Monday, April 3, 2017

SS: Proverbs lesson: Pride or Humility

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment[c] to your bones.

1. Two Paths: Pride and Humility

First, what does it say not to do?  Do not lean on your own understanding.  Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Don’t follow your heart or rely on your own smarts.  Your trust should be outside of yourself.  And there is a wonderful promise for those who turn away from themselves and turn toward the Lord: It will bring healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  You will have a peace within yourself.

Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Pride – arrogance, conceit, an overly high sense of one’s own value.
Disgrace – loss of respect, honor or esteem.
Humble – to lower in condition, importance, or dignity.  Or, it can mean a lower sense of one’s own value. 

2. Example from another Saul

Let’s study a man named Saul.  Not the king from last week, but someone in the New Testament.  We can read his story in Acts 9:1-19.  When I read this story, if I read the name “Saul”, I want us to go, “rawr!”.  When I say, “Light from heaven,” I want us to sing, “aahh”, like we’re angels.  When I say, “Ananias,” I want us to hold our hands like we’re praying.  When I say, “Scales fell from his eyes,” I want us to wipe our eyes.

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.
First, Saul’s pride was the reason some new Christians were arrested or even killed.  He thought he knew everything and that God approved of his actions.  He was raise a Jewish man and raised to follow every rule.  And when Jesus came and threatened the Jewish way of life, he thought he did the right thing by opposing him and his followers.

But then, Jesus had enough.  He stopped Saul on his way to Damascus and made him blind for a time.  God’s Spirit led him to Ananias who prayed for him.  Scales fell from Saul’s eyes and then he learned under the Apostles for a time.  He changed his name to Paul, brought the non-Jewish world to know Jesus, wrote most of the New Testament, and eventually lost his life to beheading because he followed Jesus. 

At first he thought he was great, but then Jesus humiliated him, and only when he lost everything did he realize that Jesus was better than any of that.  Paul lost his family connections (a Jewish family would disown people who became Christians), his position, his home, and had to make friends with people he originally hated.  In the end, he lost his life.  But in the end, he got more than that because he now has eternal life with Jesus.

Mark 8:35, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

3. The mirror

Have a mirror made from foil spread over a cardboard oval. 

Before I leave the house every day, I look in the mirror.  I make sure my hair looks normal, that my make-up is on, and that I don’t look crazy.  Who else looks in the mirror every day?

Mirrors are great, but they don’t show what is inside.  Sometimes, in the old days, people couldn’t afford mirrors, so they had to look in a lake or a pool of water. 

Proverbs 27:19, “As water reflects a face, so a man or woman’s heart reflects that person.”

The mirror can show what you look like, but it can’t show you what you love, how deep you love it, how good you are, or even if you are saved.

Crumple the foil.  Does this new mirror say that you are crumpled?  No, it just reflects the outside.  Just the same, what you say and do reflect your heart.  If you are doing things to fit in with your friends or society that don’t honor God, then it may reflect that you do not truly know him.  Or if you disobey your teachers that your parents trust over you or are mean to other kids, it may mean you need to spend more time in God’s Word.

Just the same, if you are kind to people, obey teachers, and obey God even when other people make fun of you because of it, then it shows that your heart truly belongs to God. 

Trust in the Lord and don’t lean on your own understanding.  Don’t be wise in your own eyes, but turn away from evil.  It will heal your bones.

I will close with these three paragraphs from World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips:

God set his love on us in eternity past, and granted us to Christ, for him to save us.  In our lifetimes, God the Holy Spirit convinces us of our guilt and of the truth of the Gospel.  God grants us repentance and saving faith, regenerates us, and declares us righteous.  He comes to live within us himself, by means of the person of the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live life on a plane we would not have imagined outside of Christ.

It is literally true, then that God in sovereign grace has given us everything we need in Christ for life and godly living.

How is this a world-tilting truth?  The world is all about pulling itself up by its bootstraps.  It has programs, rules, principles, tips, disciplines, and a thousand other things that promise perfection…or at least marked improvement.  And happiness.  And fulfillment.  And meaning…

I closed with 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

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