Sunday, February 1, 2009
While reading the Bible I came across this little part of Proverbs at 6:16-19 that was titled "6 things the Lord hates, 7 an abomination." The list seemed like a pretty interesting one, and so for the next month or so the postings in this 'Sunday Sermon' series will highlight and break down each item. The very first item listed was 'haughty eyes'. Taken literally, haughty eyes would be those which are blatantly and disdainfully proud. They speak to someone who has excessive self-esteem. They suggest some assumed superiority or loftiness, showing scorn for anyone deemed socially inferior. They would imply a claim by the person who has these haughty eyes of more consideration or importance than is actually warranted them. The Reverend Dennis Marquardt has said that the list of 7 starts with 'Haughty Eyes' because "pride is the foundation for sin, it is at the root of all sins in our lives." It is very important that we all remember that we could accomplish nothing without the blessings of the Lord. There are two obvious places in modern American culture that we have seen the manifestations of individuals giving glory to the Lord when they have been blessed with such accomplishments. One is in the world of sports, where a number of athletes while being interviewed following a victory begin their interviews by giving honor and glory to the Lord, some even directly naming him as Jesus Christ. They rightly give this acknowledgement first before moving on to speak of their own physical deeds and their own heroic moments in the game or event. They do this because these individuals understand that without the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon them, blessings of health, talent, opportunity, perseverance, and many others, the athlete would never have been in this victorious position to begin with. Former Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame defensive lineman Reggie White was famous for leading other players in prayer on the field immediately after a game ended, before any other interviews or acknowledgements, a habit that has spread to many other athletes today. Another area where we sometimes see these acknowledgements to the Lord manifested are at awards ceremonies. We occasionally here an honoree begin their acceptance of the award by giving that credit to the Lord for the exact same reasons that the athletes give them. Something to think about. How often do you give public credit to the Lord for your own accomplishments? How often have you been honored, or more likely how often has someone simply told you that you did a good job? How often has someone thanked you for helping them with something like shoveling a sidewalk of snow, or baking an item for a party, or carrying their groceries to the car, or helping them with their homework? Every one of these types of events is an opportunity for you the believer to give credit to the Lord. "Well thank the Lord that I was here to help, it was my pleasure" or "Hey, it's only by the blessings of God that I'm able to do this, why not share it?" The bottom line is that we need to begin to recognize and acknowledge God's presence in our everyday lives, and be willing to do so publicly. We need to give glory to His son, Jesus Christ, for our ability to share the love that allows us to look beyond ourselves and help others. We need to be willing to acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in inspiring us and sustaining us in our efforts when our own minds and muscles and wills become weak. We should never see ourselves as better than anyone else, out of both love and compassion for others, but also out of the knowledge that there but for the grace of God go all of us. You know and are secure in where you are today. Your social standing, your health, your home, your family, your job, your financial situation. Every single one of these things are yours today because they are gifts from God. Every single one of these things could be gone tomorrow as well. If you don't believe, look around you at the larger world. How many people lost their homes, their possessions, and even their loved ones in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, and accidents in the past year? How many healthy people went to the doctor and found out that they had a disease that was likely going to take their life, going from an expectation of decades to live and suddenly finding they only had months or weeks? How many people lost fortunes due to financial bubbles bursting or from the greed manifested by fraud? How many were themselves or had family members murdered? All of these types of events, and many, many more that you can think of, take lives from a place of security and certainty to one of desperation in the blink of an eye, often with little or no warning. You have no business looking down on anyone else in any situation in the world. We all need to lower our haughty eyes when we feel that expression manifesting itself, and raise them again with a renewed acknowledgement of God's grace and gifts in our lives. They are many, and they are present in every life. So rather than these 'haughty eyes' which the Lord hates, we need to all do our best to ensure that our own eyes reflect peace, love, and compassion as often as possible.