Reflections From the Shoe

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By Nate Champneys

“Pride goes before destruction.” Solomon said it perfectly with his God-given wisdom. And it amazes me, when you look at all the sin that so easily entangles us, how so much of it is rooted in pride. When I look at my own life, the sin of pride is vastly prevalent, and it is that sin of pride that I just can’t seem to get rid of. So many times I get into an argument with my wife, then it isn’t until later that I see my pride clearly. I have to say, “Honey, I’m so sorry. This really is simply my pride.”

I get so frustrated by my sin sometimes. I just look up and say to God, “Why aren’t you finished with me yet?!?” When you consider your own sin, isn’t it amazing that God still cares about us? The Psalmist says this:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

When you consider how small, insignificant, pitiful, and sinful we are compared to the glory, wonder, size and complexity of the universe that our creator God holds on the tip of His pinky, I can’t help but ask, “Why hasn’t God just stepped on us and squashed us already?” “Why doesn’t He simply put us out of our misery?” It makes me feel like bacteria on the bottom of a massive shoe when I compare myself to His glory.

I mentioned this in a prayer time at church a few weeks ago, and later on during this prayer time, a friend prayed: “Thank you Jesus for coming down to the bottom of this shoe!” Wow. That really puts things in perspective. The God of glory humbled himself and essentially became the equivalent of a bacterium on the bottom of a shoe and gave his life for us, the bacteria on the bottom of that shoe. Remarkable! It really is impossible to truly understand the love of God until you grasp to some degree the majesty and glory of God and are then able to see the heights that Jesus stepped down from.

Now THAT is the exact opposite of pride. That is the God we serve! 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, “Love is not proud.“ Pride is so contrary to who God is, yet it is one of those acceptable sins we excuse, even though it so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). We serve a God who is so glorious that in the same way He spoke the universe into existence, He could cause everything to go back to nothingness in an instant and simply start over. And yet he is mindful of us. God is the opposite of pride when he has every right to be prideful. This is love: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

The Creator God, who is so far beyond our comprehension, emptied Himself and “became a bacterium” in order to give His life for you. I don’t know about you, but this lavish love is the only thing that truly puts my pride into perspective.

“Thank you, Jesus, for coming to the bottom of this shoe!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


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By Brian Waple

In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus declares, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too” (NLT).

That’s a pretty strong indictment! How often have you read Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees and thought, “Man, I’m sure glad I’m not like them.” But how often do we read this and take an honest look at what motivates us? I’m certainly not saying that we are “filthy,” or “full of greed and indulgence.” However, I’m sure there are times when it’s our own human nature (rather than prayerful consideration and discernment) that drives a decision or particular course of action. I think part of what Jesus is saying is that before we allow ourselves to take a step that may have serious consequences, we need to take a moment and discern what is driving our decision. It might be good to ask the question, “How much of my human nature am I allowing to make the decision?”

In his book The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, Tim Keller uses Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians to illustrate what Keller calls the transformed view of self, or “simply thinking of myself less.” He shows that it’s often our pride that drives what we do and how we react, and it is our pride that makes us believe we need to perform to some standard to be validated in the eyes of men. Pride will drive greed and self-indulgence; pride will drive intolerance; pride will drive us to be critical; pride will make us selfish; pride will drive our desire to be accepted. But by putting our pride aside (that is, thinking of ourselves less), we can discover what it means to be open to where the Spirit is leading and be willing to see what God may be showing us.

Keller says, “In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” As believers, God is already well pleased with us, and doesn’t require any pride-motivated performance to gain His approval.

It is by thinking of ourselves less that we can truly be open to the needs of others. It is by laying aside our pride that we can be open and present to God’s leading. And, in turn, it is by trusting in God’s faithfulness that we can be assured that the inside of our cup is just as clean as the outside.

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