Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘pride’

When We Are Successful, It Could Spell “DANGER!”

SOURCE:  J.C. Ryle/Tolle Lege

“Lord, clothe us with humility” by J.C. Ryle

[Regarding Luke 10:17-20]

“We learn, from this passage, how ready Christians are to be puffed up with success. It is written, that the seventy returned from their first mission with joy, ‘saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.’

There was much false fire in that joy. There was evidently self-satisfaction in that report of achievements. The whole tenor of the passage leads us to this conclusion.

The remarkable expression which our Lord uses about Satan’s fall from heaven, was most probably meant to be a caution. He read the hearts of the young and inexperienced soldiers before Him.

He saw how much they were lifted up by their first victory. He wisely checks them in their undue exultation. He warns them against pride.

The lesson is one which all who work for Christ should mark and remember. Success is what all faithful laborers in the Gospel field desire.

The minister at home and the missionary abroad, the district visitor and the city missionary, the tract distributor and the Sunday-school teacher, all alike long for success. All long to see Satan’s kingdom pulled down, and souls converted to God.

We cannot wonder. The desire is right and good. Let it, however, never be forgotten, that the time of success is a time of danger to the Christian’s soul. The very hearts that are depressed when all things seem against them are often unduly exalted in the day of prosperity.

Few men are like Samson, and can kill a lion without telling others of it. (Judges 14:6.) No wonder that St. Paul says of a bishop, that he ought not to be ‘a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.’ (1 Tim. 3:6.)

Most of Christ’s laborers probably have as much success as their souls can bear. Let us pray much for humility, and especially for humility in our days of peace and success.

When everything around us seems to prosper, and all our plans work well,—when family trials and sicknesses are kept from us, and the course of our worldly affairs runs smooth,—when our daily crosses are light, and all within and without like a morning without clouds,—then, then is the time when our souls are in danger!

Then is the time when we have need to be doubly watchful over our own hearts. Then is the time when seeds of evil are sown within us by the devil, which may one day astound us by their growth and strength.

There are few Christians who can carry a full cup with a steady hand. There are few whose souls prosper in their days of uninterrupted success.

We are all inclined to sacrifice to our net, and burn incense to our own drag. (Hab. 1:16.) We are ready to think that our own might and our own wisdom have procured us the victory.

The caution of the passage before us ought never to be forgotten. In the midst of our triumphs, let us cry earnestly, ‘Lord, clothe us with humility.’”

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–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 358-360. Ryle is commenting on Luke 10:17-20.

Handling Conflict – The End Result: My Will or Thy Will?

SOURCE: Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Conflict – such a powerful word … it conjures up many different feelings and tapes in our heads, doesn’t it?

[In the below] scripture, Paul exhorts believers to agree with one another, to love each other, and to work together with one mind and purpose. The attitude and action plan Paul proposes is in opposition to the message about conflict I picked up at home and what was expressed and modeled in the culture as I grew up.

Jesus’ last instructions, moments before he ascended to heaven leave no doubt about what the church is to be doing: “And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

If we are to be effective witnesses as Christians, we need to work together with one mind and purpose – the mind of Christ. Our witness can be hurt … and even destroyed … if we are consumed by pride and self-centeredness as evidenced by bickering, gossip, stinginess, revenge, lack of forgiveness, and other habits that only lead to strife and division. We need to set aside personality conflicts, social differences, cliquishness, and everything else that divides us and keeps us from accomplishing the purposes God has for us and for those to whom we minister on His behalf.

Conflict is obviously more complex than this. I could never provide an all-inclusive analysis and strategy for handling conflict in one page. The key principle that determines and steers the whole conflict management process is adopting an attitude that says “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” not “my kingdom come, my will be done.” The former builds a rock solid foundation to continue the conflict management process; the latter forms a shaky and treacherous foundation of sand that promises harm and catastrophe for all involved. The type of foundation you choose steers the process to a fleshly demise or a God-glorifying, life-growing experience.

Many excuses allow us to cringe and avoid working through conflict with another person. Don’t fall into the laziness trap. We all have an addiction to or a need for comfort in the face of difficult but important decisions. In the end, avoiding the conflict will be more harmful to you than the temporary uneasiness you’ll feel while trying to address and solve the conflict. Just think of your reality this way: all of your rewarding relationships took big steps forward when you were able to navigate conflicts with those other people. The collaboration, trust, forgiveness, and identification of a shared goal were monumental rewards that began in that conflict.

Today, think of an area in your life in which you are experiencing division with a sister or brother in Christ. Are you putting Christ in the center? My kingdom or Thy kingdom? What are you choosing and why? Your greatest need should be to please God and honor Him, not ease your own discomfort, guilt, or ego. Specifically acknowledge an incident or situation in which you have failed the relationship. Prayerfully examine how pride might be playing a role in the division. Addressing conflict with a rock solid foundation is your decision, so choose well.

My Father and my Lord, Please forgive me for sometimes allowing pride or other wrongful attitudes to lead to division with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to do my part to walk in unity so that I am an effective witness for Jesus, accomplishing what You have called me to do. Help me build courage to withstand the pain, hurt, or anger I sometimes feel in conflicts. I know You can provide more to me in that pain than in the “comfortable” times when I avoid conflict. Help me see conflict ahead of time so I can respond well and address it early if possible to avoid hurting others. I pray this and all prayers in the name of Your perfect witness, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!

The Truth

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 

Philippians 2:2

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

James 1:2-4

Beware the Peril that Lurks in Success

SOURCE:  Jon Bloom/Desiring God

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  (2 Samuel 11:2)

We are never more vulnerable to sin than when we are successful, admired by others, and prosperous, as King David tragically discovered. Imagine him reflecting on his adultery a year later.

It was spring again. David once had loved warm, fragrant spring afternoons on the palace roof. But this year the scent of almond blossoms smelled like deep regret.

David had no desire to look toward Uriah’s empty house. If only he had not looked that way a year ago. The memory throbbed with pain. His conscience had warned him to stop watching Bathsheba. But in his desire-induced inertia it had felt like he couldn’t pull himself away.

What pathetic self-deception! Couldn’t pull himself away. He would never have tolerated such a weak excuse in another man. If Nathan had unexpectedly shown up while he was leering would he have pulled himself away? O yes! Wouldn’t have risked his precious reputation!

But there on the roof alone, he had lingered. And in those minutes, sinful indulgence metastasized into a wicked, ultimately lethal plan.

David wept. His sovereign, lustful selfishness had stripped a married woman of her honor, murdered her loyal, valiant husband, and killed his own innocent baby boy. Bathsheba was now left with a desolate, hollow sadness.

And he shuddered at the Lord’s dark promise: “The sword will never depart from your house”(2 Samuel 12:10). The destruction had not run its full course.

How had he come to this?

David thought back to those harrowing years when Saul chased him around Horesh. How often had he felt desperate? Daily he had depended on God for survival. He had longed for escape and peace in those days. Now he viewed them as among the best of his life.

And then came the tumultuous, heady years of uniting Judah and Israel under his kingship and subduing their enemies. And it had all climaxed with God’s almost unbelievable promise to establish David’s throne forever.

Had a man ever been so blessed by God? Every promise to him had been kept. Everything David touched had flourished. Never had Israel as a nation been so spiritually alive, so politically stable, so wealthy, so militarily powerful.

And at the peak of this unprecedented prosperity, David had committed such heinous sin. Why? How could he have resisted so many temptations in dangerous, difficult days and then yield at the height of success?

Almost as soon as the question formed in his mind he knew the answer. Pride. Monstrous, self-obsessed pride.

Honored by his God, a hero to his people, a terror to his enemies, surrounded by fawning assistants and overflowing affluence, the poisonous weed of self-worship had grown insidiously in David’s heart. The lowly shepherd that God had plucked by sheer grace from Bethlehem’s hills to serve as king had been eclipsed in his own mind by David the Great, the savior of Israel — a man whose exalted status entitled him to special privileges.

David cupped his face in his hands as his shame washed over him again. Bathsheba’s body had been nothing more than a special privilege he had decided to bestow on himself. And in so doing he had placed himself above God, his office, his nation, Uriah’s honor and life, Bathsheba’s welfare — everything. David had sacrificed everything to the idol of himself.

David fell on his face and wept again. And he poured out his broken, contrite heart to God.

But profound hope was woven into the deep remorse David felt. Knowing he deserved death, David marveled at and worshiped God for the unfathomable depths of mercy in the words, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). It took his breath away. This word had come before a single sacrifice had been offered.

This was love that surpassed knowledge. Something miraculous was at work here, something much more powerful than horrific sin. David wasn’t quite sure how it worked. What he did know is that he wanted other transgressors to know the amazingly gracious ways of God.

The greatest enemy of our souls is the pathologically selfish pride at the core of our fallen natures. If we look deep enough, this is what we will find feeding the strong, sinful cravings of our appetites.

And this is why prosperity can be so spiritually dangerous. We tend to see our need for God more clearly in adversity. But seasons of success can be our most perilous because we are so easily deceived into thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Self-exalting pride is what leads us to usurp God’s rightful rule.

We must beware this danger that lurks in blessings.

And when we sin, we must run to and not avoid the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). On this side of the cross we now know fully what David didn’t: God put away our sin by placing them on himself.

Only at the cross will we hear, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” Ever.

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Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994.

What Questions Should I Be Asking God?

SOURCE:  John Eldredge

Most of Us Have Been Misinterpreting Life

Most of us have been misinterpreting life and what God is doing for a long time.

“I think I’m just trying to get God to make my life work easier,” a client of mine confessed, but he could have been speaking for most of us.

We’re asking the wrong questions.

Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God, why won’t you just ________” (fill in the blank-help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage-you know what you’ve been whining about).

But to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions: What are you trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this? What is it you want me to see? What are you asking me to let go of ? In truth, God has been trying to initiate you for a long time. What is in the way is how you’ve mishandled your wound and the life you’ve constructed as a result.

“Men are taught over and over when they are boys that a wound that hurts is shameful,” notes Robert Bly in Iron John. Like a man who’s broken his leg in a marathon, he finishes the race even if he has to crawl and he doesn’t say a word about it. A man’s not supposed to get hurt; he’s certainly not supposed to let it really matter. We’ve seen too many movies where the good guy takes an arrow, just breaks it off, and keeps on fighting; or maybe he gets shot but is still able to leap across a canyon and get the bad guys. And so most men minimize their wound. King David (a guy who’s hardly a pushover) didn’t act like that at all. “I am poor and needy,” he confessed openly, “and my heart is wounded within me” (Ps. 109:22).

Or perhaps they’ll admit it happened, but deny it was a wound because they deserved it. Suck it up, as the saying goes. The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it.

(Wild at Heart , 104-6)

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