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Pride and the Day I Fell – Hard!

11 Jan

When I was a cocky teenager, I decided to show off in front of my family. “Watch this!” I yelled.

Wait. Let me set this up for you. Our kitchen at the time was in an old military Quonset hut. It was cramped, with two parallel counters, close to each other. I placed one hand on each counter, planning to swing a leg way back and then forward with great gusto, switching my body’s direction in mid-air to totally impress my Embarrassed_DidAnyoneSeeMyFallfamily with my agility.

I’d done this several times on the parallel bars at the high school gym, so I felt pretty confident. Or as I said, “cocky.”

When I was sure everyone was watching, I swung my leg back and forward and …

Crash!

Both legs came out from beneath me and I fell to the floor in an awkward heap. And shock. And pain. And awful embarrassment.

My family will never let me forget how foolish I looked as I rubbed my sore rear end and scurried off to my bedroom – their loud guffaws drowning out my loud wails.

Even now, I cannot read or hear Proverbs 16:18 without thinking of that incident:

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The truth was, I was trying to show up another family member for her recent achievement. I wasn’t rejoicing in her success; I was haughty, trying to “prove something.” I wanted to demonstrate I could be even better than her.

Years later, traveling with a revival ministry, I had the opportunity to study pride. A few things I discovered about Pride were:

  • Pride is not compatible with love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
  • Pride can bring disgrace, but humility accompanies wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).
  • Pride puts distance between us and God (Psalm 138:6). [The truth is, it puts distance between us and others too!]
  • There is no room for God when thoughts are full of pride (Psalm 10:4); in fact, pride can make us forget about God completely (Deuteronomy 8:14a).

Yes, I remember that embarrassing fall in my teen years, and how God used it to teach me. I learned the heart that swells with pride and arrogance is “disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive” to God (Proverbs 16:5). It’s always better to choose humility. As the Psalmist said, “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

I’m thankful my prideful fall happened early in my life. Whenever I’ve been tempted to get puffed up with prideful thoughts, self-congratulation – or even worse, a haughty spirit, comparing myself with others – I remember how quickly I can take a serious tumble!

Do you have a story of a “prideful fall”? How did God teach you to be humble?

Two Kinds of Wisdom

25 Apr

It’s said, “Wisdom comes with experience.” Could be true …

Dwayne is a strong young man at the construction site and he was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He WheelbarrowMan_Croppedmade a special case of making fun of one of the older workmen, George. After several minutes, George had had as much as he was willing to take.

“OK, Dwayne, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?’ he stated thoughtfully. ‘I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.”

“You’re on, old man,” Dwayne, the braggart replied, smirking. “Let’s see what you got.”

George, the old fellow, reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to Dwayne, he said, “All right. Get in.”

One of the things I’ve learned from experience is that I am not always wise. I want to be, but I’m not. And when I’m not, there’s a good reason for it. Usually, it’s because I drank from a fool’s well, not the waters of wisdom found in the Word.

Whenever I ask women to quote Proverbs 3:5-6 with me, it’s a resounding chorus. We’ve memorized that scripture and love it:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

Analyzing that passage, we see a directive … a warning … another directive that further explains the first one, I think … and a promise. I have counseled my heart with that scripture in many circumstances. Haven’t you?

But when I ask women to quote verse seven, I get blank stares. It says,

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

This verse sounds more confrontational … a warning that somehow makes us uncomfortable. After all, how do we know whether we are being wise in our own eyes? And how does that kind of wisdom affect the warning in verse five? If we are wise in our own eyes, are we leaning on our own understanding?

Kathi Macias shed some light on the wrong kind of wisdom. In her March 20 devotional she quoted Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” – and then Kathi reminded readers, “God is the only Author of true morality, the One who declares right from wrong, and He sets a absolute standard to which we must adhere.”

Wisdom for living, then, is seeing life from God’s perspective, including His moral standard. We must not be “wise” in our own eyes. We must fear (reverence, honor and trust) God and then – as biblical wisdom dictates, “depart from evil.” Wisdom that hears God’s truth and then refuses to obey is the “you’re only fooling yourself” sort of wisdom.

FearOfTheLord_WisdomProverbs 9:10 echoes this thought. Authors, speakers and the media spout words of “wisdom,” but we must beware of their words, because true wisdom begins with “the fear of the LORD. And without knowledge of “the Holy One,” there is no understanding. Again, the scriptures say, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Fools despise and will not heed the wisdom of God; they prefer the wisdom of the world that caters to their appetites and preferences – their own ways rather than God’s ways. The prophet Hosea warned God’s people not to trust in their own way – their own plans and strength (Hosea 10:13).

We must be careful – discerning – filtering the world’s wisdom through the Word of God. If it doesn’t align, we must reject “wisdom,” no matter how “intelligent” or “popular” the source. We must always reject ungodly counsel.

As I studied Proverbs 3:7, I asked myself, “What does being wise in my own eyes look like?”

I think we are wise in our own eyes:

  • When we rush ahead and don’t pause to pray for God’s help before we make a decision
  • When we don’t flee temptations because we think, “I can handle this.”
  • When we fail to recognize that God’s grace, not our own strength, is our enabling for victory
  • When we aren’t teachable
  • When we assume our Pastor’s message must be for “someone else.”
  • When we don’t ask trusted, wise Christian friends for advice or counsel.
  • When we care more about how people perceive us than obedience to God’s Word
  • When we’re more self-confident than God-confident

Being wise in our own eyes sounds a lot like self-sufficiency and pride, doesn’t it? We are wise in our own eyes whenever our actions (if not our words) say, “I’ve got this one, Jesus … I don’t need your help right now.” God hates such pride and arrogance (Proverbs 8:13). Wisdom comes from humility and those who are willing to take biblical advice (Proverbs 11:2; 13:10).

Wisdom is related to our worldview. Either we have a Bible-grounded, Bible-relevant worldview or we don’t.

So, where do you find your wisdom – and how does your source of wisdom affect your attitudes and behaviors?

– Dawn

Hope for Fools

1 Apr

Every had one of these April Fool’s Day pranks pulled on you?

  • Put bubble wrap under a toilet seat so when the victim sits, they are surprised by a loud “pop!”
  • Find an old bottle of nail polish. Unscrew the cap and set it sideways on waxed paper. Let the contents flow out into a puddle. When it’s completely dry, peel off the paper and put it on a friend’s important document.
  • Tape magnets to the bottom of an empty coffee cup. Attach to the top of your car and laugh as people frantically try to get your attention as you drive by.

April Fool’s Day pranks are fun, as long as no one gets hurt. But there’s nothing funny about a real fool.

An old Irish Proverb says, “Don’t give cherries to pigs or advice to fools.” It sounds like a scripture: “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9).

The Bible has so much to say about fools. Among other things, fools despise wisdom (Proverbs 1:7), “feed on folly” (Proverbs 15:14), are reckless and careless (Proverbs 14:16), speak all their mind in anger (Proverbs 29:11), are quarrelsome (Proverbs 20:3), spout folly and speak before they understand (Proverbs 15:2; 18:2), believe everything instead of practicing discernment (Proverbs 14:15), babble on and trust only in their own thoughts and opinions (Proverbs 10:8; 28:26).

Fools mock the reality of God (Psalm 14:1), despise authority and grieve their parents (Proverbs 15:20). They build on “sand” (Matthew 7:26), waste resources and fail to prepare for the future (Proverbs 21:20; Luke 12:16-20), lack sense and delight in foolish behavior (Proverbs 15:21), flaunt their foolishness (Proverbs 13:16), and ultimately, inherit disgrace (Proverbs 3:35). To their shame, they don’t realize how deceived they are (Proverbs 14:7-9).

That sounds like a fool is hopeless, doesn’t it?

It’s just not so.

Lots of "Baggage"

I tease my husband Bob and call him my “April Fool,” because we met on April Fool’s Day in 1972. It wasn’t fair, because I was fooling him about who I was. I seemed to be a godly Christian girl with her act together, but inside I was a pile of messy mush ~ an emotional and spiritual wreck. I carried a lot of foolish baggage into our marriage.

But as I reflected on this, years later, I came to think that maybe it wasn’t all my fault. Henry Louis Mencken once said, “A man always blames the women who fools him. In the same way, he blames the door he walks into into the dark.” (LOL!) Smitten with love, my husband failed to see the real me. It’s a common problem with those who are “in love.” Maybe we should have taken more time to get to know each other before we slid those rings on eager fingers.

But God had a beautiful plan in mind. He used Bob to help shape my life.

An unknown author wrote, “Real friends are those who, when you feel you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” My husband is my best friend (besides Jesus), and he has cheered me on for all of our married life, feeling I had some potential for wise choices, and guiding me gently to live in the truth of the Word of God. I like to think that God has honored Bob’s sensitivity, positivity, and faith.

The truth is, in God’s eyes, there is always hope for a fool ~ if the fool turns to Him for refuge and wisdom.

The Prodigal Son of Luke 15:11-32 was certainly foolish.

But this rebellious fool came to his senses and realized what he was missing. He remembered his father’s love and returned, repentant, hoping for even a bit of grace. And he got more than he hoped for. The father welcomed him and lavished love upon him.

Do you have a fool in your family? Among your friends? Don’t give up hope. God can use the simplest things to turn a fool around. He used pigs in a pigsty to wake up a rebellious, foolish son.

Your part?

Pray for fools. Pray for their companions (Proverbs 13:20). Love them. And as they open to your love, offer snippets of biblical wisdom (even if you don’t quote chapter and verse). It is the Word of God that will pierce the heart and conscience (Hebrews 4:12), and the love of God that draws the heart of a fool to fear Him ~ to respect and honor Him, leading to obedience ~ (Romans 5:6-9). When a person “fears” God, this is the beginning of wisdom and much-needed insight (Proverbs 9:10).

The wonderful truth is, God loves to turn the heart of a fool to wisdom.

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