Love is unselfish and willing to lay down our life for the brethren. The brethren are those who God added to the body of Christ because they surrendered their will to him. He won’t put us in the body if our will isn’t surrendered.
I John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The opposite of laying down our lives for the brethren is being proud. The proud person feels entitled and that people owe them. When we’re saved, it’s not all about us but it’s about God and serving others. We’re of no value in our own selves. If we don’t have the love of God, what we have is nothing (I Corinthians 13:1-7). If we lift up Christ, he said he will draw all men to him – not to ourselves. People that are proud have “closed their notebook” and think no one can teach them anything. Anyone that’s saved can teach something they’ve learned to us.
God used a donkey to talk to Balaam. God told Balaam not to go to King Balak (Numbers 22:12-33) but the king’s men said they would promote him to great honor. Balaam finally started going on his donkey but she stopped because there was an angel with a sword in the path. Balaam beat the donkey and she asked why he hit her, then Balaam saw the angel. When someone speaks to us from God, we need to accept and learn from them. God’s word instructs, corrects, and rebukes. The proud person won’t take rebuke. We need to be more concerned about souls than about problems they may cause. It’s an indication that pride is working in us if we’re not willing to learn from everybody – to be instructed, corrected, or rebuked. Some trusted in themselves that they were righteous but despised others.
Luke 18:9-12 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Bitterness, unforgiveness, or grudges are because of pride. When we pray, we should first be thanking God for all he’s done for us, not praying like the publican about how good we are. We won’t see ourselves unless we’re willing to ask God to search us and see if there’s any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23-24). We have to ask God for grace and help.
Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
God used Samuel to speak to King Saul. He gave specific and clear instructions to kill all the Amalekites and animals.
I Samuel 15:1-3 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord…I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
The people and Saul spared Agag and the best of the animals.
I Samuel 15:7-9 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Saul lied that he obeyed the Lord’s commandment. The people tried to go a different way and the root cause was covetousness. Proud people won’t take blame but will blame someone else. Saul was king but he blamed the people.
I Samuel 15:13-15…Saul said…I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said…the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Saul was humble when God chose him. Since God has chosen us, we need to be sure we don’t get proud (lifted up in ourselves) or covetous (selfishly wanting something for ourselves, greedy).
I Samuel 15:17-23 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king…And the Lord…said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said…Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king…and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil…which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord…Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
God says rebellion is the sin of witchcraft. Proud people are rebellious against God. God hates pride and we need to do the same. If we see even a little pride or rebellion against God, we need to pray earnestly and repent to take care of it. Saul wasn’t sincerely repenting when he said he sinned.
I Samuel 15:24-26 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
Saul was proud and his motivation was what people thought about him. He lifted himself up and put the blame on the people. Our concern should be that we’re right with God and willing to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Things that come from pride:
- Finding fault in others but never see any faults in self. Fault finding is a spirit that comes from pride.
- Hardness with no understanding or mercy for others.
- Defensiveness comes from pride and it tries to make self better than another.
- Pride won’t see the needs all around because it is focused on self.
- Contention – only by pride comes contention (Proverbs 13:10).
Some questions to ask yourself to see if pride is working in you:
- Do you get irritated when corrected for your mistakes?
- Do you forget who blessed you with all you have? (The humble are thankful.)
- Are you prone to think you can do it all alone and don’t need the body?
- Is it difficult to take advice?
- Are you reluctant to seek advice? (Pride causes you to not seek advice or to get counsel from the pastor.)
- Do you have ingratitude or bitterness about anything?
- Do you compete to always be the best?
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)