“There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.” (John Maxwell)
On Sunday my sermon title was “Washing Your Pride Away.”
I gave out wash cloths at the end of the sermon, inviting people to let them be a reminder to wash away their pride like Naaman needed to do as told in 2 Kings 5.
And I also invited people to answer these two questions:
a. Where am I prideful in a “bad” way?
b. How does this limit how God can or is working in my life?
It’s that second question that I find most intriguing. Its a good question.
Can we really limit how God can or does work in our lives? If that is true then it is a scary thought. Not scary because God will punish us or send down His wrath on us. Not scary because God will reject us or in some way shame us . Scary because we can have so much more but our attitude (e.g. pride) limits the potential of God working in greater ways. Naaman, a general in the Syrian army, is stricken with leprosy. He is sent to Elisha, the great prophet in Israel, to be cured. But expecting a royal welcome, Elisha doesn’t even bother to come out and see him. Instead, he sends his servant which sends Naaman into a tailspin. It really boils over when the servant gives him Elisha’s prescription: “Wash in the Jordan River seven times.” Naaman is insulted and underwhelmed. He not only wanted the red carpet treatment but a spectacle, a high energy show with lights and fog machines and all the things that create an atmosphere charged with excitement and emotion. What he got instead was the simple, unspectacular, unemotional, unfashionable directive to wash in the river. After leaving in a rage, highly insulted and greatly disappointed, Naaman’s servants convince him to go back and do what Elisha commands. So Naaman surrenders his pride and when Naaman humbles himself he allowed God to do a miracle. God was waiting to do a miracle all along but Naaman was stubborn, egotistical and full of pride. He was limiting how God could work in his life.
This happened in the time of Jesus as well.
Matthew 11:28 reads: “And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of of faith.”
In Ephesians chapter three Paul writes: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than we could ask or think according to the power that is at work with us.” Did you get that? According to the power that is at work within us. In other words, God can only do as much as we allow Him to do.
In Revelation we read the plea to the Church at Laodocia: ” Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”‘
The inference is clear: If they do not open the door, Jesus cannot come in.
Like Naaman, we may be looking for God to do some big time miracle or rescue us from our life situations. But the answer may not look like anything we envision…it may simply include a partnership with God. His mighty power and our humble spirit.
Can we limit God’s power in our lives? According to Scripture the answer is “Yes.”
As my mother use to say when she called to us kids as the summer evening drew to a close: “It’s time to wash up.”
What do you think? How does it make you feel?