April 18, 2011

Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #4: Don’t Brag






     The following study is a journey through Lent, the forty-day pre-Easter season (which excludes Sundays).  Easter’s date, determined by the time of the first full moon after the Spring equinox, is very late this year.

     Traditionally, many Christians use Lent for self-examination and a renewal of their commitment to their faith.

     This year I  chose to do a devotional study on aspects of the Seven Deadly Sins, sins identified by very early Christians as key behaviors separating man from God and God’s will. The seven sins are not listed together in the Bible—each is, however, spoken about in various Scripture sites.





#1 Breaking the Mosaic Law

#2 Defying God or rebelling against God

#3 Acts of violence to others

#4 Failing to make proper sacrifices or worship

#5 Not living up to or reflecting God’s glory (not living as one created in God’s image)



SCRIPTURE: 2 Watch out for those people who behave like dogs! They are evil and want to do more than just circumcise you. 3 But we are the ones who are truly circumcised, because we worship by the power of God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t brag about what we have done, 4 although I could. Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else. 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses. 6 And I was so eager I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God. 7 But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. 8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11 so that somehow I also may be raised to life. (Philippians 2:3-11 (CEV))

 Devotion: “Don’t brag!”

     What a challenge. Any time I talk about things that I do, isn’t that bragging? It seems that the only way around the sin of pride is to always give the praise and glory to God.

     Whatever I do, God makes it possible. Whatever I accomplish, God allows it. Whatever I do, I can only feel good about it if it glorifies God. For Paul, All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. Paul goes on to spell out his desire to make himself acceptable to God by keeping the Law of Moses. And yet he points out that we are really acceptable to God through our faith in Jesus Christ alone.

     To me there is a fine line to be traveled here. On the one hand, we can avoid bragging and give God the glory for all that we are able to do. On the other hand, we can avoid bragging, be more silent, and let our actions reflect the lordship of Jesus in our lives. How easy it is to stray from either of these appropriate paths.

     When we view this aspect of sin, failing to offer appropriate worship to God, we tend to look at our Sunday morning behavior. Yet that misses the primary point: our challenge to praise God with every moment. The really appropriate worship happens throughout all of our living. Can we give God the glory in all we do? If we succeed, then the problem of pride will diminish.

     I still like to brag. I feel good about what I do. I want to believe that what I accomplish and what I have is all because of whom I am and my doing. The advertising world continually tells us how important we are—that we deserve to purchase whatever they offer. They don’t mention our responsibility to God. We are left to check in with God on our own. Along with this comes talk about entitlements. The very persons who speak against government entitlements are often the advertisers that encourage personal entitlement thinking. Rarely do we hear about entitlements that God expects for all—the basic needs of life.

     And where is pride in all of this? As soon as we divide peoples into groups or classes, pride enters. As soon as we think about our accomplishments without giving God thanks and honor, pride takes over. The best feelings in life should come when God lifts up our neighbor who is in need—either through us or through one of our other neighbors. Things that happen through the power of the Holy Spirit drive us to authentic pride in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Loving God, we brag too much. We tend to brag that you love us more than other peoples. We tend to forget that you love all peoples. We tend to forget that we cannot do anything without your help. Help us place genuine feelings where they should be—in you. Amen.


To start at the beginning of this Lenten study on the Seven Deadly Sins, click on:

To read the previous devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #3: Taking Joy in Beating Others Down

To read the following devotion, Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Pride #5: Friend of the World or Friend of God?, click on:



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