The Fisher’s Greenhouse in Strasburg, PA is one of the most tidy in the whole county. Amish Greenhouses don’t hire robots, otherwise I’d consider that, after hours, robots are scooting along the cement aisles suctioning any blossom, leaf or soil that has fallen from the thousands of plants. But, what we do see are workers busy watering, planting, cleaning and often joyfully singing hymns as they do their work diligently.
“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ ‘Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the LORD” (Obadiah 1:3,4). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
During this coronavirus pandemic period we’ve seen the good and the bad of the visible church and those in ministry. Many are seeking creative ways to minister. Marlin is a friend whose son is a pastor with a church of 400 in Columbus, Ohio. He told me his son has made the effort to call each family in the church to encourage them and express his care. That would be a lot of phone calls! John Keefer, a local pastor friend, has a weekly Zoom meeting so the dispersed church can feel somewhat connected during this time of isolation. We know there are many, many other commendable ways people are seeking to keep the light shining.
But there are those who are an embarrassment to be associated with the Christian faith and it’s so confusing to the watching world. A long-time “famous” televangelist has been seeking to profit from the fears by essentially selling snake oil with a claim it heals Covid 19. Several in the name it/claim it crowd have haughtily pronounced the end of the coronavirus. Some of these big time preachers have done very well profiting from religion and have their fancy cars, mansions and airplanes. They often convey such a smug pride and frankly I marvel at how many gullible people there are that help them stay in “business”. A verse from Jesus comes to mind, “they have received their reward” (Matthew 6:1-4).
But we are all subject to pride, especially leaders. John Stott stated, “The chief occupational hazard of leadership is pride.”
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” While pride is a sin, humility is a virtue, that once you think you have it, you’ve lost it. (Think on that one for a minute.)
Obadiah is the smallest book in the Old Testament having only one chapter with 21 verses. This is a prophecy against the Edomites, an ancient people who had descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother, and long-time enemies of God’s chosen people.
At the time of the Babylonian conquest the Edomites had rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem by her conquerors. (The hatred of Israel by her neighbors is ancient.) Psalm 137 was written during this time and states, “Remember O Lord what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. ‘Tear it down’ they cried, ‘tear it down to its foundations!’” (v.7) Obadiah was written to assure God’s people of His impending judgment on the Edomites.
Our daily verse indicates a timeless principle: pride deceives. This ancient people indeed had some distinct military advantages due to the seeming invincibility of their geographical position, which by all means was amazing. The cities of Edom were cut right into the face of the cliffs providing imposing natural defenses, which gave their inhabitants a sense of invulnerability.
They thought they could taunt the misfortunes of their neighbor Israel and remain untouched. They had declared, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” However the Lord declared, “I will bring you down” (v. 4) and the historical record indicates that He did just that.
Pride continues to deceive. The hard but valuable lessons from history are often ignored by the heart of a nation and the heart of an individual. Pride is a great deceiver.
Where is your source of hope and assurance today? In your education? Your position? Your financial plan? National defenses? Remember, the arm of flesh (yours or anyone else’s) will surely fail you!
Our only firm foundation is Jesus Christ. He alone is the Cornerstone. Today and everyday let us ever be mindful of pride’s deceitfulness! As God’s redeemed people let us humble ourselves before the Lord today. Let us remember His warning, “Pride goes before destruction” and hear His Word that directs His people to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up“.
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber