While preparing for last Sunday’s sermon, “the Darkness Deepens” on Ex. 10, I was led to a comparison between Pharaoh, king of Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  Both were arguably the most powerful men in the world in their day.  Both struggled with pride before God.  Both interacted with God’s messengers who spoke the word of God to them.  One stubbornly resisted God the other humbly repented (see Daniel 4).  Pride is considered the primary sin by many.  One doesn’t have to look too far in the Bible to find statements like this one in Prov. 8:13“To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Or again from Prov.3:34 “He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”  That verse is picked up by the apostle Peter in his first letter and he applies it by stating, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (I Peter 5:6).  So, while we may not be as stubborn as old Pharaoh, the question remains, “How much of an issue is pride in your life?”  I wrestle with pride in finding myself making comparisons with others.  It can occur in either of two directions:  Either I feel “better than” others and have an inflated sense of self, or I feel “less than” others and feel inferior.  In neither case am I focusing on God and gratefully accepting who HE has made me to be and finding contentment with my lot in life.  Pride sneaks out in surprising ways:  an unwillingness to admit my faults, a sense of entitlement, a focus on personal comfort instead of service, the list could go on and on.  How much better . . .  to acknowledge my faults to God and others so I can treasure his forgiveness; to accept – with thanksgiving - the parameters of my situation rather than compare with others; to allow others to be who they are rather than who I want them to be.  The list could on and on.  In reflecting on the text I need to sit with Moses’ question to Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?”  Then go on to hear the promise through the prophet Isaiah, “This is what the high and loft One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy:  I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Is. 57:15).  We gain a close and intimate relationship with God when we let go of stubborn resistance and replace it with humble repentance.

Pastor Mark

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