The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. – Luke 18:9-14
Today I’m launching a new weekly post that I intend (promise… hope… will try..) to consistently follow through with. My plan is to reflect on the current sermon series at WFPC and add what will – hopefully – be a helpful footnote to the most recent Sunday morning message.
The new series is titled “The Seven Deadly Sins,” but it turns out it’s not deadly at all. Fact is the messages are interesting, challenging, engaging and inspirational. I know some preachers who might invite the play on words “7 deadly sermons”, but that could never apply to Rebekah.
This Sunday kicked off with “Pride.” For the balance of the list, the order is subject to variation, but “pride” is always number one, at the top of the page (You can see/listen to the message at this link – The Deadly Sin of Pride – beginning at around the 23-minute mark).
“Deadly,” Rebekah pointed out, does not mean fatal so much as foundational. “Sin” is anything that tends to move us away from God, anything that serves to separate us from the wide-open invitational love of our Creator. “Pride” is thinking, acting, believing, living as if we do not need God; it is the dangerous practice of comparing and judging and excluding; it is putting self at the center; and – tragically – pride shuts us off from the work of grace and the healing of redemption.
“Thank you, Lord,” said the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable, addressing not only God but anyone else within earshot, “that I am so good at religion, and so much better than this other guy.” Pride did not allow the religious leader to admit his own need for mercy and forgiveness. In consequence, he missed the deep balm of forgiveness and the arresting beauty of grace.
Work in Progress:
Personally, I’m glad I’m a continuous work in progress. There is never any doubt that I have much to learn and that I stand eternally in need of grace and forgiveness and mercy.
Sure, I often point out moments of beauty and fulfillment – not to boast but as encouragement for others to keep moving forward too.
It’s a lot like Monday’s game of golf. The afternoon was sunny, breezy and cold. George, Will, Braxton and I were just grateful to be out there. So when my ball rolled into the hole for a spectacular birdie chip-in the cheers and the fist-bumps were for all of us, for the joy of seeing something remarkable happen, and for the encouragement that a moment like that really can come about.
If I had thought to myself, “Thank you, Lord, that I am so good at golf, and so much better than these other guys…” then not only would I have been deluded, I would have missed out on the grace, the encouragement, the fellowship, the joy, and the journey.
That is the bottom line; pride sets us up to miss out on the joy of salvation, of the opportunity to participate with God – beginning right now – in the Creator’s ongoing initiatives of Grace and redemption.
Peace – and so much more – DEREK