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Pride – part 3

Are you engaging with Holy Spirit?

Pride can rear its ugly head here when we believe that the Holy Spirit is exclusive to us and that we are receiving a special download and that this revelation we are receiving invalidates anything anyone else may be hearing from the same Holy Spirit. Yes this is extreme, but it does happen, though often in a milder form.

Let’s face it we all do it. Have you heard of that strange new teaching? How can a Christian possibly in all conscience vote Brexit / Remain / Clinton / Trump? Come, listen to this. (Insert name of teacher here) has really lost it this time! We all think we have the total truth and are quite willing to dismiss any ministry or teacher that doesn’t agree with us 100% and could even label them as heretical in our mockery and gossip. This is a huge dilemma for me and I have received a lot of flak for featuring some teachers on my web pages that are gifted communicators but on certain points are at odds with my web audience. In other words they may be 95% kosher but it’s that 5% that condemns them in some people’s eyes. The question is, who is absolutely certain that they have got that 5% right themselves? We need to have the humility and the teachable spirit to accept that we may have got some things wrong. John Stott had a negative view of Israel, yet he was a gifted communicator of the Gospel and lived as a faithful servant. If I posted some of his teachings on my Saltshakers website I guarantee that there will be some questioning my wisdom for doing so. No teacher has it 100% right on everything and we need not just to be discerning but also accepting that only God judges our heart and that it speaks more about our own heart if we condemn others for not always agreeing with us.

This is the problem when some teachers and preachers are put on a pedestal and then have a mighty fall from grace when they topple off it. Does this mean that we burn all their books and invalidate all aspects of their ministry? And what about those who we disagree with on what we may call non-essential doctrines? One issue is that of creationism. The vast majority of the UK Church believe in some synthesis between creationism and evolutionary theory. They tend to be scornful and condescending to creationists. Tom Wright, perhaps the UK’s most popular theologian, has gone as far as to say that creationists are following a “false religion”. Others would declare that creationists are too simplistic and anti-scientific in their outlook and hinder evangelistic efforts. It is no better in the other camp, with creationists (myself included) condemning the rest as not putting sufficient faith in the written word of God. Ignoring theological issues here, the key point is the attitude that each has towards the other. Pride is demonstrated by the unwillingness to consider the other as a brother and a sister in Christ and also in an unwillingness to debate the issues and consider the possibility that they may have got things wrong and need humility to admit this and act on it.

A passage that speaks into this situation is Romans Chapter 14. It really says it all:

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

The principle being taught here is this: Let’s not judge each other, we are all accountable to God, so let Him be the judge. Let’s put no extra stumbling block between ourselves but instead examine our own hearts to see if pride has in any way taken hold.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Another manifestation of this mindset is the tunnel-vision we often employ when forging ahead with our own vision and ministry. If the Holy Spirit has inspired not just your calling but that of thousands of others, all following their paths, why do we rarely acknowledge each other’s calling and work together more? This is not the world of commerce, where all is competition, this is God’s kingdom, where all is collaboration … supposedly. One aspect of this is the proliferation of Christian TV channels, many showing the same syndicated content at great cost to everybody. If the Holy Spirit is truly directing all of these efforts, then he is obviously not bothered by duplication. But this could just be my pride emerging here. Who am I to judge, after all? Common to many in ministry I often wonder what is the point of ‘this ministry or that ministry’. The only answer to such thinking is to concentrate solely upon what the Lord has given you to do and leave the rest to Him.

This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp

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