1 Corinthians 1: 28-30 “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

     Everyone likes to think that they got to where they are by their own hard work and effort.  We pride ourselves in what we have done for ourselves. I  climbed to the top of my hill and I did it by myself.  I’m so good!  It’s so easy to forget the help my parents gave me through my upbringing.  It’s so easy to forget that my wife was there every step of the way.    It’s so easy to forget the encouragement of teachers and friends.  Sometimes, it’s so easy to ‘forget’ the outpouring of God’s grace and healing especially when we feel like congratulating ourselves on a life well lived.  A boastful tongue, swollen with self pride leaves little room in the mouth for humble words of thanks to those we depend upon and to His grace working in our lives. 

     A boastful tongue has no memory.  Jesus confronted the Pharisees about their idea of the what truth really was;  “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  (John 8:31,32) In their false self-pride they had a terrible problem with their memory and as a result could not see their true spiritual condition;  “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33)  Clearly they had ‘forgotten’ the generations of bondage in Egypt from which God delivered them.  They would not see that they lived under Roman occupation.  This lack of memory and blindness eventually lead the chief priests to embrace this world and its king; “But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’!” (John 19:15)

     Why did the religious leaders have this hate for Jesus?  What was it about Jesus that made them so dead set against Him?   Jesus  was an affront to all their self-righteous achievements.  They had carved out a place for themselves by their own efforts and they saw Him as a threat; “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:48)  They did not fear God.   They did fear the Romans and were fearful of ‘loosing their place’.  That Jesus, a simple carpenter from a small village called Nazareth born in humble circumstances was causing such a stir among the common people.  Jesus was driving the religious people crazy!  For the religious establishment,  Jesus was clearly  the bottom of the barrel.

     Jesus warns us about the self centeredness of the Pharisees and the world;  “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)  Pride, fear of man, self-centeredness and self-righteousness all work in us like hidden leaven to spoil our attitude and cripple our heart.  This yeast or leaven will eventually, if left unchecked turn us away from God’s truth and His way.    Scripture tells us; “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)  Many sad and lonely people struggle daily as they make their own way in their world that has no king but Caesar! It happened in the religious establishment of the Pharisees day and it happens in our churches.  Remember Jesus was talking to His disciples when He warned of this leaven.

     When I strip away all my pretense, when I dig down through all my self-pride and false sense of accomplishment, when I look at my grubby self-righteousness, when I take a good look at my mistakes and how God worked out the best in my worst I come to the bottom of my barrel.  Thank God that as I scrape around the bottom of my hollow empty boastful vessel, as my cup bangs up against the empty sounding hardened walls I find my hope and my King.  Up comes Jesus!

Praise the Lord!
 

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