Lesson 7August 10-16

How Much Will You Pay?

Read for This Weeks Study:  Luke 14:7-11; 18:9-14; Matt. 21:28-32

Memory Text:  "All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted"  (Luke 18:14, NRSV).

Key Thought:   Last week we learned how essential prayer is to Christian growth. This week we will learn that pride is a malignancy that surely will stunt that growth, if not destroy it altogether.



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LIFE'S MOST VALUABLE DISCOVERY. In 1847, Scotland's Dr. James Simpson discovered that chloroform could be used as an anaesthetic, making it possible for patients to have pain-free surgery. Many doctors felt that this was one of the most important breakthroughs of medicine in their time.

Years later, Dr. Simpson was lecturing at the University of Edinburgh. A student asked him what he thought was the most valuable discovery of his career. Of course, everyone expected Dr. Simpson to mention chloroform. But he answered, "My most valuable discovery was when I discovered myself a sinner and that Jesus Christ was my Saviour."

Such an attitude of humility fosters Christian growth, while pride will effectively stunt or destroy our spiritual development. This week, the parables we will study give us an in-depth look at pride and the price it exacts from those who are all too willing to pay. As you study, remember that pride caused Lucifer's fall (Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:11-19) and is, therefore, the root of all sin. Also, consider how you would have answered the student's question if you had been Dr. Simpson.

SundayAugust 10

PRIDE'S FOCUS (Luke 18:9-14).

What two characteristics did the people possess to whom Jesus addressed the parable in Luke 18:9-14?

Although verse 9 does not specify that Pharisees were present, Jesus had them in mind when He told this parable. It was the Pharisee in the story who epitomizes the two characteristics of the people whom Jesus was addressing.

"The Pharisaic, legalistic concept of righteousness operated on the premise that salvation was to be earned by observing a certain pattern of conduct, and gave little or no attention to the necessary devotion of the heart to God and the transformation of man's motives and objectives in life. . . . The concept that outward conformity to divine requirements was all that God asked, irrespective of the motive that prompted compliance with them, actuated their thinking and living."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 846.

What was the focus of the Pharisee's world? What does this tell us about his attitude toward himself, other people, and God? Luke 18:10-12.

"Two men went up into the temple to pray" (Luke 18:10). Every day, there was time set aside for prayer during the morning and evening sacrifices. People could also go to the temple at any time for private prayer.

"I fast twice in the week" (Luke 18:12). The Mosaic law did not command fasting except for the Day of Atonement. But the Pharisees fasted regularly (Matt. 6:16).

How proud the Pharisee was of his own accomplishments in the name of goodness! The frigid winds of pride swirled around him as he stood alone upon his mountain of self-righteousness-alone because pride needs no God or companion other than oneself. And therein lies the sin of pride. It separates us from the only Source, of true righteousness and mercy, making it impossible for us to be merciful to others. Unlike Dr. Simpson in Sabbath's lesson, the Pharisee had not yet discovered that he was a sinner and that Jesus was his Saviour.

How are you tempted to exalt yourself? What does it do to you when you contrast yourself with those upon whom you look down? If we are not aware that pride exists in our hearts, what can enable us to see ourselves as we really are?

MondayAugust 11

HUMILITY'S FOCUS (Luke 18:9-14).

While the Pharisee was thought to represent the highest level of holiness in Jewish society, the tax collector portrayed the lowest. Jews ostracized those of their heritage who collected the Roman poll and land taxes because paying the poll tax was a concession to Roman overiordship, while paying the land tax was an insult to God, whom they believed was the sole owner of the land. Tax collectors often took more than the required taxes.

Even though Jesus did not condone the behavior of most tax collectors (Matt. 5:46, 47), He did spend time with them, thus inciting the wrath of the Jewish authorities (Matt. 9:10-13; 11:19).

After reading the tax collector's prayer, decide what was the focus of his world. What does this tell us about his attitude toward himself, others, and God? Luke 18:13.

"Have mercy on me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13, NIV). Literally, the sinner. The tax collector viewed himself as if he were the only sinner (Compare 1 Tim. 1:15-17).

Humility "is not so much a self-consciousness as a God consciousness; not so much a mean thinking of ourselves as a thrilling, penetrating consciousness of him who is perfect holiness and truth.... The publican felt God at his heart; and the sight awoke the longing to be holy as God is, and the longing to be holy called out the sense of wrongness. Oh, how he had offended! how selfish and grasping and wicked he had been! All else fades into indistinctness; in that temple there are to him but the two presences, God and his soul, and the soul cries, 'God be merciful!'" - -The Pulpit Commentary, The Gospel According to St. Luke, vol. 1, p. 117.

How would you describe the results of the two prayers? What do these results teach us about the role of pride and humility in a person's religious experience? Luke 18:14.

"Justified" (Luke 18:14). This means declared righteous (Rom. 4:1-8) and made righteous in the sense of receiving the gift of the Spirit in the new-birth experience (Titus 3:5-7). "The publican knew himself to be a sinner (see v. 13), and this realization opened the way for God to pronounce him sinless-a sinner justified by divine mercy .... It was the attitudes of the two men toward themselves and toward God that made the difference." - SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 848.

TuesdayAugust 12

WHEN YES MEANT NO (Matt. 21:28-33).

Jesus tells another parable that deals with pride and the price it exacts in Matthew 21:28-33. Why did Jesus relate this parable, and to whom? Matt. 21:23-27, 31, 32.

"By what authority are you doing these things?" (Matt. 21:23, NIV). This is a reference to the events earlier in the week, which included Jesus' triumphal entry (Matt. 21:1-11), the second cleansing of the temple along with the healing of the sick (Matt. 21:12-16), and His present teaching in the temple courts (Matt. 21:23).

Centuries later, human nature has not changed, and there are still some persons who dare to profess Jesus while questioning His authority. To discover just how much a person pays for such an attitude, examine more closely the words and behavior of the two sons in the parable.

If the two sons were yours, which one in the end would you be most concerned about?

False professions then. "The son who said, 'I go, sir,' represented himself as faithful and obedient; but time proved that his profession was not real. He had no true love for his father. So the Pharisees prided themselves on their holiness, but when tested, it was found wanting.... They had no true love for God or man. God called them to be co-workers with Him in blessing the world; but while in profession they accepted the call, in action they refused obedience."--Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 278, 279.

False professions today. "Self-righteousness is not true righteousness, and those who cling to it will be left to take the consequences of holding a fatal deception. Many today claim to obey the commandments of God, but they have not the love of God in their hearts to flow forth to others. Christ calls them to unite with Him in His work for the saving of the world, but they content themselves with saying, 'I go, sir.' . . . They are living a lie."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 279.

People who display such an attitude are incapable of confessing their sin, because they cannot recognize their need of Christ. As long as they are so intent upon admiring themselves in the mirror of their self-righteousness, they will be ill-equipped to heed Micah 6:8 and Matthew 23:23.

How will you answer the Saviour's call to work? What does the word today in Matthew 21:28 mean for your life?

WednesdayAugust 13

WHEN NO MEANT YES (Matt. 21:28-32).

Yesterday we studied about the son who agreed to his father's instructions in word only. Now we will consider the son who declined his father's command, but later obeyed.

Contrast the attitude and response of this son with the attitude and response of his brother. Matt. 21:30.

"Pride dies hard, but this son admitted his wrong without any attempt at excuse. Then he went. Perhaps his work was not impressive, perhaps his former insolence had impaired both his skill and his staying power. But he did his best, and God reckoned the attempt for the deed." -- The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 7, p. 511. The laying aside of pride reflects several promising qualities: (1) reflectiveness; (2) humility; (3) willingness to admit wrong; and (4) a desire to do better.

The son we studied yesterday represented the Pharisees. Whom does this son represent, and why? Matt. 21:31, 32.

Tax collectors and prostitutes symbolize all social and religious outcasts. But Jesus states that there is more hope for people such as these than there is hope for people who wrap their pride around them like flamboyant scarves. Pride recognizes no need. But those who recognize themselves as sinners realize they need a Saviour and become dismayed at the thought of being eternally separated from God. They respond to Him who has said, "Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37, KJV NRSV).

Pride corrodes. Beginning with its launch in 1938 until its retirement 40 years later, the Queen Mary was the largest ship to navigate the seas. During its conversion to a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California, workers removed its three enormous smokestacks in order to paint them. But as they began their task, the stacks crumbled. All that remained were 30 coats of paint applied over the decades. The 3/4-inch steel that had formed the stacks had completely rusted away. The Pharisees' religion was much like those smokestacks; their profession like the 30 coats of paint. Theirs was the appearance of holiness. But pride had long ago rusted their substance.

The parable of the two sons points out the choice the religious leaders had made about the gospel proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus. What choice have you made regarding this gospel? Which son are you?

ThursdayAugust 14

PLACES OF HONOR (Luke 14:7-11; Matt. 23:1, 2, 6).

As you read Luke 14:7-11, ask yourself when you might have seen or heard someone trying to obtain "a place of honor." What about human nature causes us to do so?

As these verses suggest, a parable need not necessarily be a story. Obviously, Jesus based His words of advice on what He saw take place before His very eyes (Luke 14:7). But His words for the time being apparently had little effect, for even at the Last Supper the disciples abandoned their Leader's advice for the sake of arguing about who among them was the most distinguished (Luke 22:24).

The place of honor (Luke 14:8, NIV). Jewish tradition stated that places of honor were those closest to the host.

"The usual law of life is to use our invitations and our social clout to acquire friends and prestige. We want to put in our debt those who can enhance our social and business status."-Bruce Larson, The Communicator's Commentary: Luke (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1983), p. 220.

Immediately after telling the parable, Jesus instructed His host not to invite to dinner only people who could repay the favor. Instead, He declared that he also should invite those who could not repay. Notice that the people Jesus mentioned should be invited were social outcasts; people who, due to their station in life, needed some assistance; people who could not clamor for the places of honor.

Attitudes of pride and humility are best witnessed in how we treat other people, especially those people upon whom society often frowns. While pride motivates us to seek the pleasure and profit we can obtain only from the popular and prestigious, humility urges us "to remember that God sees mankind as one family, and that his love runs most quickly to the neediest."-The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, p. 254.

How does James present Jesus' teaching on pride? James 2:1-5.

How can we obtain and retain humility? First of all, consider the facts: any one of us actually knows very little compared with the sum of all knowledge; and however important we believe ourselves to be, life existed before we were born and will go on without us when we die. Second, meditate upon Christ's example of humility as described in 1 Peter 2:21-25. (Compare Luke 14:11.) Behold Him dying on the cross. He died for you. Third, communicate with Jesus, asking Him to change your attitude from love for self to supreme love for Him and for your fellow humans.

FridayAugust 15

FURTHER STUDY: Contrast the disciples' pride with Jesus' humility as displayed at the Last Supper. John 13:1-17; Luke 22:24-27. How did Paul, a once proud person himself, reinforce Christ's example of humility? Rom. 12:10; Gal. 5:26; 6:14; Eph. 4:1-6; Phil. 2:3, 4.

Read Christ's Object Lessons, "Saying and Doing," pp. 272-283; "Two Worshipers," pp. 150-163.

"Christ would have His disciples understand that although He had washed their feet, this did not in the least detract from His dignity. 'Ye call me master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.' And being so infinitely superior, He imparted grace and significance to the service. No one was so exalted as Christ, and yet He stooped to the humblest duty. That His people might not be misled by the selfishness which dwells in the natural heart, and which strengthens by self-serving, Christ Himself set the example of humility. He would not leave this great subject in man's charge. Of so much consequence did He regard it, that He Himself, One equal with God, acted as servant to His disciples. While they were contending for the highest place, He to whom every knee shall bow, He whom the angels of glory count it honor to serve, bowed down to wash the feet of those who called Him Lord. He washed the feet of His betrayer."--The Desire of Ages, p. 649.


1. Contrast Lucifer's desire for equality with God (Isa. 14: 12-14; Eze. 28:11-19) with Christ's thoughts on the subject (Phil. 2:6-8).

2. After studying this week's lesson, what would you say pride costs? (Consider the origins of pride, what needs to be done about it, and the expense involved to the individual, the church, the Godhead, and society.)

3. In Luke 14:13, Christ instructed His host also to "invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind" (NIV). How do you feel about following these instructions? What do these instructions suggest about church membership?

SUMMARY:  Pride is a cancer that hinders us from enjoying a meaningful relationship with Christ. It prevents us from making the most valuable discovery of all--that the only place of honor worth having is beside our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Global Mission Pioneers in Russia

James H. Zachary

The young man walked to the front of the room, then spoke. "I am Valery Starchenko," he began. "You would not have wanted to know me a year ago. I drank and smoked and spent my time and money on selfish pleasures. I had no interest in God." He hesitated again, seemingly reluctant to continue.

"Two years ago my wife became a Christian. I was angry. When I came home drunk, I often heard her say my name in prayer. 'Dear Lord, please help Valery to accept Jesus as his Savior. I love him and want him to experience the peace and joy You have given me.'

"At first her prayers angered me. I was an atheist. I wanted only to make money and have a good time. Religion was not for me."

Valery's expression changed. "Then something happened," he said. "I saw that my wife was kind and forgiving, but f was cruel. I began to repent of the evil I had done to her, and I asked her forgiveness.

"I began studying the Bible. This brought great joy to my family. Then last year I was baptized. Now I have a new life in Jesus. The old ways are gone. I have never been happier. Now my wide and I plan to spend a year working together as Global Mission Pioneers in the Ukraine. I know that there are other men who need to find a new life. I will tell them what Jesus has done for me and invite them to share the joy He gives."

During two recent training seminars in the Ukraine, some 140 Global Mission Pioneers were trained to establish new companies of believers in unentered areas in Russia or the Ukraine. After each team works in their assigned territory for six months, Quiet Hour evangelistic teams will conduct reaping meetings and help establish new churches in these formerly Communist countries.

Pray for the Starchenkos as they start their new life together inJesus. And pray for all the Global Mission pioneers and the people who will come in contact with them, that they may accept the message of hope and life.

James H. Zachary is evangelism coordinator for the Quiet Hour television broadcast.

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