"I really enjoyed it."
"Thank you so much."
"That was a great sermon."
"You really spoke to me."
"I love your preaching."
These are some of the things preachers hear from well-meaning people after they have spoken. In fact, I've heard just about all of these.
I currently have the opportunity to preach twice each Sunday and lead prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. I'm thankful to God for allowing me to do this. After each sermon, I try to greet the people as they exit the building. Most folks want to say something nice about the sermon. There is no problem with that.
The problem lies with me, in my heart. After hearing all of those nice words, there is a big temptation to think I am something special. I can sometimes sense insidious thoughts creeping around in my head - prideful thoughts. After listening to compliments, I have to be careful not to begin thinking that my speaking ability is excellent, outstanding, tremendous, fabulous, and amazing, etc. I could easily begin thinking that I am the next John MacArthur, John Piper, or Alistair Begg.
The reality is that I am nothing special. In fact, unless God speaks when I'm in the pulpit, nothing good is going to happen. Frankly, this is the case when anyone is preaching and teaching.
Pride is such an insidious danger. I'm reminded of verses such as these:
Genesis 3:6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." Pride is implied in Eve's desire to be wise.
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 29:23 "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor."
1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. "
Pride is a (if not THE) cause of much sin. It is the ultimate dethroning of God in our minds and replacement of ourselves on the throne. It is us saying we are the cause of the good that has occurred. When we remember just how corrupt we are (click here for more on that), then we realize what blatant idolatry pride really is.
So what should we do when faced with this dilemma? When I'm feeling prideful, I first quickly repent. I also remind myself that anything good that happens in the pulpit comes directly from God. Anything bad comes from me.
On top of that, I think about verses such as James 4:6, which says, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'"
Let us all, no matter what our circumstances, resist pride and cling to God, the only source of good.