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Thursday 8 August 2019

Cheap Seats and Sticky Feet

James 4:13-16

Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

We have two sons. They are not that far apart in age and both into the same things. They both like to watch Paw Patrol and play super heroes. They both almost always want to pretend to be Hulk and have the same friends. They generally don’t have a problem sharing.

However, the fights in our home are always predictable. One has a blue cup, one has a green; disaster. One has 20 baked beans on their plate and one looks like they have less; absolute nightmare. One gets to sit on the bench, one on the big boy chair; don’t even go there!

There is something horribly innate in all of us to want to be bigger and better than the rest. Even non-competitive people will generally make a point on boasting over the point that “these things don’t bother me!” with an air of smug victory about them and a proud tone!

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall – Proverbs 16:18

The Message translation puts it this way;

First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Generally pride is the product of insecurity. The more we feel the need to self-publicise and let others know what we have achieved, the more we reveal a damaged understanding of who we are in God’s family and place in His Kingdom.

When we seat ourselves at the head of the table, we are following the lead of those who built the Tower of Babel, wanting to present ourselves as greater than all others. A high status was Satan’s most terrible ambition, highest climb, and worst fall with unimaginably devastating consequences. So far and destructive was his crash that now his main occupation is to trick us into doing likewise. All boasting in our own arrogant schemes is not only dangerous, but quite simple evil; it’s what God’s enemy does, not what His children should be doing!

Out of love, Jesus repeatedly taught against pride, once preaching,

“For all those that exalt themselves will be humbled, and those that humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11.

The mark of a great teacher is one who preaches with her or his life as well as words. Jesus always chose the place of lowest honour, time and time again. He understood that although the best seats in the house may have the best view, the cheap seats are where the action is, sticky feet and all!

True greatness is not about being seen by the world, putting your feet up and basking in everyone’s “likes”, “shares” and flattering comments. The kind of success that God wants for us is His own greatness overwhelming our life wherever we find ourselves, so much so that boasting about our own plans, schemes or successes seems totally unnecessary, irrelevant and insignificant.

“Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

Where we sit at the table of life does not reflect our identity, but where we think we deserve to sit does reflect our character. Our desire should be to ensure that wherever we sit, we make it our priority to let everyone around us know that God is right there at the Head.

Emma Carman, Sawyers Church Ministry Team

Sawyers Church
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