March 19: puffed up (Joshua 3-6; 1 Corinthians 4)

Puffed up. Paul gives us words that provide a picture of what pride can look like. Pride is a problem when it becomes something that divides our allegiance. In the Old Testament reading, the people of Israel cross the Jordan River on dry land just as they did 40 years earlier when crossing the Red Sea. Each of the twelve tribes takes a stone and together they build a memorial to honor and remember what has happened. Not so they could celebrate what they had done.So that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God (Joshua 4:24).Israelites – be careful not to be puffed up! Without God, what would you be?

To the Corinthians Christians, Paul says, “don’t be puffed up”. They were a small group to begin with and yet that had already subdivided, declaring allegiance to one leader or another, taking pride in following one over following another. And when they got all “puffed up” about this, Christ got lost.

Pride is not a bad thing. Jesus taught, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Which also means it is okay to love yourself as your neighbor. That doesn’t mean your heart is to beat faster every time you look in the mirror, nor every time your neighbor passes the window. Being all “puffed up” should cause us to ask: what do we have that we have not received (as a gift)? And if we have received, why do we boast as if we did not receive? If we start boasting about ourselves we fool only ourselves. We are now as ever dependent on God’s grace. If we boast, let us boast in the LORD. It is God who has done great things.

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