First the Blade
© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven
Building a Foundation of Faith (i)
In the late 1990′s, Carol and I attended a church outside of Louisville, Kentucky. The regular pastor was on vacation and a substitute pastor preached the sermon. I don’t remember his main message, but a small quip of his was written on my heart that particular Sunday.
“People used to be content with just saying, ‘I prayed,’ but that’s no longer true,” said the substitute pastor. “Now, they say, ‘I interceded,’ and not only that, they then give themselves titles, calling themselves intercessors. Now, why do you think this has happened?”
The pastor went on with his main message, but his off-message remark was like a lightning bolt, zeroing in on my heart. I knew the answer to his question because I was guilty of the sin.
There’s just something within most of us, or at least in me, which is not satisfied with associating with the meek and lowly. We want to be exalted. We want an elevated position of notice. We want others to recognize our spirituality and understand they are below us on the spiritual ladder.
All believers know pride is a grievous sin, but we all still struggle with it every day. And even the godliest believers among us, whether he is a Billy Graham, a John Piper, a Mother Teresa, or whoever, are not spared this daily battle. Look what the Apostle Paul wrote about himself:
For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me to keep me from exalting myself. (2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 8)
Paul’s thorn in the flesh – a messenger of Satan – was allowed by the Lord to cause Paul problems so it would help control his pride. The apostle still went on to ask the Lord three times to remove it, but then Paul wrote:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 9 – 10)
Pride is the #1 reason we believers do not receive answers to our prayers. It derails our faith and causes us to look at our own strengths and away from the One who is all-powerful.
Remember: Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” He did not say we should have faith in our praying ability, our knowledge of the Bible, our spirituality, our fasts or our gifts. Anytime our faith depends on what we can do, rather than what He can do, or who He is, we have fallen into the snare of pride.
…God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6 NLT)
The God who we are praying to and asking for help will be the same God who will oppose us if we have the sin of pride. Let that swirl around in your mind for a minute or two, and you will discover what I have learned through hard lessons, it’s a losing situation.
If our prayers are not being answered in a timely fashion, I suggest we bow before the throne of grace and ask, “Lord, show me my heart. Do I have pride?”
How long should we wait? Until He answers our question. There is no use trying to move on if we have a pride problem, right?
The next hindrance to receiving answers to our prayers is a close relative of pride.
(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)