Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 12, 2015


Pride is a blessing robber


Pride goes with power and affluence like fleas go with a dog. The rich and famous often think they are a cut above common people. The bank president does not go to lunch with the bank’s custodian. The hotel owner does not socialize with the maids who clean the hotel’s rooms. People are expected to know their “place” and respect those with a higher rank in life.

This is not a modern idea. People thought like this, for example, in the days of the prophet Elisha. Naaman, the commander of Syria’s army, exercised great power, second only to that of the king. The General was used to having people quickly obey his commands.

But Naaman had a problem he could not solve. He had leprosy. And there was no known cure for the dread disease. His wife’s slave girl suggested he seek out Elisha of Israel for a cure. Desperate for help, Naaman asks the king for a letter of recommendation. Securing it, he shows up at Elisha’s home with his entourage of horses and chariots and impressive gifts for the prophet.

Elisha was not impressed. Instead he felt the pompous commander should be taught a lesson. So he refuses to welcome the proud general into his home. Rather than speaking directly to Naaman, Elisha sends his assistant out with instructions to Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman was enraged by Elisha’s lack of hospitality and the prophet’s solution for healing.  He saw no reason to bathe in the Jordan when he had cleaner rivers back home in Syria. His pride nearly cost him the healing God was ready to give him. His servants saved the day by encouraging Naaman to obey the prophet. So he humbled himself, obeyed Elisha and was immediately healed of his leprosy.

Pride is costly. It can rob us the blessings that God wants to give us. When we are tempted to be prideful, it helps to remember a beautiful principle of the Kingdom of God: Blessing follows obedience. Foolish pride can deprive us of the thing we need the most. Humbly obeying God opens the floodgates of heaven, allowing us to receive God’s blessings.

Until we are willing to “come down off our high horse,” there are lessons we can never learn and joys we cannot receive. I had been married for several years before it dawned on me that someone other than me was cleaning the toilet in our home. That someone was my wife. Meditating one day on the humility of Jesus, who stooped to wash his disciples’ feet, my heart was stabbed awake by the awareness that I had expected my wife to do the toilet cleaning. Ashamed of myself, I began to share this mundane chore. Humility helped me overcome foolish pride.
          Reporters and city officials gathered at a Chicago railroad station one afternoon in 1953. They were waiting to meet the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner. A few minutes after the train came to a stop, a giant of a man with bushy hair and a large mustache stepped from the train. Cameras flashed. City officials met him with hands outstretched, telling him how honored they were to meet him.
          The man thanked them but looking over their heads, asked if he could be excused for a moment. He quickly walked to the side of an elderly black woman struggling with two large suitcases. He picked up the bags and escorted the woman to a bus. Helping her aboard, he wished her a safe journey. As he returned to those who had greeted him he apologized, "Sorry to have kept you waiting."
          The man was Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary doctor who had spent his life helping care for the poor in Africa. In response to Schweitzer's action, one person said with admiration to a reporter, "That's the first time I ever saw a sermon walking."

Humility may be rare but it is the only cure for the pride that blocks our knowing God and receiving the blessings he wants to give us.  +  +  +