When Pride Gets in the Way

There are times in our lives when we encounter the works of God but are blinded by our sense of pride to see His grace. There are times when we think we are standing up for what is a rule rather than acting in love for others. God calls us to love not just Him, but others enough to have compassion on them. When we allow pride to rule our hearts, whether we are right or not, we are blinded to God love and grace.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you, and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

Where do I begin with this gospel? There is so much that we can gather, so much wisdom and at the same time, so much challenge from God that we can receive from this morning's gospel, my brothers and sisters. But I want to focus on not the miracle, so to speak, but the reaction of the people.

You see when Christ found this man who had been born blind, he very quietly healed him. And those who witnessed were astounded, they couldn't believe their eyes. So much so that they actually refused to believe that he had been born blind because such a great miracle it was to heal someone who had been born blind. And so the Pharisees, according to the story, the Pharisees challenged this man and their own blindness stops them from seeing the grace and glory of God and that is something that should cause us to weep. Because so many times in our own lives, my brothers and sisters, our own pride gets in the way of us witnessing God's love and his compassion and his grace. Our own pride, many times, stops us from giving glory to God because we demand a certain thing, in a certain way, at a certain time, because we believe we always know better than everybody else.

Of course, that is nothing new. That is the human condition, but in this morning's gospel, it was the cause of great consternation because the Pharisees, having so been blinded by their pride, they actually kick this man out of the synagogue. This potentially was to their own condemnation. And so I oftentimes wonder my brothers and sisters as Americans, living in a country where we pride ourselves in our individual freedoms. We pride ourselves in being able to say, "No one is going to tell me what to do, when to do it and how to do it." And here we find ourselves in the middle of a health crisis, when admittedly even the experts disagree on what is good for us and what is not good for us.

And we have a choice, my brothers and sisters, to act in a position of love or a position of pride. In this morning's gospel, we see what happens when pride gets in the way. Simply because God gave someone sight on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were scandalized. The accused God of all sorts of things, blasphemy, in fact so much was their pride, they refused to even consider that Jesus had been sent by God. They said, "This man is not from God." He says, "And we don't even know where he's from." Which of course was a lie. Everyone knew where he was from. And so they even began to lie and make stories to cover their own pride. And the result was not only did they kick this man out of the synagogue, but they estranged themselves from the love of God.

We, my brothers and sisters, as Orthodox Christians, we live in a society built upon freedom, which of course is ultimately given from God. But we cannot take that freedom to the point where it blinds us to the love of God. We live in a society that whether the society commands us to act in a certain way, we as Orthodox Christians, calling ourselves to a greater commander, we follow the Commandments of God. And so we show love and compassion even in the face of disagreements, because that is love. And when we are willing to act in love and compassion, rather than pride, rather than always thinking we always know the exact answer. When we can put those things aside, miracles tend to happen.

If the rules had been insisted upon, this man would have never received his sight. If the rules had been kept, the crowd would never have witnessed the glory of God. Now rules are not always to be broken. And so we find ourselves, my brothers and sisters, in a bit of a quandary right now. We have received rules to follow, both from our government and from our church. And as I said, we know that even the experts disagree. However, when it comes to acts of love, we put our pride and our ego aside. And so I invite us all in the days to come, as we reopen our cathedral, to put our own agenda and our own opinions to the side and act in love for the other.

We may or may not be right. We may or may not be wrong. And it's always, of course, our right to insist on us being right. However, in this morning's gospel, we see what happens when the Pharisees insisted that they knew better. So we can trust the church because the church is guided by the Holy Spirit. The church is not a government agency. The church is not a secular organization. The church is a divine institution protected and guided by God. And so we can trust our church leaders to know the way we can show love to each other.

Anything outside of love is pride and pride does not lead to God. And so this man returns to Christ. He finds him later and Christ says, "So I see you're having some difficulties. Do you believe in the Son of Man?" Who is he that I may believe? Now we heard this before. The Samaritan woman, God revealed himself to her and he revealed himself to this man today. He said, "I am he," and this man went back and glorified God. None of which would have been possible if we allowed pride to rule. Only in love and compassion, can we find the works of God. Christ is risen, [foreign language 00:08:57], and God's power will come and dwell within our hearts. Glory to God for all things.

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