Lesson #10: Make Jesus the King of every aspect of your life, especially the parts you grasp tight control over.
“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Obadiah 1:3
My BSGs (Bible Study Girls) now know each others’ longstanding mini-kingdoms that we like to control. When we are asked questions in various studies about our sins we laugh and say, “Oh, I can answer that for you!” This is why I love these ladies. We have opened our lives to each other in trust. And, we expect to be held accountable for growth in our troublesome areas. I, for one, had an epiphany a month ago about one of my mini kingdoms which brought me a bit of embarrassment along with conviction.
These last few months I’ve really struggled with how angry I become when I head out for all my errands. My irritation and annoyance with people in general was heightened with the COVID related rules and fears. I’d see a person alone in their car with a double breather mask on and wanted to roll down my window and scream at them. The one-way rules for the grocery store aisles frustrated me when I found myself accidently going the wrong way and got dirty looks. People were either too slow, too lazy, or too dumb – in my opinion. I kept it all bottled up and would arrive home in turmoil. And then one day, while doing my Bible study, it hit me. My problem was pride.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
Yep, I was being the queen of “Miss Know It All” land. And I had to admit it to my group. It wasn’t until that conviction hit me that God could then begin the re-building process. I’m now praying each day I leave my house that the Holy Spirit will remind me to live as a loving, compassionate, forgiving person.
In this week’s small Bible book, we hear from the prophet Obadiah. As prophets go, he’s not all that well known. In fact, there’s quite a lot of disagreement about who he was and about what time period he prophesized. But what we do know was he came to warn the people of Edom about their prideful ways.
Edom was a city from the line of Esau. You might remember him as Jacob’s brother. And ever since Jacob illicitly received Isaac’s family blessings there was enmity between the two brothers. One of the great, longstanding feuds began that day.
So, hundreds of years later we find ourselves in Edom, who conspired with Judah’s enemies to overthrow Jerusalem. And God is not happy.
“Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD.” Obadiah 1:4
Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s people, some of whom actually had the cloud of God living among them, attempt to take control over every situation. They conspired with enemies, took the opposite path, demanded earthly kings, worshipped other idols to bring favorable weather. We have the benefit of looking through the entire Bible and shaking our head in disbelief. “Why didn’t they just do what God directed them to do?” one of my Bible study questions asked. I can only look at my own life and ask myself the same question.
“For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16
When we build up our own mini kingdoms, be it about finances, our care and keeping of our children, our jobs, our social life, our health, and so on we seek to place ourselves higher than God. Our pride tells us that we know better.
And the Edomites thought they knew best. They were going to destroy Judah through alliances with her enemies. Meanwhile the Edomites, who built their city high up in the mountains as sturdy fortresses, were sure that no harm would come to them.
“But how Esau will be ransacked, his hidden treasures pillaged!” Obadiah 1:6
The thing about God though is that so often instead of an outright destruction of our mini kingdoms we get hit from the flank. We demand or beg to be in charge and He sits back and says, “Ok, have at it.” And we think we’ve won the battle. And then the stress comes, the destroyed relationships, lost sleep, ulcers, and more. And yet some of us hold on tighter because our pride won’t let us release our drawbridges and welcome God into our kingdom.
When we hold on to the sin of pride it creates ripple effects throughout our entire lives – and maybe even beyond. We pass down family hatreds and attitudes toward others. We teach our children to “never give an inch” in situations. We divorce because we couldn’t see the other side and therefore create broken homes.
My friends, the people of Israel were promised, while still in the desert, a great year of Jubilee. In that year, all debts would be forgiven, all slaves set free. It was to be a year-long celebration of God’s love for His people. And it never happened. Before they could even get to the promised land, they decided they knew better. Thousands of young men died because they wouldn’t trust the God who had taken care of them. The God who created food out of nothing and gave water from a stone.
God wants you to experience His Jubilee – a freedom from the slavery that pride brings. Jesus paid the price to release us. It’s already done. It ourselves that have re-shackled our hearts and minds. I read this story the other day that I hope will bring you your own epiphany.
“There was a farmer that got word that one of his sheep had been stolen and lie dead in a ditch outside town. He headed out to retrieve the carcass. Once he arrived, he realized the sheep wasn’t dead. It appeared as though its legs were still bound together although no rope remained. The farmer called to the sheep to get up but the animal laid there as though unable. He smacked the sheep on the backside to get up and yet it remained. He realized the sheep still thought he was tied up. So, the farmer pulled the animal’s legs apart to show him he was no longer bound. And finally, the sheep hopped up and ran up the hill.”
Are you that sheep? Jesus has already released you from all bondage. But are you still acting, out of pride, as though you are still a prisoner inside your own mini kingdom?