This morning as I was waiting for my fellow pastors to arrive for our weekly prayer meeting, I noticed a squirrel behaving oddly.  It was running and jumping quite erratically.  Then, out of nowhere, this hawk swept down out of the trees; its claws like laser-guided missiles.  At the last moment, the squirrel jumped onto a tree and ducked out of the way.

 Then I understood what the squirrel what doing.  That squirrel knew that danger lurked nearby.  So while the squirrel was trying to go about its normal day of looking for food, it was also trying to fight off the hawk.  This pattern continued for several hours.  I don’t know if the hawk gave up for the day, or if it got its prey.  In the next couple of days I will be able to determine if the hawk was successful because the number of squirrels will have declined.

 As I watched the hawk, I couldn’t help but relate the squirrel’s struggle with the hawk to our struggle with pride.  Even though we sometimes recognize that pride is lurking on our doorstep, more often than not, we don’t.  And if we are mature Christians, we will even try to take steps to keep pride at bay.  That erratic behavior will not finally save that squirrel’s life.  The hawk will be victorious.

 For believers, there is only one counter to the constant hunting pressure of pride.  That one thing is not found in ourselves.  It is only the grace of God.  The only way pride does not consume us is if God is gracious to us.  And where do we discover God’s graciousness toward us?

 We certainly find it in the Word and prayer.  However, because of the nature of pride’s attacks, we will misread and misinterpret scripture and events to our own selfish ends.  This is why we also need church discipline.  We need a church where people will tell us, in compassion and love, that we are acting out of pride and not humility.

 I didn’t notice this until I was leaving, but there was another squirrel around the corner.  That squirrel was calm and collected and going about his day as if there was no danger present.  Did it see the warnings of the other squirrel?  I don’t know.

 But God has called his children to be a part of His Body, the church, where we will have other believers exhorting us to humility.  And if we do not listen to those in God’s church, especially the pastor and elders, who have been charged with watching out for our souls, then we will fall into the crushing claws of pride. 

 Psalm 59:12-13 says, “For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter, consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more.”

 In Isaiah 13:11, God says, “I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”

 James 4:6-7 says,  “But he [God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

 In conclusion, the hawk of pride can only be defeated by the gifts of faith and repentance.

Jeremiah 13:17 expresses a shepherd’s compassionate heart for those who will not repent.  “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.”

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