TURN OR BURN – THE WAR AGAINST PRIDE! - Matthew 18:1-10

Shalom family, blessed be יהוה our Elohim as we diligently hear-guard and do all that He commands, aměn!

As one walks continually in the Word and diligently follows the instructions of our Messiah, we are to guard ourselves against any form of pride that may set in, which can happen as a result of many things, but primarily can tend to have a way of setting in when we do not deal with stumbling blocks along the way. Tonight I would like us to look at some very serious words and instruction on humility and guarding against pride that our Master יהושע spoke to His talmidim (disciples). In a message tonight called, “Turn or Burn – The War Against Pride!” please turn with me to Mattithyahu/Matthew 18:1-10 (Read).

This passage struck me this week as Reinier and I were having an early morning time of prayer and reading of the Word and I was continually drawn back to this passage and being struck how significant these words of יהושע are in terms of our life of obedient worship. I would like to briefly share with you some valuable insights into these somewhat piercing words of our Master and realise our need for total humility in being a true part of His Body!

First up, in setting the scene we must understand that יהושע had been teaching His talmidim a great deal on the reign of the heavens and here He literally rebuked them for their pride and desire for worldly greatness and in this chapter He taught them 3 essentials for unity and harmony among the people of Elohim – and that is Humility, Honesty and Forgiveness and tonight we will be looking at humility.

In verse 1 we see that the taught ones came to יהושע – this is important for us to once again see and recognise that the words which He spoke to them were to ‘believers and not unbelievers’! I fear that many times we may forget that the very words of Scripture are for the Body of Messiah, not for those outside – it is for us and is a mirror for us to make sure we remain dressed in righteousness. There had certainly been some debate among the disciples on who would be the greatest in this reign that their Master and Teacher was teaching them about. They had just been told by Messiah that He was about to be delivered up and killed and then raised on the third day, which grieved them greatly, yet after a lesson on tax and submission to authority, there seemed to be a dispute arising among the disciples as to who would be the greatest, and they would have all had their own reasons as to why they would have a better position than the others – Kěpha had, after all, had walked on water, had seen Messiah transfigured and had his taxes paid by a miracle. And while יהושע was teaching them the truths of His reign and His pending suffering, they were more interested about what positions they would have in His reign, and were so caught up in the selfishness of this that it caused some disputes – possibly even heated ones!!!

Self-centeredness and disunity causes great harm to the health and growth of the body and the underlying cause or root of this attitude is PRIDE - where one thinks that he is more important than what he is. When believers are living only for self and not for others then there is bound to be the danger of some conflict and division creeping in, and this we are to be on guard against. We have been speaking a great deal of late about the need for community to be built stronger and this will take submission and humility by all. The disciples were eagerly waiting for יהושע's answer and He stuns them with a great reality check – one that we ought to be able to have too!

יהושע calls for a little child and lets him sit with them and we must understand that this was a little child – not a baby or a teenager but a small child and He tells His taught ones that unless they TURN and become AS little children they would by NO MEANS enter the reign!!!! Some very hard words it must have been to them that day and words that are still as powerful to us today. Now what we are to also understand is that there is a difference between ‘like this child’ or rather ‘child-like’ and ‘childish’! There are many adults who are childish and desperately need to become child-like!

The emphasis here is that to become child-like one needs to TURN:

The Greek word used here for ‘turn’ is G4762 στρέφωstrephō’ – meaning, ‘to turn, change, turn back, be converted or changed into another kind of person’ and ‘to change one’s mind or conduct’. Understanding the words of our Master here helps us see the deep need for so many to ‘turn’ and change their mind and conduct and become as a child or else they may just find themselves being burnt! Turn or burn – it is a huge war against pride!

How many people have you heard say the following, “I am not going to change!” or “You will not change my mind!” or “I believe what I believe and nothing you say can change that!”

Selfish words of pride – I wonder how many of us have echoed those same words before, especially when approached on a topic where you think you have all the answers?

So many today stubbornly refuse to change the way they think and sadly it is going to keep them from entering the reign, for יהושע says that unless you do you will never; and the emphasis is placed here on the negative in that unless you turn and change your mind and become childlike then there is absolutely no ways that you will enter His reign!!! Now this was words to His close disciples – a shocking but needed wake up call for them to drop pride and humble themselves in service to the Master and one another!

Becoming child-like speaks of humility as verse 4 confirms this by saying that just as this little child humbles himself before the Master, so should His taught ones be in order for them to enter His reign and become the greatest – this was a lesson on humility 101 – drop all your own ambitions and agendas and be willing to submit and surrender your all – then you will be great in His reign!!! This was a wake-up call for them who were debating on their assumed greatness and if they truly wanted to continue to be His taught ones they had better listen up!

Luqas/Luke 14:33 “So, then, every one of you who does not give up all that he has, is unable to be My taught one.

As simple as this sounds and we may all say we know all this – but in reality I have to ask you – have you really given up all?

Ya’aqoḇ/James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Master, and He shall lift you up.

The need to walk in humility in critical to the life of the body, in order that strife and contentions do not break out and where each member is respected and highly regarded above self, and this is not easy for many ‘grown-ups’ today! This ‘turn’ is a picture and lesson for us in turning from being full of pride and self to dying to self and immersed in humility.

This is the call to turn away from ‘self-rule’ (that is from an ‘I’ll do it my way’ attitude) to turning to יהוה’s rule (that is to an ‘I submit to His way’ attitude). The dangers of an attitude of pride may lead one to become sceptical, bitter or resentful towards others – how often have you found yourself being sceptical about what יהוה has planned for you, or bitter or resentful over a circumstance or person or group of people, especially fellow believers, simply because you did not get your way? Well if we want to enter the Reign of Messiah then we need to turn from being sceptical to being trusting and making יהוה our absolute trust; and we need to turn from being bitter to being caring and loving and turn from walking in resentment to being forgiving. Is there still some turning that needs to happen in your life – that is to say – is there still some renewing of the mind and a change of conduct that needs to take place? If so, then turn!!!

When we receive one who has turned and humbled themselves, as a little child, in The name of Messiah, we receive Him – this too is a test for those receiving newly turned ones!!! Especially if you know the person and have seen the pride in their life! Are there any people you know of that you would be reluctant to receive or sceptical about receiving due to the history of their stubbornness? יהושע encourages us to recognise them that have turned and receive them, for if we do not – there is a very heavy woe! Anyone who causes the humble to stumble will face the wrath of Elohim – in fact death by drowning would be a better option than to face Elohim and His wrath.

A humble follower of יהושע helps to build up His body (even if it means by reproof) and does not tear down. Being straight is necessary, as long as it is with intent to build and give direction according to the Word and not simply to break down and destroy.

We need to wage war on pride – by turning and becoming child-like and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and no longer be self-seeking – a huge challenge for many today in a world that teaches you to look out for self – that is not going to get you into the reign!!!

We all want to know what יהוה’s will is for our life, right? Well then it is simple:

The best way to know יהוה’s will is to say “I WILL” to יהוה – a very simple yet very important and profound TRUTH for a child of Elohim, especially in light of the Torah portion from last week when we went through Shemoth/Exodus 18-20 where Yisra’ĕl said ‘WE WILL DO” before even hearing the instructions – that is being child-like!!!

Verse 7 - Woe to the World and Woe to the man!

Stumbling blocks – Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 27:18 “Cursed is he who misleads the blind in the way.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Aměn!’”

We are in the world but not of this world and we must realise that there are many stumbling blocks in the world as the result of sin/lawlessness, and we must guard ourselves from these, as well as from being a stumbling block for anyone else. Our actions and our lifestyle has a far greater effect than we may care to realise as there are others that will follow your lead, whether you realise it or not – we all influence others and are influenced by others and we are to be careful as to what influences us that we may be sure that our lives can be a good influence to others! We must be willing to remove whatever offends – by that I mean simply this: whatever influences in our lives that are offensive in any way we must remove. And to keep from offending and influencing others negatively radical changes are often necessary!

If you are not walking in total humility and submission and surrender to the Word of Elohim and have some stumbling blocks that are keeping you from doing so, be it a bad habit or an attitude of stubbornness to change or even being subject to outside influences that are affecting your ability to remain humble in obedient submission to the Torah of Elohim, then you need to remove it!!!

This verse is also a warning against falsehood and false teachers who twist the Truth and cause many to stumble, and a huge warning to all of us to be very careful not to cause any to stumble. We must also be vigilant to ensure that all stumbling blocks are removed from our own lives or else we may cause others to stumble by them too!

And with that in mind we come to the verses that struck me this week in terms of our worship and service unto Elohim; and here יהושע makes it clear that if there are any stumbling blocks in your worship and obedience to His word then cut it off – let us take a look at these three body parts He uses and recognise their significance in our walk today!

HAND – FOOT – EYE

All three of these carry great insight for us and when you see the repeated use of these words in various applications we begin to see the lesson behind the language. If any one of these (hand, foot or eye) cause you to stumble – that is to be tempted to sin or entraps you and cause you to sin – which is to be lawless – then cut it off! We must realise that יהושע is not advocating that people literally go around and cut off their hands and feet and pluck out their eyes – He is teaching the severity of not walking in humility and unity and the need to deal ruthlessly with anything in your walk that is causing you to stumble and sin.

 

1 - HAND – service/ work/ profession

The Hand speaks of what one works with – as we know that is was with a Mighty Hand that He delivered us from Mitsrayim, and our hands are to be doing the works of righteousness and not works of lawlessness – our walk of active faith should be evident of righteous acts of set-apart children of the Most High.

Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. 22 “Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ 23 “And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!’

We must be careful to ensure that our daily lives reflect one of working righteousness and as Messiah tells us too that if one puts his hand to the plough and looks back, he is not fit for the kingdom. We cannot look back as Yisra’ĕl did in the Wilderness for that generation did not enter into the Promised Land; but rather we must stick to the task of being faithful with what the Father has put in our hands – and that is His word, which we take up the Sword of the Spirit and work diligently unto Elohim, being like children in humble service – for then we will enter His reign!

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone doing righteousness has been born of Him.

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 3:4 “Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

 

2 – FOOT – walk

The foot is a metaphor for one’s walk, and as we see how our feet are to be fitted with the preparation of the Good News of peace. Pride has a nasty way of making one’s footing insecure and bringing us down:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 29:23 “The pride of man brings him low, But the humble in spirit obtains esteem.

Feet is also a symbolic picture used in describing disciples who would listen to their teachers as they would come and sit at their Teacher’s feet. There are many today who claim to walk in Messiah yet they will not come and sit under the teaching of His Torah and find themselves walking where they should not be and are influenced by other teachings.

In Hebrew foot or feet is also used as a reference in one’s walk of obedience in referring to the 3 pilgrimage feasts of יהוה that each man was required to go up to Yerushalayim every year for – Pěsaḥ, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Shemoth/Exodus 23:14 “Three times in the year you are to observe a festival to Me.

The Hebrew word used for ‘times’ is Strong’s H7272 רֶגֶלregel – means ‘a foot/feet or to walk. So as I said – one’s obedience and submission to the Truth is seen in one’s walk – the question is simply whether our walk is straight, healthy and in loving obedience or is it diseased and crooked through stubbornness and pride?

 

3 – EYE – passion/vision/sight

What you will look at – that you will set your sights on and pursue! Where are your eyes focused on? Is it the dreams and desires of self-indulgence or on the Prince and Perfecter of your faith? Are your eyes on the world and what you can achieve in this world or on the Living Word and seeking to please Him? What you set your eyes upon reveal that which you love:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world nor that which is in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 Because 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.

In Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:29-30 in speaking on lust יהושע uses the term ‘if your RIGHT EYE causes you to stumble’. Right eye or a ‘good eye’ is a Hebraic idiom for the one among you who is most generous and many today are often reluctant in disciplining the biggest tithers when they are in sin – and they will pay an even bigger price if they neglect to do so. So as you get a good eye, there is also what is known as an evil eye which can reference to being stingy and lawless:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:22-23 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, all your body shall be enlightened. 23 “But if your eye is evil, all your body shall be darkened. If, then, the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Therefore what we ‘see’ here is that a good eye is one that is ‘clear and unclouded, healthy and good’, while an evil eye speaks of selfishness and pride:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 22:9 “He who has a good eye is blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.

Our eyes are to be upon His Truth:

Tehillim/Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I might see Wonders from Your Torah.

According to Scripture when does the Torah get read as a community? On Shabbat!!!

Having said that, this is exactly what struck me when reading these verses – His ShabbatHis Feasts and obedience to keeping His instructions as a community in unity. I think we all get the essence of what these verses are saying to us, but on a more significant point I see it speaking a whole lot more to us who desire to walk in obedience together as a body of believers!

If we understand that our sign/mark of worship is reflected in our obedience to Messiah and more specifically we are told in Shemoth/Exodus 13 twice that Pěsaḥ and Matzot (Passover and Unleavened Bread) shall be a sign on our hand and will be a reminder between our eyes – that the Torah is to be in our mouth – because with a strong Hand יהוה brought us out of Mitsrayim. We also see twice in Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 20 that the Sabbath is our sign between us and יהוה forever. Sabbath and His Feasts – signs on our hands and eyes – and our feet, if you will, as we see the word feet being used to instruct us to keep His Feasts – representing a pure walk of obedience and submission to sitting at His feet hearing His instructions! Where am I going with this? We all know that there is a battle for worship – the enemy is doing his best to corrupt people into worshipping him as he sets himself up as Elohim in the place of Elohim – that is in the hearts of the people of those who fall to his lies and receive the mark of the beast, which is sun-day worship and the keeping of pagan rooted feasts of traditions of man; and the mark of this is also spoken of as being on the right hand and forehead (eye) in Ḥazon/Revelation; while those who overcome and do not receive the mark of the beast will reign with Messiah for 1000years! Those who humble themselves, endure and remain steadfast in worship unto Elohim will enter the reign of Messiah!

With this in mind as we look at Mattithyahu/Matthew 18:8-9 we can then get a clearer instruction from our Master:

 

If your hand causes you to stumble – cut it off – Is your work causing you to stumble – that is to not keep His Sabbath? If your work causes you to break the Sabbath – cut it off. So many today are too afraid to stand up and stop working on Sabbath in fear of losing their job – they will lose a whole lot more if they do not cut off the stumbling block of work and trust יהוה to provide a better solution!

 

If your foot causes you to stumble – cut it off – Is your ability to not gather as commanded a stumbling block that you reason away with various excuses. His Shabbat is His day – set-apart unto Him – it is not for us to do our own pleasures or even speak our own words and we must cut off any stumbling blocks that may be causing us to neglect doing what we are commanded to. Now, as for this family/community, we gather for erev Shabbat as well as on the day – if you are part of this assembly let there be no stumbling block to doing what we do in gathering as we do. Excuses can become stumbling blocks – cut them off and humbly become like a child and submit! Do you find yourself keeping other feasts that are not Scriptural – cut them off – realise that your actions influence others, so do not compromise, and do not teach others to compromise. There are some that are erroneously teaching their kids that staying in on erev Shabbat is sufficient – it is not true – the whole of Shabbat is יהוה’s, not just a part of it that suites you!!! Don’t let your foot cause you to stumble by going your own way!

 

If your eye causes you to stumble – pluck it out – What are your eyes focused on? Are you looking out only for self and neglecting the body to the point where you cannot even see the needs that are in the body? As we read that the eyes are the lamp for the body and Tehillim/Psalm 119 tells us that The Torah is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path – then it is plain to see the simple math here – our eyes are to be upon the Torah – we do not need conspiracies and hoards of other teachings that may in fact be taking away the light of the Torah and His Living Word  - we need His Light – our eyes fixed upon it, that our body becomes a shining light of His Truth giving us clear direction for each step we take.

Are there things you are setting your eyes upon that may be causing you to stumble in keeping His Shabbat and His Feasts – be it family members who are calling for your attention, or work and burdens that have you so weighed down that you are so focused on anything but His Shabbat and His word, thinking your own thoughts and are unable to focus on Him and His Word and His Body and so cause you to stumble in keeping Shabbat set-apart – pluck it out. The eye also speaks of our intellect and mind/thoughts – if you are coming to a Shabbat gathering and have a major stumbling block in your thoughts that consumed with heavy burdens of work, relational stress or any other issues and your ability to fix your eyes on His Word are distracted – then pluck it out.

Bring no burden into the gates on Shabbat!!! This is a day to rest in יהוה, delight in Him and give our all as a total ascending offering!

Pride is the focus on self – even self-pity is a form of pride as it only looks in at self. The words of our Master are clear – unless we turn and become as children – that is to turn from pride to humility and destroy all the stumbling blocks to our obedience, and more specifically to our mark of worship in keeping His Shabbat and Feasts as they are to be kept, then we may find ourselves unable to enter the reign of Messiah and face being burnt!

Turn or burn – the war against pride – the solution is simple – humble yourself and simply obey and trust in Our Father who is in the secret place. What, if any, stumbling blocks are there in your life – stumbling blocks that are causing you to be lawless and neglect the purity of True worship? It is time to get very radical and cut off or pluck out – you will either be in or out of His reign when He comes – may we be continually humbled, destroying all form of pride and self and find that we enter in and be great in His reign, aměn!

Shabbat Shalom!