Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pride is destructive, humility is world-changing


Part One. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)

In the creation account, many of the details do not fit logically and most people do not believe it. The theory of evolution has many illogical aspects too, yet it has become the preferred alternative with focus on the last part of this verse. As I read it again, I wondered what would happen if the first part became the focus. I so easily think of the trees, mountains, flowers, and every other created thing as amazing, but God said of them that they were “good.” It was after He created human beings that He called it “very good.” But we consider ourselves ‘advanced apes’ and in our pride, turn our backs on God’s evaluation.

Soon after creation, the Lord God commanded man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17)  And in pride, man turned his back on God’s warning – with eternal consequences for him and all who came after him.

That included women. God decided, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18) He made the woman and presented her to the man as a suitable partner to help him (this word ‘helper’ is also used for God as our helper) and we all know what men and women have done with that arrangement and how deeply pride in “doing our own thing” affects society.

Part Two. Then came the One who would show us what it means to be humble. His example began by His choice of heritage. “Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron . . .  Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse . . .” are people in the lineage of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:3–5) The two women I have italicized prostituted themselves, yet God was not concerned about the reputation of Jesus’ ancestors. He was more concerned about the eternal destination of us all. Do we dare turn our backs on that?

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18–19)

Not only did Jesus have skeletons in the family tree, His mother had the appearance of an immoral woman. Only an angel could step in and change the mind of the man in her life: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24–25)

Soon after Jesus was born, the magi, also known as king-makers, came and worshipped this baby and gave Him gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11), but Herod the king had a fit. Instead of bowing to God’s king, he “he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16)

Part Three. Stroking my ego, thinking I know better than God, worrying about reputation, taking matters into my own hands, wanting to be best and in charge – these things are rooted in pride and are what the wisest man declared, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

That kingdom of self is vanity (the word means a mist or a vapor) and eventually vanishes, but Jesus clearly demonstrates the value of having no concern for self and considering others more important. Humility has eternal consequences.

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