The Ride of Pride
January 12, 2014
Technology allows us to experience life like we never have. It opens the door of communication and allows us instant access the world, and the world instant access to us. But along with the opportunities for greatness, it also paves the path for some serious pride in our lives.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young takes a look at some dangers of what we say through technology. We see that what we communicate speaks more than the words we type or pictures we post. And we learn how to win in God’s eyes by taking the focus off of ourselves and placing it where it needs to be.
Good morning this morning! The #1 word in 2013 was the word ‘selfie.’ It tells you a lot about our culture, doesn’t it? Selfie. A couple of nights ago Lisa and I went out to eat at an Italian restaurant and we looked around and we were flabbergasted at how many smart phones we saw. It’s almost as if the smart phones were a part of the silverware. When I ordered I almost said, “Hey, I’d like some pasta with some marinara sauce and could you give me a side of smart phone?” You go to a movie and people are checking their phones after the movie before they even look at their date or their spouse. We’re tethered to technology.
Technology, though, I think sometimes people think that it’s just horrible, it’s bad. It’s not bad. Technology is a tool. Now it can become a tail and the tail is affixed to a pit bull if you let it go, and that pit bull <barking!> can mess you up. Technology is neutral. A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with it. We either love it or we loathe it. I think it’s time we face it and embrace it, and understand the power of it and utilize it for some amazing things. And today I’m kicking off this series on technology because I think if the truth were known a lot of us have looked at our iPads and smart phones and we’ve looked at our Xboxes and we’ve said, now and then, “What the hecknology?” Technology works just enough to keep bringing us back, doesn’t it? Just enough to keep bringing us back.
I love technology. I’m not at all, in this series, going to challenge you to burn your technology or throw it away or go back to just one cell phone the size of a shoe box. We’re not gonna go back to sending smoke signals or Morse code, we’re not going back to the Guttenberg press or anything like that. No, no, no. We’re gonna face it and embrace technology, and that’s a good thing. But you have to ask yourself what the hecknology? Because if you’re not careful you can end up being wrecknology. So checknology before you wrecknology. Get it? Got it? I got it, do you got it? Yeah.
Hey, we live in one of the best places in the world for airports. Have you noticed that? Dallas/Fort Worth, we’ve got so many incredible airports it’s ridiculous. And so often you look up in the sky and it’s littered with plane after plane after plane. Wherever I’ve lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area I’ve lived close to airports. Sometimes I look up in the sky and when I’m really contemplative I say, I wonder where they’re going. Some people I know are going on vacation. I’m all about vacations, they’re fun. Others are going on business trips. Others are going maybe to funerals, family reunions, to weddings. Some are going to serve our country. Have you ever thought about the people? Where are they going? All these people traveling here, there, and yonder. They’re just taking off and they’re going. They’re cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet, or whatever they say. I think if the truth were known all of us here are on a trip.
Now I shy away from saying all, but I’m pretty confident. All of us now are on a trip. An ego trip. We’re on the ride of pride. I confess. I’m a prideful person. I struggle with pride. I struggle with my ego. Technology is a massive mirror. I think the mirror of technology is more telling than any mirror that we look into. Technology exacerbates who we are. It shows the good, the bad, the ugly like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We go online. We text. We Tweet. We e-mail. We log onto different web sites and chat rooms and we post all of these pictures on Instagram. It’s so telling about your life and mine. Because who you follow is who you will follow. Who you friend is who you friend, you know? I can predict your future by some of the friends that you have. Technology is fascinating. We can leverage it, I believe, for greatness.
Today, though, I want to talk to you about a subject that is a painful one to talk about. I mentioned it earlier, I want to talk to you about pride. Psychologists call it narcissism. Greek mythology, Narcissus, walking down a path one day. Looked, saw his reflection in some water. He began to fall in love with his reflection. Maybe the first selfie in the history of the world was right there. And now, all of the thinkers say, “Oh, we have a culture of narcissism, and technology is the major contributor to narcissism, this me-istic mentality.” I agree. I totally agree. We all have struggles with narcissism. However, God is the one that pinpointed narcissism. It’s pride. It’s pride.
See, I can see pride in you but I have a hard time seeing it in myself. “Oh, you’re prideful.” Because I have certain things in my mind, certain little components and if you mess up on one of those little components, “Oh! You’ve got a pride problem!” And you’re the same. What is pride? Pride is giving myself the glory that is only reserved for God. It’s rebelling against Him. That’s what pride is. You think back in time, back specifically in the life of Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, Lucifer had a pride problem. He was the worship leader in Heaven, meaning that he was all about giving love and honor and glory to the Lord. But check out what he said. It sounds like someone is Tweeting. It sounds like one of the, maybe, people that I follow or you follow.
“I will ascend to the Heavens. I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the Mount of Assembly, on the utmost heights. I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. The ride of pride. The ego trip. And the plot clots in Psalm 138:6, “Though the Lord is great he cares for the humble.” The sin: pride. The win: humility. “But, he keeps his (say it with me) he keeps his distance from the proud.” Pride distances us from God. It attributes to self the honor and glory due to God alone.
The Bible uses the term in Romans, chapter 11, high-mindedness. It comes from the Greek word ‘to surround in smoke or mist.’ You might say, “Oh, man, that’s just smoke and mirrors.” Well, you’ve got a pride problem. So we’ve taken off and we’ve left the Earth’s atmosphere, we’re trying to get into this universe called Me. We’re surrounded by clouds. We’re surrounded by mist, and we don’t know which way is up. Pride is rebellion, pride is deceptive. Pride is disrespect toward God and it always leads to destruction. You’re on a doomed flight. I’m on a doomed flight, when I take this ego trip. Pride distances me from God.
But notice this. It also distances me from the gifts and the abilities he has bestowed upon my life. I have gifts that you don’t have. You have gifts that I don’t have. You have abilities I don’t have. I have abilities you don’t have. Everything I have comes from God. Everything you have comes from God. If I’m prideful I’m like, “I did it. I’m the man. I’m quick. I’m fast. I’m creative. I’m visionary. I’m the leader. I’m this, I’m that, I’m this, I’m that.” Pride.
So pride is about elevation. I’m here, you’re there. We post something. I’m here, you’re there. There’s a picture. I’m here, you’re there. Why do we say certain things online? Why do we post certain pictures? Why do we read certain things online? A lot of it is fueled by pride. Pride. It distances us from God. It distances us from his gifts and abilities. We don’t appreciate it. We think it’s all about us. It distances us from the church. You show me someone who’s kind of numb toward the church, who kind of keeps the church at arms’ length and I will show you someone who has a pride problem.
Because the church is all about worship (God, you’re God, I’m not). The church is all about serving, getting outside of yourself, losing yourself in this situation. Someone who’s prideful is like, are you kidding me?
One day the disciples were arguing about who’s the greatest? Who’s the greatest? Who’s the greatest? Who’s the greatest? Who’s the greatest? Jesus said you want to become great? Become a servant. Humble yourself before the mighty hand of God. Then about a week later they were reclining at a table. Now back in the day you can imagine the foot odor that was around. Just think about the foot odor. They wore sandals, they walked around, their feet were all funky and dirty.
One time about a year ago Lisa and I were on a transcontinental flight and before we took off this guy removed his shoes. I’m telling you, I have never smelled something that rancid in my life. And I was thinking to myself, oh no. I have got to endure this for 14 hours? Because you see, I was going to Africa to humbly serve the Lord. <laughter> Anyway…. See? I’m humble in my pride. I’m prideful in my humility. Isn’t it crazy?
Thankfully his seat was broken and the flight attendant had to move him somewhere else. I mean I stood up and worshipped the Lord. “Thank you Lord-uh! Thank you Jesus-uh!” I mean, I don’t know what happened to this guy’s feet. I have nightmares about that. The guy sat down in the seat and just took his shoes off. <whoosh!>
Well, here you got back in the day the disciples reclining, and when you recline that’s when they would eat. Study your Bible, the history. So your feet would be in other people’s faces. No one was there to wash the feet. You know what Jesus did? Without saying, “Hey, where’s our foot washer?!? Do we have a foot washer in the house?!” He didn’t say that. He got up and what did he do? He started washing the feet of the disciples. Here is the son of God – have you ever thought about the humility of God? The humility of God, just leaving what Jesus left, becoming man, and then serving? Wow. It’s awesome. Humility.
So pride, we see, distances us from God, from the gifts he’s given us and from the church and from serving, from others, but humility connects us with those things. Ultimately I’m in the right position. Your God, God, and I’m not God. I submit myself to you. I honor you. I humble myself before you. Then that segues into everything I do, say, touch, and feel. Humility is losing yourself in service. And we can never arrive there, we can never get there, but I want you to see the difference between the two. You’ve got pride and you’ve got humility. I would argue that we can leverage technology to reveal and to show others our humility. But be careful. The moment you think you’re humble is the moment you have a perverted form of pride. Oh man, I’m really humble…. And then I begin to think about things that make me humble. A-B-C-D. Oh, OK. I don’t see that in you so you’re prideful. I would argue that the most prideful people in the house are not necessarily the ones who are blinged out, who are like, “Yeah! I’m here, man! I’m in church!” Yeah, you can see you’ve got a pride problem. I would argue, too, that some of the most prideful people in the midst are the most conservative. Those who are quiet. Those who look around. Those who are the martyrs. You might think… no! He’s not prideful! She’s not prideful! Watch out. Watch out. Pride, pride, the ride of pride. It’s a nasty ride. It’s a bumpy ride. You leave the Earth’s atmosphere and you cruise around in this universe called me, and you can’t see because you’re enveloped with smoke and mirrors. You’re enveloped with this mist.
Have you ever wondered what the passenger list reads like on the ride of pride? I mean, we’re on this incredible vessel. You know who the captain is of this plane? It’s a special plane. The captain is Ned Narcissist. “Hi, I’m Captain Need Narcissist. We’re leaving the Earth’s atmosphere and we’re entering a universe called Me.” Well, I have stolen, and I don’t steal but I did, I’ve stolen the passenger list of this flight. And maybe, just maybe, I’m talking to young people, I’m talking to junior high students, I’m talking to high school students, I’m talking to singles, I’m talking to those who are 25 or maybe 95. Maybe you find yourself on the passenger list.
The first person: Hal Humility. He’s just humble. I described him a second ago. Hal Humility, a man of humble means, a man who is just getting by, a man who just knows what he knows. He’s not gonna really ask anybody any questions because he kinda knows it all. He’s not gonna be vulnerable because he’s the man. Could it be that we have some Hal Humility people on this flight? Could it be that some of you maybe would be Hal or Henrietta Humility? You know, you judge people so quickly. You go maybe on Facebook and say, “Oh man, they’re this. They’re that. I can’t believe they said this” or whatever. Be careful!
There’s also Dana Destination. Always Tweeting and texting about, “Oh, I’m going here! I’m traveling over here! Yeah, you might be in Midlothian but I am in Rome. You might be in Grand Prairie but I’m in Hawaii.” And you, like, see this person on Facebook. You see them on Instagram and it’s like, what?! I deserve that! Why do we post pictures of the different destinations? Could it be, OK, I’m just suggesting, could it be OK, I’m here, you’re there. Again, elevation, see? Pride. I’m here, you’re there. It’s about me. I get to travel here to eat this food, to do this, and you don’t do it.
There are some people that I cannot follow because it revs up those envy engines in my life. <engine sound effect> envy-envy-envy-envy-envy-envy… Because I begin to say, “I deserve that. I deserve. God, I work for you. I deserve to speak there. I deserve to… why is this person writing this book?” Pride. Pride. The ride of pride.
There’s another one on the passenger list. Tim Trophy. You know the person who’s always parading the trophy friends around? This happens with students. You know, that popular girl, that popular guy. Oh, gotta take a picture with them… do the duck face. What is that about? Because see, I can parade my trophy friends around. See, I’m so insecure that if I get my picture taken with a trophy friend it’ll give me security. People will think I’m all that. Pride. Pride. Oh, I gotta get a picture with a celebrity. When you get a picture with a celebrity here’s what it means: You don’t know them. You don’t know them. You go to my office I’ve got a couple of pictures with me and celebrities. I don’t know those people. They’re on my ego wall. But I’m not gonna take the pictures down because whenever I feel insecure I go, whoa! That’s me with… yeah.. I feel good! I feel a lot better about myself! I am something, yeah, uh-huh. “But Ed, they don’t know you.” I don’t care. I’ve got my picture taken with them. Isn’t that funny how we do that? Why do we do that? Pride. Insecurity. We’re looking away from God and we think others can satisfy. Others can carry the freight that only God can. Our world can’t carry the freight, Tim Trophy, Tina Trophy.
Oh here’s another one of my favorites. Susan Selfie. Selfie. Does that tell you a lot about our world? Selfie. Selfie. <cachoong!… camera sound effect> Selfie. Why do we take a selfie? Then we take them over and over and over again to get that right shot. Oh, double chin. Shows my muffin top. No. Shows my love handles, no. I gotta look really cool. Ya know? Selfie. Who do you need to de-friend? Who do you need to stop following? They’ll mess you up. You’ll begin to get into opinion worship. You don’t worship God any more, it’s like instantaneous. Now I post this and … how many likes? And how many comments? Oh my gosh! Any comment section you read is from the pit of Hell. Let me say that again. That is the lowest of the low. Rats stay away from that. The comments section.
Lisa and I tried to go to this restaurant and we called up for reservations. It wasn’t like super fancy, just this like hot restaurant. Four days in advance you need to call. So I go online. The first three comments about this restaurant were horrendous. Brutal. Nasty. Horrible. I’m saying to myself, man. Four day wait just to get reservations just to show up and eat and these people are ripping it to shreds? Finally we ate there and I looked around. What if someone stood up while we were eating in this hip restaurant? What if someone said, “This restaurant is horrible, man! I hate it! The waitresses and waiters are bad. And the owner is a crook. And the food makes me… <pre-vomiting sound effect> upchuck! Blah-blah-blah!” Ah they would drag you out like that. You’d probably get arrested or something. But we go online and it’s secretive. No one knows. I’ll disguise myself. FSUBowler#12. You know? “I hate this restaurant. The pasta is pitiful. The food is cold.” You talk about displaying our depravity? You go online, I go online, we expose ourselves to these spineless platforms, these people. It’s amazing.
But there’s another one. I kinda got off subject. There’s another one. Paula Partay. You know Paula, don’t you? You’ve seen her. She’s all over technology. Paula Partay. Party all the time, Partay all the time, Partay all the time. Always at a party. All those pictures. She’s a party girl, party girl. And you post and post and post and it’s like, “I didn’t get invited to that party. Why didn’t I get an invitation to that party. I don’t really know that many people. Look at Paula.” See? Again, pride. Let’s just admit it. I’m here, you’re there. Why do we post this? I’m here. You’re there. I’m at this party with all the people, the cool people, and you’re at home in your apartment alone. You didn’t get invited.
Then we got Sam Soapbox. You know the soapbox people. Just one issue. They’re just obsessed in this one issue, enveloped in this one issue. One issue, one issue, one issue. Always they’re just dieseling on about this one issue, one issue, whatever it is. One issue, one issue, one issue, one issue. Standing up on their soapbooooox!!! Oh they love it!
All this e-communication, all this technology. It’s secretive. We think we’re secretive but we’re not. I would argue that when we go online and type out messages or things to other people that it can hurt the other person more than if you met with them face to face. Don’t ever try to communicate something emotional online. And what’s so sad about pride is, pride distances us from others and so often I talk to people and they can’t even talk any more. I mean, yeah, they can go online and do this. But you sit down with them? They can’t talk anymore! They can’t ask you a question about your life. They can’t engage you. Pride. Narcissism. Whenever they do talk it’s, you know, about yourself. They might ask you this pathetic question like, “How are you?” and they just ask you that question just so they can wax eloquently about themselves. See, we’re prideful and don’t even know it.
Oh here’s another one, one of my favorites. Barbara Bikini. Posting pictures in a bikini and writing Scripture verses beneath them. Hey, here’s your homework. Don’t take a picture and post it of you in your swimsuit. No! Don’t do it, don’t think about it. Somebody help me up here. I’m gonna start preaching in a second. What? You’ve gotta be kidding me.
See, pride, is a form of insanity. Gonna take a picture of you in a bikini and put it online. See, back in the day, old-school, we had something called photo albums. I loved the photo album! Had your little coffee table in some drawer somewhere. People ask you a lot of questions and finally you’re like, “Well, I will show you a photo album if you want to see it.” It’s like, all right. You only do this with a close friend or family member. And then they would look, “Oh, this is good, OK, right. I can understand that. You went to Galveston. Got married in Garland. That’s cool.” Put it away. Now it’s like, “Let me post it for the world to see, baby!” Pride. I got this figure, I’ve got this physique, you don’t. Pride.
Now I’m not saying we should never post a selfie. I’m not saying we should never post a selfie. I’m not saying we should never post a picture, but edit your Tweets. How many personal pronouns are you using? I did this with myself recently. It was very convicting. Very convicting. Are you an informer or a me-former? Informers are people that are, “OK, let me help you. Here’s some information. Here is this or that.” A me-former is, “This is about me, me me me!!! Me! It’s about me! I learned it’s my sin nature and I want to display my depravity. It’s about me! I’m here and you’re there. And God, you’re way away. Church, you’re way away. It’s about me! Meeee! It’s about me. It’s about me. It really is, it’s about me. It’s about me.” Me-former.
“This morning I woke up and I had some gas.” I don’t care.
“I’m drinking coffee now at Starbucks.” Whoop-de-do-da-day. But we’ve gotta post something. We’ve gotta put something out there, don’t we? We have to. We have to. It’s about me. Me. Me. It’s about me. It’s me.
There’s another one, this last one. And this is kinda up in my face. Ed Ego. Ed Ego. See this? I took that picture about a week ago. You know where I was? I was in Miami. I was with the twins and we went into this really cool cigar shop in Little Havana. That lady was one of the cigar rollers of Fidel Castro. It’s very fascinating to watch people roll cigars, those people that really know what they’re doing. This lady is absolutely unbelievable. So I said,
“Hey, Landra!” (one of our twins), take this picture. So I sat down by her – I can’t pronounce her name and she doesn’t speak English, and she’s rolling a cigar there, and there I am. And when I saw the picture after Landra took it I said, “Let me see the picture… let me see the picture!” and there were others I didn’t look that great. But that one, look at my triceps. Look at the size of my tricep. It looks like I have a horseshoe on the back of my arm! And also, you can’t see my little flabby flab because I have a black shirt on, but see, if you look closely the black shirt, there’s a picture of the continent of Africa because as I was humbly serving the Lord on that transcontinental flight I went there and, you know…
Here’s what Christians do. This is pitiful, guys. Christians will brag. I mean, we’ll be so prideful but we’ll throw in words like humbled, blessed, it’s a God-thing, so we’re pimping God now. I’m just gonna brag. I’ll just brag and brag and brag, bless. Anyway, put the picture back up. I did not post the picture. Now, first of all my arms are not that big. Somebody takes a picture and it comes out perfectly. Lisa and I worked out, back in the day, three years in this gym. I mean, hard-core training. Lisa has the genetics and muscularity to really excel. Well, at the end of our three years of working out with a trainer someone took a picture of us and my brother was like,
“Man, Ed, I’m gonna be honest with you. Lisa’s arms look a lot better than yours.” So I just told Lisa,
“You gotta stop working out. You’re too muscular. You look too good.” So my arms are not that big, they’re really small, but right there they look huge. So I thought, “I’m gonna post that because, I don’t know, I just look good. Plus I have the Africa shirt on, which means I’m humble. I’m humble to go to Africa and serve. And God answered my prayer because the guy with funky feet got moved on the flight so I was able to sleep.
Now surely you don’t think things like that before you post pictures, I know it’s just me. Surely you … you do? No… You do? You try to put yourself in a good light? Like I… pride. Pride. I can see it in you, you can see it in me, but it blinds us to its existence.
Pride is the forerunner of all sin. It’s the precursor of all sin. I don’t have an anger problem, I’m just emotional. I don’t have a lust issue, I just have a strong sex drive. I don’t struggle with envy, I just want what you got. I’m not slothful, I’m just laid back. Pride.
So what do we do about it? Well, on this flight we’re distanced from God and his gifts and the church and others, what do we do about it? Well, let’s go back to Captain Ned Narcissist. Let’s land the plane. Because we left reality. I would argue that a lot of the stuff that’s online, a lot of the stuff that we post is not even reality. It’s fantasy files. It’s ESPN Sports Center highlight-reel living. It’s not real. Everything is not a highlight. So what do we do? We land the plane. We’ve gotta get grounded. And I can hear Captain Ned Narcissist saying,
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve started our descent. In preparation for landing please make sure your seats and tray tables are in their full upright and locked position. And by all means, please turn off all electronic devices until we’re safely parked at the gate.” <jet engine slowing down, brakes>
All right, I’m on the ground now. No longer that ride of pride, that ego trip. I mean, I’m gonna stay grounded. But then when I stay grounded I’ve got to stay away from the sin, I’ve got to go and walk with the win. So I’ve gotta go back through security. Is that a beat down? Back through security. But this security is good because we’re gonna put on a cloak.
1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
God, I believe you sent Jesus to make up the distance caused by my pride. I receive that, I humble myself before you. You be the Lord of every venue of my life, of my direction, of my gifts and abilities, of my future. I give it all to you. I submit myself to you. I’m gonna be grounded in you, God. That’s what I want. Because the last thing about pride that’s so scary… pride can distance us from God throughout eternity. That’s the last thing I want to say. So you play with pride. You say, “Well, God grades on a curve. If I’m a good guy or good girl he’ll let me in. If I’m sincere he’ll let me in. All religions, everything, leads to the same ultimate goal.” That’s like saying you can dial any number arbitrarily on your smart phone and get my number. There’s only one number. That’s why Jesus said there’s only one way. Pride can keep, and it does keep, many people away from knowing Jesus, from eternity.
Technology, what the hecknology? Pride and humility. It’s time that we land the plane and humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]