18Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.
23The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
26A worker's appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.
27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:18-33. NASB.)
I have to preach to myself a lot. I remind myself, “Pride comes before a fall.” I struggle with that…stinky self-righteousness. And if I feel “icky” and am not quite sure why, I blame it on that. I pray God will keep me humble. I ask He will keep a guard over my mouth. I trust in the Lord, completely. Anyone who knows my life story (my witness to God’s goodness, mercy, and grace) knows that. I wish people could see my heart. My confining flesh is like a dam…blockading a deep reservoir of love. Love so amazing it wants to burst forth. I love, because God first loved me (1 John 4:19). I wish we could be like in Acts with flames “resting on each one of us” who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:2-3. NASB.)Would that be better for followers of Christ or make things more difficult (for those who cannot worship in public)?
This statement from Pastor John MacArthur caught my attention,
Preaching to others, and being disqualified. The landscape of the church. The landscape of the evangelical church is strewn with corpses. People who are laid low, disqualified, because their lives didn't support their message. Paul didn't want to be laid low on the Christian landscape. He didn't want to just become another corpse, just another casualty, just another calamity. Somebody who talks about Christ proclaims Christ, claims Christ, says he loves Christ, ostensibly serves Christ. And then ends up a corpse on the landscape. He didn't want that to happen, and that's why he said at the end of [1 Corinthians 10] chapter 9, "I have to run to win. I have to compete, exercising self-control. I have to run not aimlessly, box not as a shadow boxer. I have to pound my body into submission, because I do not want to be another casualty." And that would be true for any of us. It's certainly true for me. It's certainly true for those in spiritual leadership. But it's true for everybody, because all of us are called to witness. All of us who have ever proclaimed the gospel need to support that with our lives. And it seems to me in the day in which we live, there are more corpses around the evangelical landscape than there have ever been in my life….Yikes! Like Paul, I do not want to be “laid low on the Christian landscape”! Please, Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you!
The Christian life is an effort to get as close to Jesus Christ as you can. The Christian life is an effort to be as pure as you can. It's not a life that says because God is gracious, I'm going see how far I can go to the edge before he reacts negative. If that's how you're living your life, seeing how close to the edge you can get, you're testing God's tolerance….
Death to the complainers. I like that. I hate complainers. They're so destructive. They're so poisonous. They were assuming that God didn't know what was best. They were assuming that God didn't do what was best. They were assuming that their plan was better than his. There are a lot of terrible assumptions….And here you have the list. Worldliness. Idolatry. Immorality. Testing God. Complaining. We stand warned. If you don't get a grip on your life, and exercise self-denial, self-control, in the spiritual dimension, then all the privileges that you have from God can be diminished, as you abuse those privileges until finally you're just another corpse strewn out there on the landscape, flirting with the world, flirting with its idols, flirting with its morals, flirting with its materials, pushing the patience of God, complaining that you don't get what you want when you want it. This is a tragic way to live your life. You may think that everything is okay, and that you're standing pretty strong, but if these are the kind of attitudes that have found root in your heart, you're about ready to have a fall….
So, it's just when we think we stand that we have to be reminded that we are always necessarily devoted to the spiritual means to win the battle. And as you grow in Christ, and as you mature in Christ, you get stronger. You become a spiritual young man. You become a spiritual father. And you get stronger in that battle. And the Lord will always provide the way out. Nowhere to go. No one to blame but yourself. (By John MacArthur. ©2014 Grace to You. Website: gty.org. http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-291/avoiding-the-pitfalls-of-spiritual-pride