Author - Mike Curtis
I’m not exceptionally good at very many things, and in fact when I notice that I’m becoming good at something, I always get knocked down a notch or 7. Take for example the time that I thought I was getting good at running… until instead of winning a race I came in nearly dead last. Or when I was overconfident on the ski slopes and got into some situations in some terrain that was way too difficult for my ability. Or when I think I know what the Bible says only to be completely off because I missed one important detail. I’m actually really grateful that I get knocked down now and then because it keeps my pride and self-reliance in check.
When we get comfortable or good at something, the result is often pride. Doing a good job and being confident is not the root of pride, it is when we think we’re better than others because of what we know or are capable of. King Uzziah was extremely gifted in leadership, domestically, internationally, and within his own administration. We’re told that he did right in the eyes of the Lord, about his successes, and then we learn that when he was strong he grew proud, which led to his destruction.
It isn’t just this King who suffers from pride, that particular sin is evident in John 12, particularly in a comment made about Judas. He suggests that the perfume which Mary was using to anoint Jesus with should have been sold and the money given to the poor. His pride shows forth John’s parenthetical note that Judas helped himself to money from the disciple's communal funds. Judas likely thought he was getting away with something, and that he knew the right way to handle the situation.
What is the antidote to this problem? In the account of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26, the antidote is given multiple times – it is rooted in his determinations made as a young man, his actions in the first part of his rule, and then again right after his destruction is mentioned. He determined to follow the Lord, ruled based on the Lord’s guidance, and his life was faithful to the Lord. When he became strong, that faithfulness was lost. His determination suffered and he was self-reliant instead of reliant on God.
There is a parallel in Bethany as well. Some will want to cite Mary for not helping Martha serve their guest, others will want to fault Martha for not worshipping Christ as Mary did. Of course we will cite Judas for his pride, but what is the antidote? Clearly in all these cases the key is that we are to worship God, not because He needs it or because it gets us somewhere, but because it is the only suitable response to the free gift of grace we receive from God.
In the second half of John 12, the crowds were gathered because they wanted to see and honor the person who was responsible for raising Lazarus from the dead. What resulted was an impromptu type of parade honoring Christ. The Pharisees saw Him as a threat to their power and control and even the Pharisees noticed that the whole world was going after Him. The people who saw Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb continued to bear witness – to tell people in other worlds – concerning this resurrection and that message changed lives.
How often does pride or self-reliance take over in our lives? Even though I’m not exceptionally good at much, I can get very self-reliant, much like King Uzziah. I think that I can do things on my own without God, the ultimate example of pride. How should we avoid it? Not only realize that we need to be right with God, that we need to repent, that we need to trust Him and worship him, but we need to actually do those things.
It isn’t a realization of reality that is an act of worship, but it is those acts themselves that are worship. Saying “Thanks” and then going on as before isn’t enough when it comes to a response to the gift of grace, but to structure our very lives to express our joy for God’s righteous deeds in our lives. Serving Jesus, being completely determined to live for Him, bearing witness, trusting in His guidance and acting on that (no matter what the world says), and screaming/shouting praise to God are just a few of the examples in these passages – there are many many more in the Scriptures – may you see these acts of worship and take them as an example for your own life!