighbors by resolving conflicts, if possible, and through an active and ongoing campaign of forgiveness.
In talking to family the other night and in my relationships in the past, I realized that the sense of our inner peace can really be tied to our view of ourselves, and our expectations of what others should or shouldn’t do in our interactions with them.
As the sole born again Christian at my mother’s birthday dinner, the other night I had the mixed feeling of happiness at being with my family and feelings of isolation as I felt like a fifth wheel at times when I didn’t have a lot to contribute to some of the conversations. While the concepts, topics, and pop culture references that were discussed weren’t completely foreign to me, I realized just how much the Lord has caused me to change from my past, as my interests aren’t what they used to be and in some areas of conversation I had absolutely nothing to contribute.
Also I noticed that I found myself somewhat saddened by the tone of the conversation as there were laments and complaints about certain aspects of life in our modern society that seemed somewhat hopeless. But I was also somewhat saddened by the fact that the solutions to problems or the ways to seek comfort that were being presented were either unwise or actually a root cause of the problems that were being discussed.
It was all very subtle of course but as the evening moved on I realized the I was disturbed because the gripes of what was bad or the praise for what was good in life were all coming from a non-biblical world view where everything – the good or the bad- was highly circumstantial. In a non-biblical worldview, there was no big picture, and everything was subject to the changing circumstances of life and the solutions to problems were shortsighted to say the least.
But unfortunately, as much as I could see the errors inherent in this non-biblical worldview, instead of feeling grateful for having the hope I have in Christ, I felt like I was a weirdo and felt isolated because I was different from the others.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a good time. It was a good dinner. But I walked away from it drained because of the difference between my family and me.
Which brings up my tendency to isolate.
I am some what a people pleaser. So rather than have difficult interactions with people or if I feel my expectations are not being met, instead of causing trouble I will leave the situation and go somewhere to be by myself.
This is of course, is not skillful, and is rooted in Satan’s original sin of pride.
When we make much of ourselves, when we focus on “ME”, anything that doesn’t agree with us or meet the expectations of what “I” think should happen, will cause offense and separate us from God’s will that tells us to forgive, love, and serve others.
So, we have to remember that and take corrective actions when we see that we are separating ourselves from the company of others. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done.
Just last night, I reunited with my wife but either due to the stress of the day or the fact that I found her in the midst of activity or was at a loss as what to do with myself, I foolishly declared my wife to be “the enemy” to my health goals because she was baking foods I am actively avoiding.
What I intended to be a joke, turned into a mini conflict as I realized I, capital I, meant it. My pride accused her of being against me and in the moment I couldn’t back away from it. My pride put me in opposition to the one I vowed to love for the rest of my life.
So the old coping mechanism of isolating myself kicked into operation and I found myself sitting alone in my office watching videos because I didn’t know how to re-enter into the mix as my wife was a flurry of activity, and my stepdaughter kept her in conversation until it was time to go to bed.
I wished her goodnight but the harmony in our relationship was not right. My offense of my wife’s divided attention caused me to isolate and now will cause me to humble myself and seek forgiveness to re-establish the harmony of our relationship.
And what’s to blame? Pride. I subconsciously went into my countryside home with expectations then weren’t met and I allowed them to cause a disturbance in our lives. Because it was all about me, I didn’t think it was, but apparently it was, I have to seek forgiveness to make things right again.
As humbling as this latest episode is, I hope that it will help me to realize that as much as I have learned and as much as I have changed from who I was in the past. The selfish – I – “Me” can still take center stage to cause problems.
This is probably the most daunting task for people when they come to faith in Christ: to become “other focused”, to change our priorities from the “me” centered universe to one where we love God first and others second rather than please ourselves.
I tend to learn from trials and errors, so I have learned a lot and I guess I will chalk up last night’s fiasco as another lesson to learn from on the path to being the person God created me to be.
So, try to learn from my mistakes, if you can.
Try not to focus too much on yourself or allow the responses of others to determine the circumstances of peace in your life.
As much as we need to forgive other’s “for they know not what they do”, we also have to be aware of what’s going on in us, what expectations we are setting up that can cause us to revert to unskillful ways of coping and leave us feeling isolated and in need of reconciliation with those we love.
So keep walking and talking with God. His path is the way of love, humility, and forgiveness and if we manage our expectations to not think too highly of ourselves and to obey the command to love others we will spend a lot less time seeking forgiveness and a lot less time alone.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Proverbs 16:18 (NLT2)
18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
Today’s verse reminds us that pride goes before destruction and that a haughty attitude can lead to failures.
Haughty is defined as “arrogantly superior or disdainful” and it is a word that is not used often but describes pride perfectly. Feeling superior requires us to elevate ourselves. Be it because of our looks, talents, intellect, or supposed spiritual understanding we can be haughty when we feel we have something that other people don’t have or that we have more of it than others. This arrogant view of our superiority requires a comparative analysis that results in our separating ourselves from others by declaring ourselves “different” from others. Our “being not the same” can go either way too. We can see ourselves as better or worse than others but our holding onto that difference is pride and it leads to destruction.
Pride will separate us from others here on earth and if we are not careful it will lead to our ultimate destruction for all of eternity as it could separate us from the Lord.
Pride says you need anyone. Pride says you don’t need to be forgiven. Pride says it doesn’t need a Savior.
On the earth, our pride will result in failure one way or another. Either our pride will be exposed as false when we fail to succeed in some way, or it will separate us from others.
In heaven, it will result in our just punishment in hell.
So let’s learn from today’s verse and follow the Apostle Paul’s advice in Romans 12:3 and not think too highly of ourselves by adopting an attitude of humility to avoid the falls and destruction that come from pride.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we begin sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
In times of church renewal holy scripture naturally becomes richer in content for us. Behind the daily catchwords and battle cries needed in the Church Struggle, a more intense, questioning search arises for the one who is our sole concern, for Jesus himself. What did Jesus want to say to us? What does he want from us today? How does he help us to be faithful Christians today? It is not ultimately important to us what this or that church leader wants. Rather, we want to know what Jesus wants. When we go to hear a sermon, his own word is what we want to hear. This matters to us not only for our own sakes, but also for all those who have become estranged from the church and its message. It is also our opinion that if Jesus himself and Jesus alone with his word were among us in our preaching, then quite a different set of people would hear the word and quite a different set of people would again turn away from it. It is not as if our church’s preaching were no longer God’s word, but there are so many dissonant sounds, so many human, harsh laws, and so many false hopes and consolations, which still obscure the pure word of Jesus and make a genuine decision more difficult. We surely intend our preaching to be preaching Christ alone. But it is not solely the fault of others if they find our preaching harsh and difficult because it is burdened with formulations and concepts foreign to them. It is simply not true that every word critical of our preaching today can be taken as a rejection of Christ or as anti-Christianity. Today there are a great number of people who come to our preaching, want to hear it, and then repeatedly have to admit sadly that we have made it too difficult for them to get to know Jesus. Do we really want to deny being in community with these people? They believe that it is not the word of Jesus itself that they wish to evade, but that too much of what comes between them and Jesus is merely human, institutional, or doctrinaire. Who among us would not instantly know all the answers which could be given to these people and with which we could easily evade responsibility for them? But would an answer not also demand that we ask whether we ourselves get in the way of Jesus’ word by depending perhaps too much on certain formulations, or on a type of sermon intended for its own time, place, and social structure? Or by preaching too “dogmatically” and not enough “for use in life”? Or by preferring to repeat certain ideas from scripture over and over and thus too heedlessly passing over other important passages? Or by preaching our own opinions and convictions too much and Jesus Christ himself too little? Nothing would contradict our own intention more deeply and would be more ruinous for our proclamation than if we burdened with difficult human rules those who are weary and heavy laden, whom Jesus calls unto himself. That would drive them away from him again. How that would mock the love of Jesus Christ in front of Christians and heathen! But since general questions and self-accusations do not help here, let us be led back to scripture, to the word and call of Jesus Christ himself. Away from the poverty and narrowness of our own convictions and questions, here is where we seek the breadth and riches which are bestowed on us in Jesus.
We desire to speak of the call to follow Jesus. In doing so, are we burdening people with a new, heavier yoke? Should even harder, more inexorable rules be added to all the human rules under which their souls and bodies groan? Should our admonition to follow Jesus only prick their uneasy and wounded consciences with an even sharper sting? For this latest of innumerable times in church history, should we make impossible, tormenting, eccentric demands, obedience to which would be the pious luxury of the few? Would such demands have to be rejected by people who work and worry about their daily bread, their jobs, and their families, as the most godless tempting of God? Should the church be trying to erect a spiritual reign of terror over people by threatening earthly and eternal punishment on its own authority and commanding everything a person must believe and do to be saved? Should the church’s word bring new tyranny and violent abuse to human souls? It may be that some people yearn for such servitude. But could the church ever serve such a longing?
When holy scripture speaks of following Jesus, it proclaims that people are free from all human rules, from everything which pressures, burdens, or causes worry and torment of conscience. In following Jesus, people are released from the hard yoke of their own laws to be under the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ. Does this disparage the seriousness of Jesus’ commandments? No. Instead, only where Jesus’ entire commandment and the call to unlimited discipleship remain intact are persons fully free to enter into Jesus’ community. Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burdens they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary. Jesus’ commandment is harsh, inhumanly harsh for someone who resists it. Jesus’ commandment is gentle and not difficult for someone who willingly accepts it. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus’ commandment has nothing to do with forced spiritual cures. Jesus demands nothing from us without giving us the strength to comply. Jesus’ commandment never wishes to destroy life, but rather to preserve, strengthen, and heal life.
But the question still troubles us: What could the call to follow Jesus mean today for the worker, the businessman, the farmer, or the soldier? Could it bring an intolerable dilemma into the existence of persons working in the world who are Christian? Is Christianity, defined as following Jesus, a possibility for too small a number of people? Does it imply a rejection of the great masses of people and contempt for the weak and poor? Does it thereby deny the great mercy of Jesus Christ, who came to the sinners and tax collectors, the poor and weak, the misguided and despairing? What should we say to that? Is it a few, or many, who belong with Jesus? Jesus died on the cross alone, abandoned by his disciples. It was not two of his faithful followers who hung beside him, but two murderers. But they all stood beneath the cross: enemies and the faithful, doubters and the fearful, the scornful and the converted, and all of them and their sin were included in this hour in Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness. God’s merciful love lives in the midst of its foes. It is the same Jesus Christ who by grace calls us to follow him and whose grace saves the thief on the cross in his last hour.
Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.
Today it seems so difficult to walk with certainty the narrow path of the church’s decision and yet to remain wide open to Christ’s love for all people, and in God’s patience, mercy, and loving-kindness (Titus 3:4) for the weak and godless. Still, both must remain together, or else we will follow merely human paths. May God grant us joy in all seriousness of discipleship, affirmation of the sinners in all rejection of sin, and the overpowering and winning word of the gospel in all defense against our enemies. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts
(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com.
These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured
Email me at email@example.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.
My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship