Faith Church

WWJU? Spiritual Pride – David Carter | Sermon from 5/19/2019

We’re in week 4 of our series called What Would Jesus Undo and we’ve been talking about pretty significant things that we may be seeing in our lives under the surface that Jesus wants to undo…  My guess is that for some weeks, the content has really hit home for you… I want to encourage you to do something about that… as followers of Jesus, when Jesus stirs something in us, we want to leverage that and do something to respond to it.  James 1:22 says “Don’t just be hearers of the word and so deceive yourselves… be doers of the word.”   I want to remind you that every week in the bulletin we offer next steps that provide a few things you might want to do in order to respond to the sermon… to live it out in your life.

But the reality is that some of the other weeks you were probably like, yeah I don’t struggle with that…  like, maybe hypocrisy.  Maybe you live a pretty consistent life, and as we were talking about hypocrisy last week you were thinking about your family member… or your spouse who should’ve really heard that sermon because they’re the biggest hypocrite you know!  Thank God you’re not like them right!  Your faith is way stronger and way better than that sinner!

Or maybe when Andy was talking about spiritual indifference you were thinking, wow… that’s not me at all.  I’m on fire for the Lord!  I love coming to church and reading my Bible and giving to God’s purposes in the world… Frankly, I can’t stand those sinners who feel indifferent towards God… I mean come on… don’t they even care?  Thank God I’m not like them!  I’m awesome!

Well today we’re talking about pride… so buckle up.

I want to play out a scenario that probably happens on a monthly basis in my marriage.  I say I’m going to do something… Bethany comments with a question, comment, or some concern… I tell her I know what I’m doing… and then I do the thing.

Case in point.  We’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel at our house, and it’s gonna be pretty extensive.  We’re ripping the walls down to the studs, we’re ripping out all the flooring, we’re moving the toilet and sink… it’s no joke.

And Tuesday evening of THIS week I got an urge to get started on this project.  I have some anxiety about what’s behind the wall… I have some anxiety about the condition of the sub floor.  And I need to get the wall and the floor out before the plumber comes in mid-june.

So I got this urge to start some of the demo and so I said, Bethany, I think I’m gonna start ripping out the linoleum.  And she said… I think you should call my brother and ask if that’s a good idea… and so I texted him… but he didn’t text me back within 5 minutes, so I just started cutting a little bit… and as I was cutting he called me back and said, “yeah, don’t do the floor this early.

And I had to go back to Bethany and say, “you were right, I was wrong. Sorry.”

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

We’ve all done that at some point, we’ve all been there, but pride leads to a fall, and Jesus wants to help undo spiritual pride in our lives so that we can avoid the fall that comes with it.

There’s a great parable that Jesus tells that paints a picture of what a spiritually proud person looks like.  He tells of two men who are standing at the temple praying out loud.  One of the men was a Pharisee and the other was a Tax Collector.

Now to us…  every time we hear about the Pharisees, we think bad dude.  But we should remember that to the Jewish people, the Pharisees were well known, respected, religious people who were zealous for the law of God.  They were known for their spirituality among other Jewish people.

And the Tax Collectors were the opposite.  They were despised.  They worked for the Romans who were occupying their land and so they were profiting off of their own people while supporting the work of their occupiers.  They were seen as 16th equivalent of a corrupt politician or the mafia or a drug dealer.

So to many of the original audience, the match-up between a Pharisee and a tax collector seems like an obvious victory… it looks like a Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader match up…  or roadrunner and coyote…  Or Chuck Norris and anybody else.

And here’s what we see…

Luke 18:10-12 – 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

The Pharisee let’s out this prayer for everyone to hear, and he essentially says to God, “I follow all the rules!  I do all the right things and then some!  I am better than everyone around me!  Thank God I’m not like these others!

And the Pharisee wasn’t completely wrong, right?  He had a lot to be proud of in his life.  If I look back on my life, and I compare myself now to the person I was in high school… or in college… or even more recently, I can see clearly that God has been working in me and transforming me into the man he wants me to be.  And acknowledging that in itself isn’t a bad thing.

When I was in college and high school and even in my early 20s I didn’t really have a good handle on how to deal with anger.  And this week with my bathroom remodel… I was ripping out some of the drywall… and I was amazed at how hard it was to get the drywall down… it’s strong stuff… and I thought to myself, no wonder I never punched through it when I was angry… And then I started thinking about how reacting physically in anger isn’t really part of my life anymore.  I mean, I get angry sometimes, but I can’t remember the last time I hit something out of anger.  And I realized… wow, God is transforming me into his image.  And I was immediately thankful.

And the Pharisee was commenting on things he was glad about in his life… he said he was glad that he prayed more than was required of him, he gave more than was required of him, and he fasted more than was required of him.  Wow!  That’s really good.  And I hope that we’re able to celebrate the change we see in our lives when we look back at who we used to be…

But here’s the difference… the Pharisee in this parable saw his life and his spiritual acts and instead of realizing that what he had was a gift FROM God… something God had done in his life… he saw himself as a gift TO God.  Something he did on his own.

You can see it in the content of his prayer… he says, “Thank you God that I am not like the others…”  And then he goes on to list his accomplishments.  In other words, he’s giving a testimonial to God about himself instead of declaring that his life is a testimonial of the grace and goodness and transformative power of God.

Now, we’ve been ripping apart the Pharisees for the last few weeks, but I hope you’ve been able to see that Pharisaical tendencies can creep up in our lives and we need to be aware of them.

For us, spiritual pride probably isn’t showing its face by us coming to church and standing out front to pray for everyone to hear.  But spiritual pride may be showing itself in our lives today by things like fault finding.

Fault-Finding – In Jesus’ parable, the Pharisee lumped everyone who had some obvious mistakes into one big category of “other.”  Thieves, evildoers, adulterers, and tax collectors.  All sinners.  Spiritually pride people see someone’s mistakes… or their brokenness… and they have a difficult time seeing anything beyond that.  They certainly can’t believe that there’s any goodness in their lives… they’re just not as good as them and people like them… they’re “other.”  Thank God we’re not sinners like them.

The spiritually proud have x-ray vision to see someone’s mistakes.

Harsh Spirit – And when they see someone with faults in their lives… and they will cause we all have them… a spiritually proud person doesn’t just see it and move on, they have a Harsh Spirit towards the person.  Other people’s mistakes and other people’s struggles become irritating and inconvenient to the spiritually proud.

Spiritual pride belittles the struggles of other people.  It sees the struggle and says, “they just need to get over it.”  “They just need to make better decisions.”  “Well, maybe if they better prioritized their time then they wouldn’t have to miss church so much.”  “Well, I can tell you why they’re losing their car, it was that fancy vacation they just went on.  They need to learn how to better manage their money.”

The spiritually proud have no tolerance of people’s struggles.  They’re harsh and critical towards them.

Defensiveness – And if you see any inconsistency in a spiritually proud person’s life… or something in their lives that’s not God honoring… and if you point it out in a loving way… a spiritually proud person becomes defensive.

They’ll have an excuse for why it wasn’t a big deal because of extenuating circumstances… or they’ll justify their behavior and say you’re misunderstanding… or they’ll disregard your comment by finding fault in your life.  But they certainly don’t look inwardly and discern if what you said was true.

Spiritually proud people get defensive when someone points out something in their lives that doesn’t honor God.

//The way spiritual pride manifests itself makes sense when we understand that spiritual pride is born from the perspective that I’ve pulled myself up by my own bootstraps without help from anyone else, and thanks to me, I’m living a great Christian life.  Or God loves me because of how great of a person I am!  Or I am better because I figured it out… the fact that you didn’t is because you don’t try hard enough… you’re not as good as me.

What Would Jesus Undo?  Spiritual Pride.  Because spiritual pride is being full of ourselves, and when we’re full of ourselves, there’s no room for God.

But God offers us another way, and it’s the way of the tax collector.

Luke 18:10-12 – 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Luke 18:13-14 – 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus says that the tax collector walked away justified before God, but the Pharisee didn’t.  So what did the tax collector do right?

PULL UP v. 11-12 on the top of the screen and v. 13 at the bottom.

Both men were standing apart from other people.  The Pharisee stood by himself in order to separate himself from the “others” who were sinful cause he saw himself as completely unlike them.  The tax collector stood off at a distance by himself… because he recognized his sinfulness in light of the power and holiness of God.  The Pharisee was proud of himself and gave God a list of things he did well.  The Tax collector approached God and asked him for something he knew he couldn’t get on his own merit…  mercy and reconciliation.

The Pharisee was full of himself, the tax collector emptied himself.

The Pharisee exalted himself and the tax collector humbled himself.

And we can empty ourselves and have a humble heart developed in us.By doing one simple thing.

In every decision we make… in every emotion we have… in every fear, insecurity… we simply ask ourselves… “Is this about my glory, or is this about God’s glory.”

Am I trying to make me famous?  Or am I trying to make God famous?

While spiritual pride may result in us finding faults in everyone else and being harsh about the faults that we find, humility causes us to see someone else’s mistakes and instead of becoming angry or irritated, our hearts begin to break.  A humble heart sees a Christian brother or sister struggling and prays for them… and a humble heart believes in the promise that God is still doing a work in them… just like he’s done in us and just like he’s still doing in us… and yeah they’re not perfect, but they are growing.  And just like they’re not perfect, neither am I.  I’ve come a long way… but I still need God’s grace.  I am only this far because of God’s grace… I didn’t do this on my own.

I saw a simple version of humility this week when my brother in law called and told me to stop ripping up the linoleum… he was so gracious.  He knew it was a bad call… he knew I jumped the gun… he knew I rushed it… but he also knew I’m not very far in my home remodeling career.  And so instead of getting frustrated and saying, “what’s wrong with you? Why wouldn’t you ask me first.”  He just said, “yeah… probably better not to.  If you can, just lay it back down.”

A humble heart begins by understanding that we didn’t get here on our own and we didn’t get here overnight.  We had circumstances, good and bad, that God used to draw us closer to him.  Thank you, Jesus.  Some of us had parents that lived out their faith and pursued a relationship with God that we were able to see, and we followed their example and have found life in Christ.

Some of us had parents who didn’t know God, but we had a friend that shared their faith with us and invited us to come for the first time.

Some of us have faced difficult life circumstances… real pain and hardship… and in our struggle we clung to God and he was our rock… he carried us through and got us up out of the mud and helped move us to restoration.

When we know that God was the one pursuing us… and that we didn’t get to where we are today overnight or by our own righteousness… but that God’s been in a process of transforming us into his image even when we were too thick headed to see it…

Paul says it like this in Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

If we take all the credit, we see change in our lives and we shout out from the mountain tops about how great we are.  But when we know that our salvation is a gift from God through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross… we give credit where credit is due, and we shout out from our hearts, “Thank you Lord!  I wouldn’t be the Father, Husband, Believer I am today if it wasn’t for you.  I wouldn’t have overcome my pain… I wouldn’t have made it through my struggle… If it wasn’t for you, I would’ve given up a long time ago.  Thank you Lord!”

We might be tempted to think that pride is packing yourself on the back and humility is beating yourself up.  But humility doesn’t end with us beating ourselves up, it ends in us falling on our knees before God in gratitude.

Pride is all about my glory. Humility is all about God’s glory.

And so my invitation for each one of us today is to evaluate our hearts… In every decision we make… in every emotion we have… in every fear, insecurity… we simply ask ourselves… “Is this about my glory, or is this about God’s glory.”

And I believe the more our lives give glory to God, the more we give God credit… the more God will shape our hearts and help us grow in humility.


Next Steps

What Would Jesus UNDo? – Spiritual Pride

Read Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector: Luke 18:9-14.

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  Based on the sermon, what is one thing you want to do to grow in your relationship with God, the Church, or the World?  Here are three ideas:

Relationship with God

Living our lives directed by the Bible is part of a healthy relationship with God.

Commit to memory Ephesians 2:8-9 and pray that God develops in you a humble heart.

Relationship with the Church

Interacting with the people of God in a way that’s rooted in love is part of a healthy relationship with the Church.

As you encounter the struggles of folks in the church or your family (social media/small groups), observe whether you are feeling grace or judgment.  How does God view your mistakes?

Relationship with the World

Preparing your heart to interact with others about Jesus is one part of a healthy relationship with the world.

Read Luke 15:1-7.  How does the shepherd respond to one sheep that is lost?  What does this tell us about God’s love and grace for those who are not churched, yet?  When given the opportunity, go above and beyond to show love to someone outside the church or your family.

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