8 Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
9 The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name's sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
If we would come to Jesus and repent of our sins, the first thing of which we must repent is our pride. That's a hard thing to let go, because our pride is something that defines us. Our pride gives us confidence that we can overcome great obstacles. Our pride gives us a sense of self-worth. Our pride gives us courage in the face of opposition. Our pride feels like honor and glory--even when it is simply selfishness and greed. Our pride makes us feel like a leader, makes us feel like we are wise. Yes, pride seems like a good thing, and we are loath to give it up--and yet, it is the very thing that stands in the way of us truly repenting of our sins and believing in the gospel of Christ.
Look at the juxtaposition in today's verses. In verse 8, David reminds us that the Lord is good and upright. But the Psalmist immediately tells us that BECAUSE God is good and upright, He teaches sinners the right way to go. Isn't God the Righteous Judge? (2 Timothy 4:8) Wouldn't a Righteous Judge rather judge sinners than teach them? Not our God! Our God would much rather call people to repentance than see them perish for their sins. (2 Peter 3:9) And so David goes on to mention what we must do in order to learn from the Lord our God: we must be HUMBLE to be guided in justice and to learn God's way.
12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
14 "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."
Humility and submission to God's will and to God's way is what helps us to see that God's paths are mercy and truth, that His covenant and His testimonies are for our sakes and to His glory. We are so headstrong and "independent" that we refuse to believe that we could ever gain anything from surrendering to God's ways, and yet it is in doing so that we find new strength and new courage. And when we face adversity and persecution, what good is our pride?
Ah, but there's the rub! In our prosperity, we become complacent and prideful, and so we rely less and less upon the Lord. We hold our own success in higher esteem than we hold service to God. Then, when even the least tragedy strikes, we scramble around for a solution. In the depths of our despair, we finally turn to God for help. Prayer and submission to God become our spare tires on the road of our lives, only used when we need a patch to get us to the next rest stop. And as soon as it seems we are on our way safely again, we abandon God by the side of the road. But as the Bible often reminds us, in order to keep God's covenant, we are to humble ourselves daily and submit to His mercy and grace.
11 "Give us this day our daily bread.
12 "And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors."
Forgiveness entails laying aside our pride and welcoming others as equals--nay, as our honored guests! Humility is what enables us to see that we ARE sinners and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Humility is what allows us to be the sheep who are guided by our loving Shepherd. Humility is what opens our eyes to God's teachings and gives us the understanding to become His loving children.
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Would we be great? Then we must become as little children at the feet of our Master, listening to His instruction, submitting to His will, following where He leads, guided by His Spirit. And we cannot do that if we cling so tenaciously to our pride.
As David says, we must ask God to pardon our sins--especially our greatest sin: pride. And we do not ask the Lord to forgive us for OUR sakes but for HIS. For, whatever becomes of us, whatever plans He has for us as His children, it is all to His glory, all to His honor, all for His name. So long as we humble ourselves and follow our God, then He will be glorified throughout our lives--and that, dear friends, should be all the glory we seek.
I know for a fact that in my own life, those days when I am most headstrong about following my own way are the very days when I feel most distant from God. Those are the days when my mind and my heart are closed up, then my eyes do not see with faith and my ears do not hear His still, small voice. But when I humble myself, when I turn to Him and allow Him to truly reign, I find peace and strength and wisdom. For the past week I had struggled with a message to share with our congregation, and then yesterday, when I laid it at His feet and said, "Please, forgive me and guide me, Lord," then He was faithful and showed me with utter clarity what I must do. That is the Lord God who has chosen us to serve Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
It is tempting to think that we need to be self-sufficient, that perhaps God does not understand the struggles we face daily. But, dear brothers and sisters, there is no need to face this world with our own pride and seek our own strength, because God is faithful to provide us with all the courage we need, to give us wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5), to lead us in paths of righteousness (Psalms 23:3), to lift us up on wings as eagles. (Isaiah 40:31) All of those things He can and will give us, but only if we humble ourselves and seek His way. Therefore, let us first of all repent of our pride and seek God's kingdom and God's righteousness above all things. Let us be humble as little children to receive the instruction of the Righteous One. Then, as our Savior reminds us, all these things--all the wisdom and redemption, all the glory and salvation, all the strength and life--shall indeed be added unto us, all in His precious name. Alleluia!
Blessed Lord God, outside my window is sunshine after the rain, and I am reminded of how faithful You are. You have placed the sun in the sky, and you allow rain to fall to bring life to barren land. You have given us the Water of Life in Christ Jesus Your Son, and it is through Him that we must find our own glory and honor. Therefore, Father, accept my submission, humble me and teach me Your ways. Show me how to lay aside my own arrogance and to seek Your righteousness and Your justice. Forgive me my greatest sin of pride, and lead me as a little lamb to be washed in the blood of the spotless Lamb of God, always to Your eternal glory. Amen.