The Killing Fields, Part 4--Pride

I John 2: 15-17 classifies sins into three main categories. " Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Most other translations render "vain glory of life" as the "pride of life."

We vary in our personal weaknesses to these three categories of temptation, and some are more susceptible to the lust of the flesh or the lust of the eye than to the pride of life. The pride of life has to do with arrogance, with vaunting oneself up (I Corinthians 13: 4), with insisting on oneself being first or preiminent, with having one's own way. A much more recent variant of "pride", probably a "West-Texanism," is not about that kind of pride. "Ah shore am proud of my cheeseburger" has more to do with satisfaction than with arrogance. One might be satisfied with a cheeseburger, but it is unlikely that he would be arrogant about it.

James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you." 1Peter 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." 1Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time;" Matthew 23:11 "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. Mat 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted."

The qualifications for elders include a provision that elders not be recent converts, lest they be caught up with pride, and fall into the snare of the devil (I Timothy 3: 6). There are a number of negative possibilities--a veritable killing field--for the elder who lets pride get to him:

Pride is not about being quiet. Moses was the meekest man alive in his time ( ) but he had to speak loudly enough for the people of Israel to hear. Jesus was not arrogant or prideful (Hebrews 4: 15, 16) but he threw out the money-changers and challenged the Hebrew establishment. He spoke loudly enough for the people at the mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7), the five thousand, and the four thousand could hear. Pride is not loudness and humility is not about quietness--at least not always.

Books that have been useful in preparing these lessons include:

Anderson, L. (1993). They smell like sheep. West Monroe, Louisiana: Howard Publishing.

Gangel, K. O. (1984). So you want to be a leader! Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications.

Grimsley, R. W. (1964). The Church and its elders. Abilene, Texas: Quality Printing Company.

Lewis, J. P. (1985). Leadership questions confronting the church. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate.

Lewis, J. P. (2008). The question of instrumental music in worship. Searcy, AR: Truth for Today World Mission School.

Sanders, J. O. (1989). Spiritual leadership. Chicago, Ill: Moody Press.

Strauch, A. (1991). A study guide to biblical eldership: An urgent call to restore Biblical church leadership. Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth Publishers.

White, J., & Blue, K. (1985). Church discipline that heals: Putting costly love into action. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press.

Yeakley, F. R. jr. (1980). Church leadership and organization. Arvada, CO: Christian Communications.


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