Sinning Like a Christian Topic: Pride

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

March 16, 2014: Second Sunday in Lent

“Sinning Like a Christian”
Topic: Pride

Scripture         Luke 18:10-12; Philippians 2:5-8

We continue our series entitled “Sinning Like a Christian.”  It is based on a book with the same title written by William Willimon.  Today we will be focusing on pride.
Pride is a rather remarkable sin. It is the only one that has enjoyed such a positive transformation.  Management gurus declare, “There is no more important quality to cultivate among workers in a company than pride in their products.”  Our therapies are the relentless psychology of self-esteem. (1)
Bertrand Russell espouses that pride and genuine self-esteem would end conflict:
“I do not believe that any peacock envies another peacock his tail, because every peacock is persuaded that his own tail is the finest in the world. The consequence of this is that peacocks are peaceful birds” (2)
But then we have the Bible stories that deal with pride: it is Eve eating of the apple when she was told that it would make her to be like God; it is the people building the tower of Babel to reach the heavens so they could make a name for themselves.
Jesus told a story about a prideful man:
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 approaches the Lord in prayer. He   boasts about his own-self sufficiency.
Four times he mentions the word “I.”
Pride is when we start thinking of ourselves. When we think we are what is most important.
Pride is a slippery slope: “first pride—then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”   Proverbs 16:18  (The Message: Eugene Peterson)
It makes us think that we don’t need God. That the things we have accomplished or accumulated are due to our own power and abilities rather than God.
Pride exists in the church.
John Wesley and George Whitefield – the two great preachers of the 18th Century Evangelical Revival – were both great men of God.  Sadly, having been great friends at Oxford, they fell out over the Arminian/Calvinist debate.  Basically, the Calvinists say that God chooses us and the Arminians basically say that we are saved because we choose God – and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. There was quite a bit of animosity between their followers.  Once, one of Whitefield’s followers said to him:  “We won’t see John Wesley in the heaven, will we?”  To which Whitefield humbly replied “Yes, you’re right, we won’t see him in heaven. He will be so close to the Throne of God and we will be so far away, that we won’t be able to see him!”
What a lovely attitude Whitefield had. His humility was real.  It is the same humility Jesus demonstrated; Paul reminds us to follow his example:
Philippians 2:6-8: Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-
even death on a cross!
This is how we want to live – but do we?    When we talk about sin, the word “repent” is often connected. Repent means to turn around, to change your mind, to have the same attitude as Christ.
Will you bow your head? Pride is a slippery slope.  We often don’t know there’s a problem until we ask God to search us and reveal it to us:
How big is your ego?  Are you suffering from the “I” disease?  Or maybe you may be suffering from poor self-esteem and you need to allow God to let you know how precious you are? Whatever your situation, God knows and God will make it clear if we just take time to listen.
Silent reflection . . .

(1.) Sinning Like a Christian by William Willimon  (Abingdon Press 2013) p. 20
(2.) Bertrand Russell, as quoted in Harpers Book of Quotations, 3rd edition, ed. Robert I. Fitzhenry (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993), p. 372