I think many times the Holy Spirit would like to say that to us, albeit in a heavenly way. Whether it be our bragging of why we think we’re going to heaven or if we as Christians try to portray ourselves as something we really aren’t.
Some of us like to wear our badges of humility with great pride. If you’re telling people how humble of a person you are, you’re probably not. That’s not saying that if you speak of a need of seeking greater humility that you’re bragging. You’re not. I’m talking of the person who uses the word humble to describe him or herself. For example; “Your Humble Correspondent.” Not so much!
There are some who like to portray a sense of perpetual brokenness, believing all is lost and I just need to tear my clothes and pour ashes on my head and say woe be the world. Somehow I don’t get visions of being salt and light with that attitude.
Paul had to battle against those who put their confidence in their flesh, specifically the sect of Judaizers who demanded the rite of circumcision. The Philippian Church had such a controversy and Paul addresses it directly in his letter to this small church:
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” (Philippians 3:1-7)
There are many today who are bragging about and trusting in their money to bring them joy and happiness, and perhaps secure them eternity. Paul instructed his young son Timothy earlier in a letter to warn against this:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Paul battled the Pharisees in his day, of which he was once one, and today we have Pharisees in American Christendom of whom we must battle. The Pharisees of the Jesus’ time had developed such a burdensome system of works that very few could attain this false holiness. These men considered themselves super pious and would have nothing to do with the common people, other than to show off for them. Jesus had harsh words for them:
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.” But you, do not be called “Rabbi”; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.’” (Matthew 23:1-15)
That was a somewhat long passage of Scripture but Jesus is denouncing much in this passage. Read back through it to see if anything rings true for you. For me, Jesus’ warning about exalting myself and being humbled for it is a reminder that I must constantly check my pride at the door.
And if any of us really thought we had a reason to brag about our religiosity, Paul had all the more reason. He was born of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, trained under the tutelage of Gamaliel and taught the perfect law of the Jewish fathers, and no one was more zealous than Paul.
And what did he equate all these works to? Garbage!
Why? Because of Jesus.
Again, why…and how?
We’ll look at that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers