Day 21 – Corporate Fast – From Dana Thompson
I was meditating and praying about “being right!” What an enemy to our relationship with God, and others. Marriages suffer so much intimacy because the husband and wife constantly struggle with “being right.” Boy, we all suffer with PRIDE in this area. Pride is putting ourselves on an equal level with God. It is reserving for ourselves the right to decide what is right or wrong. Our pride is what put our Lord on the cross. We are just like those who said, “We will not have this man reign over us.”
Think about what we learned about “looking good!” What I noticed from meditating on the seven giants is that all seven are motivated by fear, and pride is what keep them on the throne of our heart. Pride is projecting on the outside what is not true on the inside. Today, let’s conquer the leaven of pride, which is a primary hindrance to daily success by humbling ourselves before a holy God and making things right with all those whom we have offended.
First, let’s discuss the nature of leaven. It is another word for yeast, a naturally occurring plant. In ancient times, they didn’t know that. What they did know is that if you took flour and water, kneaded it well and left it in a cool place for a long time, the dough would rise. They also knew that this process would speed up if you saved a little dough each time you baked to add to your next batch. This reserve is now called a “starter.” It was a good way to preserve yeast that made good bread, versus leaving the dough out every night in hope that it would catch a good wild yeast versus a bad one. Once the yeast gets into the lump, it spreads throughout the lump without noticeably changing its color. Yeast is both invisible and yet visible, since it does change the shape and texture of the dough.
One of the interesting characteristics of leaven is that its fermentation process produces pockets of air that “puff up” whatever it is in. God uses this phenomenon in describing people who have allowed the leaven of hypocrisy in their lives. When Paul instructed the believers at Corinth to remove the immoral man from their assembly, he also addressed the serious problem of pride that they were exhibiting: “Ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you” (I Corinthians 5:2).
One way the Corinthians demonstrated pride was by forming factions around their favorite teachers and being puffed up against each other because of which teacher each one followed (I Corinthians 4:6). Paul also warned them about the pride of living in the knowledge of liberty without showing love through deference to weaker brothers when he said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (I Corinthians 8:1). Being puffed up with pride is a spontaneous result of allowing a little leaven of hypocrisy to exist in our lives.
In bread making, the trapped air produced by leaven causes the dough to rise and become enlarged, but the dough is easily deflated by applying pressure. In essence, this is what Jesus did when He publicly denounced the Pharisees for their many hypocrisies.
- Appearing to be spiritual, but loving sensual pleasure (Matthew 23:27).
- Praising God with the mouth, but having a heart that is far from God (Matthew 15:8).
- Teaching man-made theology rather than revelation from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 15:9).
- Doing good deeds for the purpose of being seen and praised by people (Matthew 6:1).
- Praying publicly to impress people (Matthew 6:5).
- Fasting with the motive of getting personal praise (Matthew 6:16).
- Focusing on religious traditions rather than God’s commands (Mark 7:9).
- Trying to correct others while having the same problem in ourselves (Matthew 7:5).
- Telling others what to do but not doing it ourselves (Matthew 23:4).
- Loving the praise of people more than the approval of God (Luke 11:43).
- Refusing to enter the kingdom of heaven and preventing others as well (Matthew 23:13).
- Taking advantage of others financially under the pretense of religion (Matthew 23:14).
- Expending great effort to make converts of their own system (Matthew 23:15).
- Emphasizing religious details while neglecting foundation principles (Matthew 23:23).
It would be wise to study each of these verses and examine our own lives in order to detect and purge all leaven of hypocrisy or pride. We may try to justify or excuse little traces of these problems in our lives because they are so small, but let us remember that only a little leaven is needed to “leaven the whole lump.”
God requires us to have a humble spirit before He will impart spiritual wisdom to us. Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor [meek] (Luke 4:18). Therefore, we are told: “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee …” (Proverbs 22:17-18).
One demonstration of leaven of pride is putting our human intellect above God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. By doing this we become the judge of God and His Word rather than allowing Scripture to examine and judge us. “… Be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).