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Preeminent Domains

June 18, 2009
Last week I was impressed to begin keeping a guy named John in prayer. I’ve never met him, but for a number of years, he had been an associate pastor at CRs church in Kalamazoo. About three weeks ago, he was unexpectedly asked to resign. On the basis of the information that CR has offered up over the course of the past several months concerning this pastor, it sounds as though spiritual pride and/or a desire for being held in high regard were increasingly becoming a hinderance. This is a spiritual contidion to which I can well relate as I’ve wrestled with both of these in the past and must continuously guard against their reviving. Such attitudes have the tendancy to set up residence in our heart without our being aware of it. Once rooted, the cause us to begin taking our eyes off from Jesus and begin campaigning for the promotion of self. We unwittingly begin working to set up an “autonomous region” so to speak, in the kingdom of God where we strive to generate a following.
The underlying root to this is pride. In my past, unchecked spiritual pride, mingled with a hidden desire to be held in high esteem by the saints in my ambience (at the time, I was blissfully unaware of either problem) led to a lengthy season in which I became profoundly backslidden. The Lord did a complete restoration in my life back in April of 2004, (the thing was done suddenly and I am forever greatful) but the memory of that dark season serves as a constant reminder of how dangerous such attitudes can be. During that time, I married a lady whose salvation was suspect and all of our children were born into this world. Many of the complexities in this household today; where deep divisions reside in the spiritual realm, are a direct result of that season of rebellion.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Philippians 3:15 “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
The desire for preeminence is something that, in our own ability, we will usually not see its rising up. It can be hard to detect in others and almost impossible to detect in ourselves. It will oftentimes disguise itself as godly zeal or even an advanced level of spirituality, however, the primary driver is a desire for our name to be recognized. A desire that, in time, will eclipse our concern for those around us. We’ll unwittingly desire positions; even if this is detremental to those around us. Here’s a simulation of this. Suppose that I desired to be the pastor of our church. (I don’t) It’s not a move mandated by the Lord, it’s simply timbob wanting to be on a pedestal. It would lead to manuverings designed to undermine the pastor and convince others in the church to “consider me.” Forget the fact that I would be a terrible pastor (seriously; I’m aloof and I “know” that I’m not called to such an office.) If this endeavor were to succeed, it would hurt the entire fellowship as there was now a person behind the pulpit who “did not belong there.”
III John 9-10 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
This man, Diotrephes,  desired to be the star of the show; to the point that it was a hinderance to the well-being of the other saints. This is “not” to say that all desire for position is of such a nature. The apostle Paul explained that “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” I Timothy 3:1) If a persons desire stems from a sincere love for Jesus and a desire to serve, it can be a very good thing. But once “self” begins to enter the fray, it can lead to certain calamity down the road. In time, piritual pride enters the equation and the needs of others begin to take a back seat to the maintaining of office. (The third chapter of I Timothy offers up sound advice to those who hold office, on maintaining an attitude of humility.) The danger of embarking on a path of self-promotion is something that Paul warned the Ephesian elders would be a problem. in this well known passage:
Acts 20:28-30 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
The desire for preeminence. In short it’s a seeking of worship; a desire to be recognized by our contemporaries as being one who is “above average.” It’s a broadening of the phylacteries and a making of lengthy prayer for the express purpose of having folks pass by and say “what a spiritual person.” It’s the very thing that caused Lucifer to began entertaining thoughts of “look at me.” He then embarked on an ambitious plan to overthrow the very one who had created him. This initial sin of pride has subsequently led to every single injustice and lament that the world has ever known.
Isaiah 14:13-15 “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of god: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most high.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Tragically, spiritual pride has led to the downfall of many and continues to hold unsuspecting captives. We must give all diligence to ensure that we don’t fall into its grasp. My season of rebellion was preceeded by an attitude of being “too spiritual to fall.” I would have never admitted it; even to myself, but it was present nonetheless. A couple of years ago, Al McNeely (a saint from my navy days) told about a navy chaplain whom he led to Jesus. This was a man who had the theological credentials to be comissioned as a chaplain, and yet was not saved. This happens all the time. What’s fascinating is that, despite the spiritual pride that would accompany such an office, the Lord granted him repentance to the acknowledging ot the truth. (Bro Al; I can only vaguely remember you talking about this. Please feel free to offer additional information or correction.)
Well I’ll close for now. The passage below highlights the ultimate danger of spiritual pride and pursuing preeminence. The “many” that Jesus refers to are rehearsing their accomplishments and are “surprised” to learn their true spiritual state. This should keep all of us on our face before the Lord. Blessings always in Jesus name.
Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
I Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth gract to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
 
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9 comments

  1. Thank you, and I know you know cause you know…

    Blessings to you my friend.

    Debs


  2. I have read this several times now…sorry to leave two comments….but this…

    “The “many” that Jesus refers to are rehearsing their accomplishments and are “surprised” to learn their true spiritual state. This should keep all of us on our face before the Lord. Blessings always in Jesus name.”

    This should keep all of us on the our face before the Lord…is there anywhere else to be? Thank you.


  3. Great post, Timbob

    Pride is so insidious. May God protect us from this. It’s amazing how we, who have so little to take pride in, jump so readily into this snare. If any man boast, let him boast in the Lord. We’ve been pulled out of the worst, nastiest, vilest ditches, and as soon as God gets us cleaned up, the first thing we seem to want to do is defile ourselves all over again by slathering ourselves with the worst of the muck–pride. Thanks for the warning, Timbob.

    Love in Him, Cindy


  4. Hi Deb. Indeed there is no other place to be except before the Lord Jesus. Thanks for making mention of this as we’re in an age where distractions and commitments often tempt us to trim back on our time with the Lord. How timely the old song is; “I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR.”

    Thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings always in Jesus name.


  5. Hi Cindy. Thanks again for the post that I read last night concerning Isaiah 32. We’re in a time when one can sense in their spirit the shortening of days and urgency in the ambience.

    Your observation above is really important. We grow in the Lord and then want to climb right back into the muck of pride. A few months ago, I heard a preacher state “the more we grow spiritually, the greater danger pride becomes.” I heard that and thought “Oh NO!” But I knew that he was right. My past problems came directly from having an attitude of “I got this.”

    Praise God for his longsuffering mercies toward us. The season of rebellion that I went through was a very painful lesson. And yet, had it not happened, a much worse thing may have developed; that being an impenetrable wall of pride. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Blessings always in Jesus name.


  6. Greetings Timbob,

    My husband has mentioned several times a quote he heard from an old time preacher which says that “prIde is the besetting sin of generation. It is one of the signs that is mentioned concerning with the last days.

    2Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    Even a proud look is something that the Bible declares the Lord hates. Out of the six things the Lord hates, it’s the first thing mentioned.

    Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
    Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

    My husband brought out something recently in a Thursday night Bible study that I thought was good too. He gave a definition of modesty as “humility expressed in our manner of dress.” If we dress in such a way that our clothing is so ornate and showy or is too tight and revealing to the point of being distracting, we are drawing more attention to ourselves than to God. I know there have been times where I felt God convict me about something I was wearing, and I had to go and change my clothes.

    Hope this all makes sense. I know some folks might think this a little bit “over the top”, but should not Jesus be Lord over every area of our life?

    It does all come down to “keeping our hearts with all diligence”, which is something that only an individual can do for himself. A pastor can’t keep your heart, a parent can’t do it, you have to do it. Thanks for this admonition to continually examine our hearts and be watchful of pride and other sins that would like to gain a foothold in our lives.

    Blessings,

    Carol


  7. Well said. . .


  8. Hi Carol. This is something that to many may seem legalistic, but the Lord placed it on my heart a few years ago. I used to routinely wear shirts that expressed affiliation for certain sports teams. The Lord began revealing that it was actually a form of idolatry and pride as wanting to be known to have an attachment to these teams. Consequently, I began to get rid of anything that worshipped an institution of this world.

    I now have quite a collection of christian T-shirts. Not the cheesy ones that are all too common; these are serious scripturally based quotes that, in a very few words, make a lasting point. (Truth that will not return void)

    Something happened shortly after CR came to Jesus. CR was beforetime a huge University of Michigan fan. His entire basement was painted maize and blue with the block letter “M” all over. One day, without my ever bringing up the topic, he began getting rid of it all. His wife was perplexed. CR explained to her “I think this is idolatry.” The Lord had brought him to the very same conclusion independant of any commentary from me.

    This also confirmed for me that this had come from on high and I wasn’t just trying to look spiritual. This is something that happens a lot. I’ll be in a passage of scripture and later when I talk to CR, I’ll learn that he was in a different passage of scripture, but on the same topic. These incidents happen both ways, all the time. like last week when we were hitting the streets in Kalamazoo. We met an elderly man in who is from Latvia. He lived through both Nazi occupation and Stalins purges. One thing that he mentions is that “this country isn’t the same as it was when I arrived 60 years ago. Later on, CR told how just that morning, he came across an old Last trumpet Newsletter, where David Meyer hd stated the very same thing; only using “30” years.

    Thanks so much for offering your thoughts and allowing me to discuss this. Blessings always in Jesus name.

    timbob


  9. Hi Born for battle. Thanks for dropping by.

    Blessings always in Jesus name.

    timbob



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