As I carry on with my study of Jeremiah I was struck by how timely today's verses were. I didn't want this post to be political in nature, but this post is about pride. And if there is one person in the world today who is a great example of someone who has an inordinate amount of it, it is Donald Trump. So I apologize for using him as my example, but his type of arrogance seemed to be exactly what Jeremiah 9:23 was talking about today.
Pride is a finicky thing. It can be exhibited as a feeling of well-being, like when you graduate from highschool or college for example. It can also be exhibited as a feeling of joy, like when we take pride in the accomplishments of others - like our children. Every milestone they achieve makes us happy and excited for them and yes - proud. These types of pride are not evil or sinful of themselves. One is based on completing something after working hard. It is a mixture of relief and satisfaction in getting the job done. The other is based on love and wanting the best for someone.
The type of pride God frowns on however is based on something totally different. We see and hear it almost every time Donald Trump speaks. It is a combination of arrogance and haughtiness. And yes, I realize the two are almost identical in meaning, but arrogance is excessive pride in oneself, combined with contempt for others. While haughtiness is a feeling of superiority over others, which is often exhibited by a person's demeanour and with disdain for everyone else.
Three Examples of Pride God Frowns On
In Jeremiah 9:23 we learn of three different types of pride God frowns on. Remarkably, these types of pride are also exhibited in certain types of people.
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Glory in Hebrew means "to praise, to shine, boast or be boastful". In this case the Lord says to the prophet Jeremiah that the wise man should not boast in his wisdom. In other words, don't brag about it, don't flaunt it over others. Don't think you know everything because you don't. Only God knows everything. Don't be arrogant.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
The same is true for the mighty man. This doesn't necessarily mean a person who is strong. Mighty men were also people with positions of power and authority. Again, the Bible says don't praise or glory in your might. Don't boast about it. Don't lord it over others. Only God is all-powerful and mighty. Don't be haughty in your position.
He has shown strength with his arm;
Do you have money? Be thankful, use it for the betterment of mankind, but don't flaunt it. Don't boast about your riches or take pride in how much you have. The Bible says, a rich man who boasts about his money and is not rich toward God is a fool.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Three Things All Christians Should Boast About
But let him who glories glory in this,
These are the things the Lord delights in. He wants His children to know these three things about Him and He wants His children to talk about them to others. And yes, talking about Him, His character and what He has done for us is a form of boasting. But it is not self-centred, prideful, arrogant or haughty because it is God-focused not self-focused. And when God is the focus of our lives then our eyes are taken off ourselves, and pride in what we may have accomplished with our lives, or pride in our jobs or money, will not take root and grow. Why? Because people who focus on God and who He is and what He has done for them, realize that everything they have comes from God and it is only because of God they have been blessed.
So when we see someone like Donald Trump, who exalts himself every time he opens his mouth, how should Christians react to that? How does God react to it? I'll let the Scriptures answer that.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Oh, that my head were waters,
Today while studying Jeremiah 9, I was struck by a few things. First, was Jeremiah's obvious distress. He basically says that if his head were full of water, his eyes would be like a fountain of tears. That's a lot crying. He was known as The Weeping Prophet for a reason. This tells me a lot about Jeremiah the person:
The most interesting thing about Jeremiah for me though, is that he wasn't just a prophet for the Jews. He was a prophet for the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). God appointed Him to speak to ALL people. And thousands of years later, remarkable as it is, the book of Jeremiah is still doing exactly that. At least it is for me. The warnings in this book have seemed to parallel what our world is going through today, convincing me once again that ALL of God's Word (not just the New Testament) is relevant for Christians. Those who say we are not bound by the Old Testament and never bother reading it, do themselves a disservice, because it is in the Old Testament that we find lessons we can take to heart and learn more about the ways of our unchanging God.
In Jeremiah 6:27 we are told that God has set Jeremiah as an assayer and strong tower among God's people. An assayer is someone who is an inspector of metals. He judges their value. So Jeremiah is out among the people and he is assessing them. He knows they are unworthy and God knows he knows. So God makes a decision and says:
Behold, I will refine them and try them;
How are metals tested? They are put through the fire to see how well they stand up. It's called a refiner's fire. In Revelation 3:18 Jesus says: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.” In my book He Who Has an Ear, Who the Seven Churches of Revelation are Today, I explained it this way:
To refine gold, it must be hot enough to burn away the dross or impurities.It is known as a “refiner’s fire” and this is what Jesus was saying the Laodiceans needed to go through. They needed to be refined or tested so all the dross in them could be cleaned out. Then they would be truly rich. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s this: When God wants to deal with something about me He knows I’m not seeing clearly or haven’t worked towards refining, I can be sure I’ll go through a trial. Of course, when those trials go on for months, one starts to wonder, “What am I not getting?” But it may simply be that the dross is gone but God knows He has to “test the gold,” as it were, to see if it endures.
Jeremiah's people were about to be put through the refiner's fire. Not only would they be tested with the horrors of war, (they would end up going into captivity for 70 years) but the land would also be put through the fire. God said:
I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals.
You may be wondering why God would punish the land. Jeremiah asked the same question and God said it was because the people had forsaken His laws. They had not obeyed His voice or walked according to it (Jeremiah 9:13-14). Instead, they had walked "according to the dictates of their own hearts." Their sin polluted the land. So what was God's solution?
“Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles,
What God was about to do in response to the unrepentant hearts of His people would be (essentially) bitter for them to drink or endure. Since they refused to obey Him or listen to Him anymore, He was not only going to bring destruction to Jerusalem and its surrounding cities, but He was also going to send them among the heathen nations (Gentiles) they had followed after.
How Does This Apply to Us Today?
Only the blind cannot see what is happening in the world today. We are rushing headlong toward God's judgment once again. For those who know the Lord, don't be surprised if you find your troubles in life increasing. Rejoice if they are, because the Lord is preparing you for the future. All Christians will go through a refiner's fire at some point. Be strong, stand firm and you will come out shining like gold.
To those who do not know the Lord, this is your warning from Jeremiah, me and all Christians everywhere who beg you to repent and turn to God to be saved. Jesus is coming again and He will not be coming as a meek shepherd, but as a righteous judge.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead." - Acts 17:31
God set Jeremiah as an assayer - to test the people to see if they were worthy. Today, we have an intermediary, who stands before God on our behalf. His name is Jesus and one day He will come again to judge the living and the dead. He alone will decide if we have stood the test and have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Will you be found worthy when He returns?