Thursday, July 27, 2006


If anyone wants to deliver a sermon on the subject of pride, one good way to do it is to picture a human being as a beautiful flower garden, and pride as a weed in that garden. From this, 3 basic points about pride can be expounded:

First, pride, like a weed, cuts off and eventually consumes all that is beautiful. If a weed is allowed to take root, and is then left unchecked, it will grow and spread. Eventually, it will choke off all the flowers in the garden. Pride is the same way. If you live in a very nice neighborhood that is run by a homeowner's association, you know that having a manicured lawn is part and parcel of being in good standing with the homeowner's association and with your neighbors. There's a reason for this. Yards/gardens that are not well maintained and are overrun with weeds are unattractive. It drives down property values, and gives the owners a bad reputation in the neighborhood because nobody wants to look at an unattractive garden. So it is with pride. Psalm 10:4 talks about unchecked pride not allowing room for anything associated with God. Like a weed, pride crowds out, chokes out, and eventually consumes what is good, attractive, and desirable. So the next time you pass a house that has a weed-infested garden on display for all the world to see, think of it is as a vivid picture of what a prideful person looks like, and then think about how your own pride taints the way people see you.

Second, pride, like a weed, is very difficult to uproot and contain once it has taken hold. I like to tell the story of the house my wife and I first lived in after we were married. This was my grandmother's house before she died, and she just loved English ivy. She loved it so much that she allowed it to grow over most of the backyard, consuming everything in its path. The ivy field went unchecked, so that when my wife and I moved in, the best we could often do was merely to stop it from growing any more than it already had. I hated that English ivy and wanted nothing more than to get rid of all of it. But because it had grown to such a degree and had taken such a hold over the yard, it quickly became apparent that the only way I was ever going to get rid of the ivy was to thoroughly poison the backyard to kill it, which also would have killed everything else. So it is with pride. Proverbs 8:13 says that God hates pride, and of course, Pr. 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction. The message is clear; if pride is allowed to take hold, not only will it choke off all that is good, but it itself becomes difficult to choke off once it has taken hold. Pride that is allowed to fester can easily become ingrained. Like cancer and other diseases, pride is much easier to treat if detected early. Once it has permeated your soul, pride, like my grandmother's ivy, is almost impossible to dislodge.

Third and finally, pride, like a weed, will provoke laborious pruning. If we are the garden, and pride is the weed, then the owner of the garden, God, is not going to sit back and allow his garden to be made ugly. Proverbs 29:23 says that a man's pride brings him low, because pride will provoke divine pruning to reintroduce one of the beautiful flowers in the garden - humility. Humility is a virtue in God's eyes, and should be in ours as well. But pride and humility cannot coexist peacefully. By its very nature, a weed is an aggressive and invading growth that sets out to take over the area it occupies. It is a threat to everything else that grows there. So it is with pride. Pride is not interested in compromising with humility, because humility is a natural check against the growth of pride. Just like an aggressive weed will not leave the flowers in the garden alone, but will consume them if left unchecked, so it is with pride and humility. The owner of the garden who is pleased with the beauty of humility but is disgusted with the ugliness of pride will not merely look away. Instead, he will perform surgery on the garden to contain and destroy the weed. This isn't pleasant either to God or to the garden. Soil needs to be dug up. Chemicals may need to be applied. Sharp tools will be used. But if this is what it takes to beautify the garden and return the flowers to their rightful place of prominence and glory, we had better believe that this is what God will do. All one has to do is look at Yahweh's reaction to the pride of Edom in the prophecy of Obadiah. Sanctification is all about beautification.

We don't like weeds, and God doesn't like pride. The message is clear. Ask God to give you the eyes he has when he looks out over the whole garden, in order to identify those areas of the garden where weeds might be taking hold. It is better and much more painless to deal with a weed before it spreads. Don't allow your beauty to be consumed by the ugliness of pride.


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