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SHOULD WE “RETRADITION”?

Neal Pollard

The lead article in the fall 2009 edition of Reflections, a quarterly produced by the Yale Divinity School, is written by guest editor Martin B. Copenhaver.  It is entitled “Back To The Future: ‘Retraditioning’ in the Church Today.”  In it, Copenhaver writes of the huge upheaval going on within many “Reformed” or Protestant denominations.  Copenhaver contrasts mainline churches with both Emergent Churches, the darling and hip face of ultimate change in religion today, and Judaism–which is the ultimate anti-Emergent Church in philosophy and practice.  To summarize, Copenhaver says that churches are finding new life and vitality by doing more than just going back to their traditional roots.  They are going back to ancient faith practices, particularly those discovered in scripture.  He seems to indicate that as our culture has replaced Christ with secularism or hedonism as the foundation of society, churches have found new motivation not to simply assume that people believe in Christ or desire to be distinctive.

“Retraditioning,” a term Copenhaver borrows from Diana Butler Bass, is a movement “through which a congregation adopts, or reclaims, practices and understandings that have been part of the wider Christian tradition, but, for some reason, have been abandoned or diminished in importance” (4).  She has much more to say that would be fodder for a different article, but the Reflections article is all about the identity crisis so many in Christendom are facing in these changing times.  To be fair, many congregations within churches of Christ have been wrestling with an identity crisis, too.

But, while we should always be people ever open to more effective methods of fulfilling our God-given mission as His people in ways that are in harmony with scripture, we should never be a people wrestling with an identity crisis borne of having been faddish and preeminently desirous of being seen by the culture as relevant.  We do not have to revisit how often to take the Lord’s Supper, what basic form the sermon will take or the role of the Bible in it, whether or not women will lead in worship, what form church music will take, and the like.  Since all of this was settled in the New Testament 2000 years ago, our role as disciples of Christ is simply to read it, understand it, and do it.  This is true, whether culture accepts and appreciates us for it or not.  As a side benefit, we do not have to go back to the “drawing board” time and again, rewrite creed books or publish a new edition of a Church Manual.  We do not have to grab on to the next, new, and biggest religious trend.  Our never-ending work continues to be to restore New Testament Christianity in faith and practice, calling people to submit to Christ’s authority and shape their lives, individually and congregationally, by His Word!

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WINNIE PICKETT

Neal Pollard

She would interrupt the weekly devotion at Hill Nursing Home in York, Alabama, by crying out, “Can you help me find Winnie Pickett?  Help me, please!  Have you seen Winnie Pickett?”  This elderly woman, a resident of the nursing home, made such imploring cries.  What a sad face she had.  But, who was this Winnie Pickett for whom she searched?  A best friend now deceased?  A childhood friend?  A sister or mother?  One of the nurses was approached to help find the answer.  With compassion, she said, “She is Winnie Pickett.”

Why was she making such a request?  What a strange search, to be searching for one’s self.  Seemingly, Mrs. Pickett was not lucid.  But, even in her confused state, she sought what so many choose to ignore.  For whatever reason she “sought” herself, she illustrates an attitude that should live in each of our hearts.

SHE ILLUSTRATES THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-EXAMINATION. Paul urges, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you ”unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).  We should want to know where we stand before God (cf. Col. 1:10).  We should seek to know if we are walking worthy of the Christian vocation (Eph. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:12).  God had to ask a question of Adam that he should have asked of himself, when He inquired, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9).  The answer to this question, for all of us, is of infinite importance (Matt. 7:13-14).

SHE SHOWS THE CONCERN ONE SHOULD HAVE FOR SELF. Certainly, God must come first with us.  Concern for others preempts concern for self (Phil. 2:3-4).  Yet, Paul’s words ring with common sense when he writes, “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Eph. 5:29).  The command of both testaments to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Rom. 13:9; Jas. 2:8) presupposes that it is right and healthy to love one’s self.  If we have healthy self-respect, we will naturally love and respect everyone in our lives.

SHE SHOWS THE PROFOUND SADNESS OF BEING LOST. Her mournful cries are unforgettable.  At least in her mind, she was lost.  She did not seem to know where she was, and was afraid of where she was going.  From all indications, sweet Winnie was not a Christian.  How sad.  To witness the steady decline of a dear woman who was outside the fold of safety is helpless and agonizing.  But, every day there are healthy, vibrant men and women in the prime of their lives who look fine on the outside but who are spiritually dead within (cf. Rom. 6:23).  Though physical death may be years away, unless they obey the gospel they are eternally lost (Matt. 25:46).  There is no greater tragedy (Matt. 16:26)!

The remains of a woman was found on the hot sands of the Mojave Desert.  Her last words were preserved in a written note.  It read, “I am exhausted and I must have water!  I don not believe I can last much longer!”  The sad fact is that she died of thirst and exposure only two miles from Surprise Springs, an oasis that would have saved her life (Tan 1216).  Many lost people come in contact with Christians, who know the way to salvation and life.  They are that close to escaping eternal loss.  Will they die without the water of life?  Many are like Winnie Pickett, begging for someone to help them not be lost.  Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to these.


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JESUS’ MODEL BEHAVIOR

Neal Pollard

He is an example in handling persecution and suffering (1 Peter 2:21).  He was a role model who could always be trusted to follow (Acts 1:1; 10:38; 1 Cor. 11:1).  Did you know that a prophet over 700 years before His birth foretold of such exemplary behavior?  Isaiah 42:1-3 is about Jesus!  Matthew confirms it in Matthew 12:15-21, in the midst of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand (9-14) and one who suffered a variety of maladies, demon-possession, blindness, and muteness (22-23).  Certainly, Jesus was doing these miracles to verify His identity as God’s Son, but He also revealed much about the kind of attitudes are right for mankind to possess toward others.

Observe Jesus’ Conduct Toward The Sick (15-17).  This is actually seen throughout this chapter and, certainly, throughout all four gospels.  He healed all that came to Him (15).  He restored the man’s hand (13).  He healed the possessed man (22). He did what He could for them.  Now, His power infinitely outweighs our own, but we can and must minister to the sick (cf. Matt. 25:36).

Observe Jesus’ Conduct Toward The Outcast (18,21).  The Gentiles were certainly held beyond arms’ length by the Jews at the time Jesus walked the earth.  But, Jesus’ coming brought justice for them and gave them reason to have faith.  Ephesians 2:11-13 shows the sad condition of the Gentiles when Jesus came on the earthly scene.  As most of us are Gentiles by birth, we are grateful for His gracious outreach.  How do we treat those who society has little use for, the poor, the dependent, the chronically ill, and the like?  How do we treat the “abject” sinner, the one with the sordid past (and even present)?

Observe Jesus’ Conduct Toward Himself (19).  This is a remarkable, unique passage.  What does this verse depict, but the meek and gentle side of Jesus’ nature? Keep reading and you will see Jesus, the Master debater (24-37), far outshining the world’s best attorney.  Read the Master teacher in chapter 13, speaking so many things in practical, powerful parables. Read of His incredible miracles in chapter 14, His bold teaching in chapter 15.  Later in the book, He drives out the moneychangers with a whip and excoriates the Pharisees with the most condemning language of the New Testament. In the midst, God audibly declares Him His Son up on that mountain.  Yet, inclusive of His nature, was what Jesus declares of Himself:  “I am meek and lowly in heart” (11:29).  He was not one who drew attention to Himself.  He was no parader, vaunter, or promoter of self.  This Lion is also the Lamb.  His righteous anger was reserved for sinners and injustice.  His godly understanding of duty drove Him to teach and do good.  His humility caused Him to always project all glory to the Father!  In all of this, He is our example.

Observe Jesus’ Conduct Toward The Powerless (20). Briefly notice an extension of Jesus’ perfect self-control.  He showed compassion and assistance to those who could not help themselves.  What a demonstration of Christlikeness for us to help, do favors for, and reach out to those who are in no position to pay us back for the kindness.

The Pharisees so often acted to be seen of men.  By contrast, Jesus deflected undue attention from Himself as He busily served and honored the Father.  May we diligently work to follow His great example as we “dwell among men.”

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WHY STAY MARRIED?


Neal Pollard

Caitlin Flanagan, in the July 13, 2009, edition of TIME magazine wrote an article entitled, “Why Marriage Matters.”  She begins by saying, “Buffeted by affairs and ennui, the intact, two-parent family is under assault. What America needs to get over its commitment issues. (Hint: it isn’t love)” (45).  What was so fascinating about the article was that, whether sociologists, feminists, domestic policy-makers, or other experts, they all came to the groundbreaking conclusion that children are healthier, more successful, and more productive who come from intact, two-parent homes.  Flanagan kept returning to that conclusion, even as high profile cases of infidelity were offered to show how the guilty were selfishly putting their own ideals and needs about what their families truly needed.

While I believe that it is possible for a marriage to grow more romantic, satisfying, and enjoyable each and every day of one’s married life, such is a tangible benefit of the hard work and effort invested in marriage.  It is neither automatic nor an entitlement.  It is not to be “persevered” or patronized only so long as I am having a good time, get my way, or reap the “rewards” of it as I, subjectively, decide I should.  No doubt, God created marriage to provide companionship and suitable help (Gen. 2:18ff) and a legitimate sexual outlet (1 Cor. 7:1ff).  It is enriching and even thrilling to look back over years of partnership and see in one’s spouse the depth of intimacy built by shared time and experience.  God certainly depicts a loving, close relationship in marriage as the ideal toward which to be striven (Song of Solomon, Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).  However, first and last, marriage is a lifelong commitment, an ongoing fulfillment of a vow made to and before God Himself, and a relationship that can be severed with God’s approval only under extreme circumstances.

Flanagan had so much good to say about marital partners considering how vital their staying married means to raising well-adjusted, optimally-functioning children.  She hits the nail on the head regarding the deep-seeded, lasting negative effects of divorce upon families and, ultimately, society.  Yet, while it may only be a matter of semantics, I disagree with her premise.  Staying married is about love.  It is about knowing how to love, God’s way, and intentionally, intensely, and indefinitely, nurturing and growing that love in the marriage.  Love involves duty, but it is so much more than that.  It is an act of the will more than a flutter of the heart. Yet, its payoff for marriage gives a man and a woman a lifelong glimmer of light that burns brighter even as the lights of our own lives gradually dim.  Let us love our spouses with biblical love and watch the seismic effects for good upon the home, the church, and the culture!

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HOW DETERMINED ARE YOU?


Neal Pollard

I downloaded an entire album of his greatest hits, probably because he was my grandfather’s favorite musician and he and my son were born in the same town about a century apart. He only lived 36 years before succumbing to the effects of tuberculosis.  Yet, a good argument can be made that he was a prominent ancestor if not the father of country, bluegrass, blues, and even rock and roll music.  To enjoy such success in so short a lifetime, Jimmie Rodgers had to be a driven, motivated person.  Rodgers had organized two traveling shows by the age of 13, at which age he won an amateur talent contest.  He recorded 110 songs in six years, fighting through the effects of TB to the very end.  His determination to make a living from music was rewarded by awards, recognition, and tributes, though most were offered posthumously.  It was not accolades but adoration for the brand of music he created that drove him.

In Colossians 3:23, Paul says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”  Contextually, Paul is speaking to Gentile slaves serving in the Roman Empire in the first century.  Considering human nature, it would have been easy for these slaves to slack off or simply lack motivation to serve in such a debasing, hopeless existence.  In the NIGTC on Colossians, Dunn says,

The implication is that one of the chief dangers of the slave status

was a lack of personal motivation which made all work a drudgery

provided grudgingly, with lack of effort and always with a view to doing

as little as one could get away with. Such an attitude can be sustained

only at tremendous personal cost, with other aspects of the personality

“switched off,” withdrawn, or suppressed, or with a calculating motivation

fed by resentment and bitterness (255).

I cannot imagine having to live such a life, but in whatever circumstances of life I find myself there are some key thoughts from this passage about how I lead it.

BE DETERMINED, WHATEVER.  It does not matter how menial or tedious the task is.  Not every task in glamorous; many are pretty thankless.  Whether we are being watched or not, let us work with determination.

BE DETERMINED, WHOLEHEARTEDLY.  The word translated “heartily” is the Greek word for “soul,” and literally means “from the soul.”  One translation has “put your whole heart into it” (NEB).  Christians know what our purpose and our goal is, so we should make an all-out pursuit in every facet of our lives!  We are (or should be) 100 percent people, in our work, our relationships, our families, and the church.

BE DETERMINED, WHOEVER.  Some are a pleasure to serve.  They are appreciative and maybe even generous.  Others grumble, criticize, and ignore even thoughtful gestures and special touches. This cannot effect our output.  Whoever we are serving, we must work as though every bit of it is for the Lord. Try out that ethic and any task is more than bearable.  Ultimately, He gives the reward.

Give your best shot, whatever you are doing.  What awaits you is the ultimate recognition.  You will even find you love doing it, however difficult the people with whom or for whom you must work might be.  If slaves could do it and were expected to do it, what about us?  Be determined!

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Goodness Or Grace?

Neal Pollard

He was “a model student, very keen, very enthusiastic,” according to a former teacher, Michael Rimmer. “He was a very nice, friendly person. He was a person who did a lot of good things,” added a former classmate, Efemena Mokedi.  He is educated, wealthy, and cultured.  But, unless he changes, he is lost.

That last statement seems illogical to the average person.  What do you need more than a great personality, friendliness, and good deeds?  Most people say that if they are basically good, moral people, it will be enough to get them to heaven.

Isaiah declared that man’s righteousness is like filthy rags (64:6).  Paul wrote, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).  Do you see what Paul makes essential to eternal life? God’s mercy.  God’s grace.  God’s Spirit.  God’s Son. God’s plan.  That does not negate obedience (see Titus 2:11-14), but it shows us that whatever goodness we have to commend us is insufficient.  Our standards are inaccurate and incomplete.

Still unconvinced? Guess who is described in the first paragraph.  His name is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  He is now better known to many as “The Christmas Day Terrorist,” the man who came so close to blowing up Northwest Flight 253 as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam.  He does not claim Jesus as Lord (John 14:6).  He does not recognize the God of the Bible (2 Thess. 1:7-9).  Abdulmutallab is simply an extreme example that should cause us to reexamine the notion that I can get to heaven by being a basically good person.  Not one person will be in heaven who have not had the blood of Christ applied to their sins (Rev. 1:5; Eph. 1:7).

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WHAT MOVES YOU?

Neal Pollard

Sunrises and sunsets? Beautiful music? The face of a little child? Emotion from one from whom you would not expect it? Witnessing acts of charity and kindness?  Something moves you.  It motivates you.  Preachers, employers, leaders, and others try to tap into what moves people to produce the desired response.  So do spouses and parents.

I find it interesting that Paul said that bonds and afflictions did not move him (Acts 20:24).  The psalmist says the blessed and righteous man would not be moved by opposition and trouble (Psa. 16:8).  The idea conveyed in scripture is a difference between being moved–troubled, distressed, and disturbed–by lack of faith and courage and being moved by the things that ought to touch, stir, and break the heart.

The cross ought to move us.  The love of God ought to move us.  Grace ought to move.  Fear of judgment and hell ought to move us.  Thoughts of the joy and bliss of heaven ought to move us.  The brotherly kindness of others, either shown to us or to another, ought to move us.  The tearful repentance of another ought to move us. Singing praise to God ought to move us. Others’ grief ought to move us. One’s decision to become a Christian ought to move us.  Proof of God in nature ought to move us.

Isn’t it interesting that God has placed within us a chord that can be struck by deep, spiritual things?  It is disturbing to think that some are not or no longer moved by the things just mentioned.  Some are moved to tears by puppy dogs and sentimental movies but unmoved by Calvary and God’s free gift.  May we be a people whose hearts are reached by the powerful gospel and the God it reveals!

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WHY BEAR VALLEY IS A LOVING CHURCH

Neal Pollard

A church that has been around for nearly fifty years accumulates a lot of history and experiences.  In that span of time, no doubt a few will have asserted that the Bear Valley church of Christ has not always been as warm and friendly as they should.  In fact, that charge has been leveled at probably every church by someone at one time or another.  Because of the strong doctrinal stand of this congregation over the decades, some have accused us of being unloving.  Yet, after three and a half years serving as your preacher, I have to say that I have never known a more loving church.  I make this claim based on three biblical truths.

You Are A Loving Church Because Of Your Giving. In recent weeks, both elders and missions committee members have repeated the same thing.  This church’s generosity is unbounded.  The elders presented an ambitious increase in the weekly budget and you have exceeded it.  The missions committee proposed an astronomical figure on Missions Sunday and you met it!  The end of year freewill contribution to our missionaries was the largest in history.  This has come despite a financial crisis unknown in our times, with many of our own having been laid off and out of a job.  How does one explain this?  As with the churches of Macedonia, your liberal giving is proof of your love (cf. 2 Cor. 8:24).

You Are A Loving Church Because Of Your Deeds. On almost a daily basis, I hear of your benevolent acts toward the needy, your inviting neighbors and co-workers to church services or otherwise sharing the gospel, or some deed of kindness you have done for another member.  The visits, the rides to doctor appointments, the calls, the cards, and other tangible actions testify of your love.  I literally do not dare to try and list specifics, as you overflow with such deeds.  Truly, as John said, this is love.  He urged, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).  Your tongue is often filled with loving words, but you back it up with your deeds.

You Are A Loving Church Because Of Your Support Of Gospel Preaching.  It is true that the clearest, largest example of this is your commitment to the school of preaching that is 44 years in duration and continuing.  You have send sound, caring men into the fields for over four decades and heaven will be populated with people taught by our graduates.  You are doing the same with the work of the extension program.  But, as a preacher, I know your love firsthand.  Not every sermon I preach is feel-good and positive.  I have to preach difficult topics, those unpopular even among some claiming to be members of the Lord’s church.  You are kind and complimentary of even such sermons.  You have made our family feel so much a part of this church family.  I am grateful and do not even have to ask why.  I know why.  You are a loving church (cf. 3 John 5-8).

It is a daily pleasure to preach for a loving church.  As we face the challenges, trials, and opportunities of tomorrow, may we resolve to grow more loving each day.  If we are always motivated to love God truly and first of all, we will be known far and wide as “that loving church.”


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MARKS OF A GREAT PHYSICIAN

Neal Pollard

The healthcare debate is still raging, with a vote expected to pass at least an expanded, tax-funded version of what we now have. To whatever extent tax subsidized abortion is part of the new plan, it is at odds with scripture.  God hates the shedding of innocent blood and any individual or nation that engages in what He calls abomination does so to their own ruin (cf. Prov. 6:17; 14:34).  The ancient Hippocratic Oath (usually dated around 400 B.C.), as quoted at PBS.org, includes these words from Hippocrates of Cos, ancient Greek physician, includes these words:  “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”  While modern medical school graduates are not required to pledge to uphold the ancient version, the assumption made by all patients is that doctors and nurses work to save rather than destroy life.  We should pray but also take every peaceful, law-abiding action we can to oppose any dangerous, national step away from our Creator and Redeemer.

About 200 years prior to Hippocrates’ work, the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the ultimate physician.  Jeremiah’s peers seriously needed His intervention, but they steadfastly rejected it.  In Jeremiah 8:22, the weeping prophet implies three invaluable traits of a great physician.

A great physician knows how to properly medicate.  Jeremiah implies that the “balm” was present. Exell shares an interesting insight about this substance.  He says,

There (in the rocky region of Gilead, NP) the fragrant, resinous gum,

possessed of such famous healing properties, was to be found–found,

however, not by the casual, unobservant traveller who happened to pass

by that way, but by the man who clambered up the rocks, scaled the heights,

diligently searched among the precious, storm-stunted shrubs, yielding

the healing gum” (Vol. 9, 219).

So, this was a physician who knew what would help and was willing to engage in the painstaking process of administering the cure.  God knows what is best for us, spiritually, and He provides the cure for the soul.  At Calvary, He provided the only answer to an eternally serious problem.  We can trust His diagnosis for our condition!

A great physician is present.  Jeremiah’s rhetorical question, “Is there no physician there?,” demands an affirmative answer.  Judah’s problem was not lack of God’s presence.  They refused to “go to the Doctor.”  Mayo Clinic or M.D. Anderson have some of the best physicians in the country, but they cannot save the patients who do not come to them for help. One never has to wonder if the Great Physician is “in,” for He always is (Heb. 7:25).

A great physician helps the patient recover.  Judah’s failure to recover was not because God was incapable of effecting the cure.  Again, Jeremiah asks the rhetorical question of why there was no recovery of Judah’s spiritual health.  It was the sin and shortcoming of the patient, not the physician.  So it is with us.  Whatever your spiritual ailment, He is able to save you!  However seemingly fatal, it is curable!

Our hearts break at the 27-year practice of legalized abortion in this country.  Wherever medical ethics breach spiritual ethics, God will bring about consequences for such.  Yet, whenever and wherever we live, we must urgently get the word out about the Great Physician.  It is such great news that He is perfectly knowledgeable, ever-present, and limitlessly able.  He offers free check ups, if we will meet Him in scripture.

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RECOGNIZING PRIDE

Neal Pollard

The Bible could not be clearer about God’s attitude toward both the proud and the humble. He plainly regards pride as synonymous with wickedness. The wicked “speak arrogantly” (Ps. 94:4). The one with a perverse heart “has a haughty look and an arrogant heart” (Ps. 101:5). The proud treat others wrongfully (Ps. 119:78). But, when you imagine a proud person, do not think of a wino in a back alley, smoking crack, cursing, and indulging in every sort of immorality. More often, he looks like the Pharisee in the temple thanking God that he’s not like that guy (Lk. 18:10-14). He could be the “older brother” of Luke 15, not obviously immoral or riotous or wasteful or overtly disobedient. He may go to church with us. He may even be us. How can we tell when we see him or her? Here are three questions to ask:

CAN I BE TAUGHT?

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor comes humility” (Pr. 15:33). With these words, the Bible connects honor and humility but does so concerning the subject of instruction. Contrast this with Jeremiah’s audience, of whom it was said, “But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction” (17:23). All of us play the role of students in multiple relationships. Do we think we know more than our teachers? Do we feel like they cannot tell us anything we do not know or show us a way better than we are already doing it? Do we regard such teachers with contempt, looking down on them and even slandering them? Behind such folly is unteachable pride.

CAN I BE CORRECTED?

Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 15:5 calls this same person “a fool.” A proud heart leads one to bristle and rebel when another attempts to correct him or her. Correction is to be given with humility (2 Tim. 2:25) but mustn’t it also be received that way? If not, why not? We are to show all humility to all men (Ti. 3:2), being clothed with humility (1 Pet. 5:5). That is most stiffly tested when we face the correction of another, whether parents, elders, a spouse, a friend, a teacher, an employer, or whoever may be in a position to have to suggest a course of correction for us.

DO I SEEK GOD?

David describes the wicked in a number of unflattering ways in the 10th Psalm, then adds, “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (4). Few of us, if asked, would say that was true of us. We want to be thought of as those who seek God and think about God. Yet, if we are self-centered and full of self, there is no place in our hearts for divine guidance. If I am proud, I do not stop to think about what God thinks of my words before I speak them. I just blurt them out. If I am proud, I do not consider what His Word says before I act. I just do it. Obnoxious, selfish, and proud behavior is not the mark of one seeking God. It is of one seeking self. The Holy Spirit calls us to use the mirror of scripture to honestly answer this question. Through James, He says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is fist pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Js. 3:16-18). Therein is the litmus test determining pride and humility.

This is a serious matter, deserving full attention. Pride drives a wedge in one’s relationship with God (Ps. 138:6). Pride causes friction between one and God (Pr. 3:34). Perhaps no statement makes self-examination on this matter more urgent than Proverbs 8:13, where God simply says, “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” Lord, let us be a humble people!