2 Chronicles 26
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? What do you have that you did not receive.”
We’re going to be looking at second Chronicles, 26, and we’re going to look at one verse this morning. It’s verse 16. But this morning, I want to talk to you about the greatest threat to your life. Now, there are a lot of threats right now, we feel right. Uh, there’s a lot of things that can feel threatening.
Uh, the pandemic feels threatening, uh, a governmental regime, whichever one you’re concerned about can feel threatening, present, or future, uh, economic down, turn losing your job cancer diagnosis. Crisis in your family. It’s possible that one of those or a number of those or a number of other things feel threatening to you, but I want to talk to this morning about the greatest danger and threat.
It is actually a character quality one, which will do more to deter your relationship with God and your relationship with others than any other element in your life. It is the issue of pride. It is the sin we most hate in others, but at least recognize in ourselves. It is the sin where the more we have of it, the more we dislike it in others, it is the root of every other sin in our lives.
You had to do something that we not only tend to minimize. But even find difficulty in identifying it as destructive because we have, uh, used the term pride in a positive way. We talk about school pride or national pride, or if we want somebody to do a good job, we say sakes and pride in your work. And I think the contemporary sense of the word pride is actually to see value in something and be glad to be associated with it.
But the Bible’s focus on pride is something very different. Now we’re going to look at a guy’s life this morning that illustrates the, the four-step progression that pride can take in our lives. We’re going to end with, I hope some very hopeful, good news, but we’re going to look at this individual’s life who gave himself to pride.
With the reminder that this particular issue in the Christian’s life has always been identified as the most dangerous church leader, early church had a Gregory, the great who was the first to put together. What is historically known as the seven deadly sins called pride, the root of all evil. Augusta and roading writing in the four hundreds, Ady said that pride is the first sin in that it encourages the person to displace God in the middle ages.
Thomas Aquinas wrote that pride is the mother of all sins. And more recently, 70 years ago in his classic work mere Christianity, CS Lewis devoted a whole chapter to pride under the title. The great sin. This morning, we consider a man named you. Zaja a King of Judah for 55 years. He was an individual who again, were presenting as a part of this series on, uh, still speaking the voices, the lives of people, biographically in the scripture that speak to us.
And we look at this guy’s life and we see. Summarized this progression of pride in his life in verse 16. Here’s what we read. But after you Zaja became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord, his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Lord, we sung some. Incredible songs this morning, we’ve talked about surrendering to you. We’ve talked about the stunning reality that we are chosen. We’re adopted where your kids you’ve made it. So. And Lord those realities of surrendering our lives to you and of embracing who we are, are so much at the heart.
I believe of, of deliverance from the domination of pride, which is so much a part of our, our default lives. So Lord teach us this morning. Maybe we learn from this guy, may we examine our own lives? May we be stunned again with the glory of being called your children? And the freedom that that really can bring from all things, including this dominating sin in our life, in Jesus name, amen.
In this forest step progression in pride. We see, first of all, that you Zaja became strong, but after you Zaja became powerful. When he was strong, you, Zion was a godly man in the verses prior to verse 16, that’s presented to us and delineated of, of how he was a godly man. And yet something took place in his life.
And it’s described under this phrase when he was strong or when he became powerful. It was a dangerous time for you Zaja because things were going well for him. He had some strength. He had some, some power in his life. If ever a guy had a reason not to worry, it was him. He was the King. You can’t take them out unless you happen to, to do a coup, but there was no threat of that during his reign, no one reviewed his performance.
He’s the King. After all, he had no sales quotas to meet no boards to account for no per performance standards in his prosperity. He became proud. He didn’t give thanks to God or acknowledge God is the source of his blessings. It is inevitably those times when we feel most secure that we are most facing the propensity to pride and to the security, the false security of strength in his book, the winner’s curse, Richard Fowler, a renowned economist.
Presents his re research into various. He first he started, uh, studying gamblers in Las Vegas. Then he, then he built it much more to looking at successful business people. And what he discovered is, is what we would intuitively expect. That the people that, uh, that most gamblers that hit it big, ended up blowing it because they get overconfident.
And he talked about how many business people had been successful. And they began to feel like they, they were above the rules of how to do things. And they took unwise gambles. They took, they took two bigger risks and he says, it’s the winner’s curse. It’s the danger of success. It’s the danger of feeling strong.
Now there are all kinds of moments in our lives when this can happen. Of course. It can happen as a young person, as a young adult, when you feel your prowess and energy, when, when everything’s ahead of you, when there’s in a way, there are not many big worries of life, you can feel strong. It can happen.
You when you’re in your twenties and you’re just starting out in your career and starting to see things come together and you can feel like it’s on the basis of your hard work, your discipline, your sweat, your energy. You can feel strong, can happen in your thirties. And now you are, as you started to build your family.
And now you’ve, you’ve got a couple of kids and, and life is coming together. Maybe you own your own home and you can see a path and it’s, and you’re settling in and, and things are not quite as frenzied and you can feel strong. You can do it in your late thirties, into your forties, into your fifties. When you’ve put your time, serving your family.
Now, the kids are starting to be raised. And now you’ve got a little more time. Life is a little bit quiet or maybe, and you can start to feel strong. You can do it in the retirement years. You did your bit, you’re ratcheting down, you’re enjoying the grandkids. You start feeling strong and maybe you’re out there.
And you’re saying, you know what? I’ve never felt that way. I get it. But my guess is. If you look back at your life journey those times when you felt less threatened by external circumstances, you had the most propensity to go and cruise control you. Zaja here is in a season of his life where he felt strong and it became the most treacherous time to have a false sense of what life was all about.
The second thing we find is at that time, he grew proud. Now the Hebrew word for pride means lifted up. Now we, we see that, you know, dictionary, I looked in different dictionaries dictionary, definitions of pride, where things like this and an ordinance self-esteem and unreasonable conceit. Of superiority and over winning weaning opinion of one’s qualities, we target things.
Guy has a big head he’s full of himself. He knows it all eyes puffed up. This idea of being lifted up is the word for pride. And that’s the biblical definition that, that one is lifted up now and lifted up above. What, what are we lifted up? Well, inevitably it is in comparison. With something else. And typically it is income with, with others, at least how we perceive our relationship and our position in relation to others.
Paul talks about this in one of the classic, uh, addresses to pride in the book of first Corinthians chapter four, verse six and seven, where he says this praying that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have? You didn’t receive if you then received it.
Why do you boast as if you did not, what do you have that you did not receive? He says you’re comparing yourselves and you’re finding benchmarks. CS Lewis brilliantly says it this way. In mere Christianity, he gives this definition of pride. He said, pride gets no pleasure out of having something only out of having more of it.
Then the next man, we say people are proud of being rich or clever or good looking, but they’re not, they’re proud of being richer or cleverer or better looking than others. It is the comparison that makes you proud. The pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.
Many of you have heard the expression keeping up with the Joneses. You may not know that that phrase comes from a comic strip in New York papers from 1913, it was by a guy that was actually living in Hempstead long Island, New York, and was writing about a fictitious character who was living in a nice, uh, upscale suburban neighborhood who had some neighbors come in though.
Jones. And everything about the June Jones made them he and his wife. Uh, looking like less than in the, in their own mathematical evaluated of things. And, and their neighbors constantly was pointing the signal to them. We feel like less than neighbors weren’t doing it on purpose. It was just, they seem to be cultured.
They seem to have money. They had charm, they had intelligence beauty. So the whole comic strip was built out of these people. Trying to keep up with the Joneses. Well, we fast forward a century later, and we’re still there, right? Because this is built into our lives. Our hearts, Paul tells us that pride actually a diluted view of self we’re trying to elevate ourselves comparatively with others.
But he says, I mean, look at this. He says, what do you have? You didn’t receive. And if you then received it, why do you boast as if you didn’t receive it? Why, why are you evaluating yourself, finding your identity in those things, you didn’t choose your race, your IQ, your time in history, your family, your early childhood experiences, which everybody says is so formative your personality, your physical appearance.
They’re the choice of God. Of course we say, well, Yeah, but I have the position I have because I work harder than anyone else. Really, no advantages experienced along the way. You think if you were raised in a Hava with a dirt floor, with drug controlled parents, everything would be the same in your life. I get straight A’s because I study more than my classmates.
Really IQ had nothing to do with it. Family support had nothing to play a role in getting to this place. I’m somebody because I’m beautiful, attractive, intelligent, you received it. Pulses. Why Boston? It, he says we’re, we’re finding our identity in, in stuff that only makes us feel a little bit higher, a little bit better than others.
And he says it’s just a, it’s a deck of cards. The problem with pride. Is it a false view of reality? Now, if this feels like I’m beating on the helmet, understand I’ve been beaten on mine all week. I get this, we all are comparative. We all want to be greater than not less than, but Paul is saying mean have an honest evaluation of, of life.
Well, you Zaja because he had been successful as a King because things were going well in the kingdom. This man who was a godly man, grew strong, nothing wrong with growing strong and having strength and success. However, it caused him to grow proud, which caused him to leave God. He was unfaithful to the Lord.
I was interested in this word thinking, what does it mean to be, what is he saying that he was unfaithful to God that he do bad things? We did some, but, but I don’t. And I looked at how the word was used in the old Testament. And I specifically focused on how is it used by the chronicler. And I found that in second Chronicles, 29.
The exact word is used and explained. Here’s what it says in second Chronicles, 29 verse six. It says our parents were unfaithful, did evil in the eyes of the Lord, our God. And for silk him, they turn their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turn their backs on him to hear everything about unfaithful.
Here’s what it is. They forsook the Lord. They. Turn their faces from the Lord. They turned their backs on the Lord. Every part of that sense of unfaithfulness is not that they did the wrong things. It’s not that they didn’t perform right. It was we’re unfaithful in the relationship to him. We use that exact same word to talk about a spouse that is that betrays a partner.
The idea that. I have been unfaithful to my spouse. I gave to other someone else what deservedly was only given to her or to him. This is the beautiful thing God is saying. God is not really that worked up about the things you do. Accept. Because he only is concerned because of it. What they say, they say that he doesn’t matter.
They say that you want to turn to something else. Use Zaja turned his heart to other stuff to define him. He turned it. Wow. I’m a King. He grew proud. I’m a successful King. I’ve done all this. That’s where he found his identity. That’s how he, he marked his life with a grade. That’s where he found his joy and hope and satisfaction and in doing so, he had a false view of himself because he was comparing himself to other people, maybe other smaller kingdom,
but in finding his satisfaction, his joy, his identity, there. He betrayed the true place where he could find true satisfaction, true joy, true contentment. He betrayed and wandered away from the Lord. Whether it’s an immoral relationship. Typically out of need somebody feeling bad about themselves, be out about themselves and they get a wandering eye and they get affirmation before they know what they’re they’re in somebody’s face.
But ultimately it’s, it’s, it’s the same sense that we’re looking for someone else’s bed. Maybe it’ll be my job. Maybe it will be getting a new house. Maybe it’ll be having more money. Maybe it’s my kids succeeding. But what, what happens is we begin to say, okay, I’m feeling better about myself because you know, things are going good here.
And that’s where I’ll find my identity. And it’s a Mirage it’s wandering away from the one place. The one relationship that will satisfy us, the one true definition of what our real identity can be and is in Christ. He wandered away. He left God. And what he found was he fell flat. It says in verse 16, this was to his destruction.
In his case, he started ending up like the rules weren’t for him. That he, God didn’t need to be in control of his life. He could take it. And he ended up going into the Holy of Holies and wanting to do the incense thing himself. And God made him a leper and he was humbled. He fell flat. Proverbs 16, 18 says it this way.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. What he found out.
is that God graced him with leprosy because there is something worse than falling. There is succeeding in something that takes you away from God, because you will never be satisfied. Especially if you have tasted the goodness of God and you have wandered away. The worst thing you can do is succeed.
Temporarily in that arena where you think you will find your satisfaction. God then mercifully in many of our lives has allowed false. He’s allowed our pride and our sense of, of independence and, and are now putting ourselves on the evaluation skid and wanting to be a greater than, and trying to succeed in this.
And. For many of us, I mean, there’s so many stories in this room and online, just in our church, family of God’s merciful, allowing things to be what we would look at and say, wow, what a fall. But you, what you find out there when you embrace God’s grace is there is something far worse than falling. It’s succeeding in the thing that takes you away from God.
But this falling flat can be a gift of God. Phil Vischer found this out. Phil Vischer is a brilliant animation. Just a born again, Christian. He started VeggieTales incredibly successful.
His idol in his own description was Walt Disney. His life goal, he said became to be Walt Disney or maybe to be the Christian, Walt Disney. Phil Visser has Vischer has written a book called me, myself and Bob. I think we have it. We have a picture of that. Oh, it’s not there. It’s up there. Um, it highlights his journey in his company.
It’s a, it’s a fascinating read. It’s a fun, it’s an easy read. As you read through the book, you’re drawn with the creativity and the energy of this guy and a guy who genuinely desired to bring glory to God, but in his own recognition, his goal shifted. Toward his own glory and God humbled him. He lost his company.
And in a salient moment in the book he describes it’s late in the book. He describes a profound moment afterwards in his journey with Christ. When he visited Disneyland again. And this time, I’ll just read it to you quickly. I had lunch by Tom Sawyer Island, then headed to the place I knew it would be the end of my journey, the very center of the park hub in front of the castle, where stands the bronze statue of Walt and Mickey.
Created by fable Disney, sculptor, Blaine Gibson. Now an official legend Gibson is the man responsible for every American president, the hall of presidents, and most of the pirates in the pirates of the Caribbean for Disney files. This spot in Disneyland is the Holy of Holies. I took a seat on one of the benches, just in front, just in front and to the right of Walt and the mouse that had made him famous.
Then I thought.
And I thought about the prior 14 years of my life, my breathless pursuit of, of something impact creativity, legacy identity. I wasn’t sure I thought about, and he goes on to talk about Chris Olson who helped me drywall his first little, little, uh, business. And then he tells all these memories and then he says this.
And I thought about Marie, the 65 year old woman who worked at our reception desk, the woman who on the day that I had to clean out my office had looked deep into my eyes and said, God is about to explode in your life. I smiled, as I realized how right she had been, I looked up at Walt. He seems so happy.
So calm. Like everything had been a breeze, a walk in the park, then something caught my attention. It was a woman in her adolescent daughter, Cameron hand walking toward me with big smiles. Oh, I thought I’ve been spotted. It happens a lot. Fans will spot me somewhere and ask for a picture and autograph I’ve gotten used to it in the years.
Since I first put myself at the front of a veggie tales video. Some want to tell me stories or introduced me to their kids. Other simply want to say, thanks. Watching the smiling mother and daughter approach, I quickly switched into gracious fan reception mode and smiled back. I was after all the creator of VeggieTales, it was part of my job.
Excuse me. The woman said, would you take a picture of us with Walt?
Choke. They weren’t there for me. They didn’t even know me from Adam. I was just a stranger on a bench, a stranger who could take a picture of them with their real hero. Walt Disney, I cheerfully obliged, snapping their pictures. They stood beaming in front of the bronze likeness of the man who had inspired them.
Thank you so much. They said, and hurried away. I turned back to continue my thinking only to find somebody else already sitting in my spot. I scan the circle of Brent benches, not a single open space. I couldn’t help, but smile. As I looked up at Walt, well, I guess it’s time to go. I said, then turn and headed toward the front gate wall would be Walt.
And I would not know even the next Walt or the Christian, Walt. And that was for the first time in my life. Fine with me. I love what that lady said. God is about to explode in your life. This is at the moment of his failure. This is when he feels rock bottom. I don’t know where you are today with some of you undoubtedly.
Or identifying with the feeling, ah, life is just overwhelming. That things are not what I thought. I I’m struggling with who I am, what I am, where I’m going, what I’m going to be able to kind of am I going to be able to hold what I have? Let me just say this to you. If God is allowing you to be humbled, God is willing to explode in your life.
God wants us to find our joy and satisfaction in him. It is pride that indeed, that, that encourages us to feel that we can find it somewhere else. The Bible mercies us by humbling us, and there are two ways that God uses. Often he will not choose the first. If we choose the second, the first way God humbles us is to just let all the things that we are trying to find our identity in, or some of those things begin to be a faulty foundation and crumble, and he brings us down.
We’ve elevated ourself. He lets us see what’s real. God does humble us. I would say if you walked with God for any amount of time, you have probably experienced that.
The kind, God also offers another way. He says in first Peter chapter five, he says humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. And then he says this bye. Casting your cares on him. What’s he saying the way that we humble ourselves under God is saying, Lord, I’m not going to carry on my issues. I’m going to intentionally every day, I’m going to bring them to you.
And what happens if you don’t, you may not think you’re growing in pride. You may think you’re going in fear. You may think you’re growing in anxiety, which will probably be true. But what also is going on is you are acting a spirit of independence. I’ve got it. I’m so busy. I don’t have time to pray. I mean, come on.
I got work to do. I got stuff calling for me. I got, I’ve got so much on me and he says, well, go ahead. But what you’re going to find is you can be a carrier. Oh, you can be a caster. And a castor is a person who humbles themselves, unders God and says, Lord, I may think I can carry it, but I know better given this to you.
I got these meetings tomorrow. Here they are one, this one, a 10 is this one? This one is 11 tomorrow. This one is it to Lord. I’m praying through everyone because Laura , we can humble ourselves. The other thing we can do is to remember who we are. I was talking w in a context of a few of us with a young woman in our church who attended one of the two most prestigious academic institutions in our, in our nation.
Um, these are where the brainiacs go. And she was talking about, she knew Christ. She had known the Lord younger, went to school. Um, and she said, I didn’t realize how much my brain and my intellect was my identity until for the first time in her life, she actually had to drop a class because she was in danger of failing and it rocked her world.
And she said, I didn’t really. Displace that feeling until, and she talked about being in, in a, uh, training class. We have here called people, helping people, but basically the design of it is to have you look at your own heart and because you can’t help somebody else know their heart until you know your own.
And she talked about how the truth that set me free was who I am in Christ. My identity. That I am as the song, we sang a few moments ago that you are accepted and chosen that
when the sun sets you free free, you’re free. Indeed. What does that mean? You’re free from being on the line. He’s she’s it, the song says when the sun sets you free, you are free. Indeed. And what’s the next refrains. I’m a child of God. I’m accepted. I’m chosen. He wanted me.
You’re not going to be free by getting that new, beautiful house. You’re not going to be free from the voices by getting that next promotion. You’re not going to be free by, by running away with somebody because they make you feel good. And, and you think, well, this, this fling will do it. You’re going to be free.
When your identity is really seeped with the reality that you’re a child of God. If you’ve embraced Jesus Christ as your savior, he wants you. He knows you. He loves you. He, he, he, he desires to pour into your life. What nothing else can do. Our only part is to look at things realistically and say, you know what?
God. I’m dependent. I can’t do this on my own. I need to yield to you the Lordship of my life. I need to find my identity in you right now. If you’re in a position and I know a lot of people feel they’re not, but if you’re in a position where you feel well, if things are not so Rocky, I mean, I see a lot of good going well, watch out because when we grow strong, We can grow proud.
And when we grow up proud, we have already begun to leave. God, God may have to bring something in to, and I’m not doing this as a warning. I think it’s a mercy. I thank God. The most humbling experiences of my life when God made me most aware of my inadequacies. When I would say these are the times of my life, I absolutely feel like an abject failure.
I feel in those moments, I saw reality and I was overwhelmed with the love of God, who I was, what I am in him. I wouldn’t trade those failures for anything. They are my ultimate successes. And you know, if you know what I’m talking about, if you’re, if you know the Lord, let’s pray, Lord,
thank you that you want us. Thank you that you don’t just let us go. Thank you. That
you freed Phil. Vishner
the great success of this man’s life is not VeggieTales is that he’s growing more and more into the joy of being loved by God. Because you were willing to explode in his life, in that season when he felt most like a failure, Lord, thank you that you do that with us. Thank you. That you give us the grace and the opportunity to avoid some false by humbling ourselves.
Lord, thank you. That you Love us in jesus’ name. Amen. I go in peace to love and serve and enjoy the Lord.