03 May Moving from Pride to Humility

Those who know me best know I’m big into basketball. I love to play and watch anytime I can. Over the years, I’ve been able to play in a few different recreational leagues and several hundred pickup games at open gyms. I always found myself wanting to go ALL OUT in basketball. In fact, that’s exactly why my good friend gave me the nickname “Joshua ALLOUT Conklin”.

One year I was playing for a team that was off to a hot start. We were undefeated with a 4-0 record. I remember it had come time for us to play our next game, and I was actually coming off my best scoring game ever. By the grace of God, I had managed to score a whopping 17 points. OH YEAH!

Now, that may not sound like much, but to me it was a BIG deal. I mean, if you only know how hard I had to work to get each one of those buckets, considering that at 5’3” tall, I was always the smallest guy on the court. I guess you could say that I was feeling prideful and confident going into this game.

As the game got underway, both teams started strong. I wasn’t doing much, but I was having fun. However, what happened next, in the final moments of the second quarter, would change everything.

As the shot clock was winding down, the other team stole the ball and was off on a two-man fast break. I sprinted as fast as I could to try to prevent them from taking the lead going into the second half.

As I stood there underneath the other team’s basket, I watched my opponent begin to throw the ball up over my head, and as I turned around to see where the ball went, that’s when I began to feel shoe strings graze over the side of my head…

Guys, I HAD JUST BEEN DUNKED ON! And not just any dunk. This guy had somehow managed to jump clean over my head to catch an amazing alley-oop pass, only to then SLAM the ball in with two hands. The gym went wild! People were screaming and falling on the floor laughing. All I could do was hang my head low and walk off the court as the buzzer went off signaling the end of the first half. We went on to lose that game by double digits and take our first loss of the season.

You see, I was so prideful coming off my best game ever that I didn’t approach the game with proper humility.

So many, including myself, were challenged and convicted as we talked through the topic of pride in week one of our Assassins series. As Pastor Mike preached, I began to think about how humility and pride are no strangers to one another.

John R.W. Stott, a remarkably humble man and 20th century Christian leader, said it like this, “Pride is your greatest enemy; humility is your greatest friend.”

Pride and arrogance are conspicuous among the rich, the powerful, the successful, the famous, and celebrities of all sorts, and even some religious leaders. But they are also alive and well in ordinary people, including each of us. Few of us realize how dangerous they are to our souls and how greatly these emotions hinder our intimacy with God and ability to love others.

Humility, on the other hand, is often seen as weakness, and few of us know much about it or pursue it. For the good of our souls, we need to gain a clearer understanding of pride and humility and of how to forsake the one and embrace the other. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through pride that our enemy, the devil became the devil.”

Make no mistake about it: pride is the great sin. It is the enemy’s most effective and destructive tool. Chances are good that most of us do not see pride in our lives. For while it is easy to see pride in others, it is very difficult to see it in ourselves. Do you want to learn how to be humble and lay down your pride? Let’s look at Jesus and follow His example!

This week, we’ll continue this journey of looking at dangerous emotions that can take us out. Join us for week 2 of Assassins – They’ll Take You Out as we tackle the topic of fear. We have a seat for you! While you’re at it, ask a friend to join you!

Josh Conklin
Sanford Campus Pastor

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