You don’t have to be a Christian to be familiar with the account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11 — when God put a stop to people speaking the same language, caused confusion among them, and dispersed them throughout the earth.
But as with most elements of Scripture, there’s way more going on — and much that is applicable to our lives — if we have ears to hear.
On Sunday Pastor Scott talked about pride — and identified it loudly and clearly in verse 4: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Let us make a name for ourselves.
How interesting that this very attitude, which is all-encompassing amid our present-day culture, also was alive and well way back in the time of Genesis.
Pride is a problem for us, just as it was for the people building the tower. They were puffed-up, discovering they could build a city and a tower and put all the focus on themselves — and essentially become famous. They could make a name for themselves. Superstars! But where did God fit in with all of that? The answer, as usual, was nowhere. It’s a familiar human pattern: Pride grows within us, we want to be our own gods, and we push the real God to the margins. We build our towers and our walls, try to make a name for ourselves, and keep the Lord out of our lives.
Pride often is the central factor in what becomes our worldview as well — and such pride, which places each of us in the center, can lead to and justify all sorts of bad behavior. That’s what took place in the hearts of those who were building the Tower of Babel.
But what’s amazing is how God responded to them. It’s common to confuse the Lord’s discipline for punishment — and along the way God’s gotten a bad rap. Sometimes in our weak moments we fear the Lord will do “X” to us if we do “Y” when in reality God employs discipline as part of his loving relationship with us. He’s constantly steering us in the right direction. For the people building the tower, God saw their way of looking at the world — their prideful attitudes — and knew they needed an adjustment. So, the Lord took something away from them — their ability to communicate with each other — in order to stop their selfishness in its tracks.
Something else Pastor Scott shared rings so true for us today: It’s way easier to listen to God’s whispers and obey them — especially if we don’t share his passion for the places where he wants to take us. Indeed, it’s a lot more difficult when the Lord has to take drastic action to get our attention!
If you’re a Christian, and you’re wrestling with pride and the temptation to make a name for yourself and push God to the sidelines, you’re not alone. Christ’s saving grace in our lives doesn’t mean Jesus is all finished molding us into the people he wants us to be — that’s an ongoing, lifetime process. As Pastor Scott said, the Christian life means daily self-examination. It means waking up each day and asking God, “Am I on the right track? Is there any pride hindering me from doing what you want me to do?”
How about we all put away our bricks and mortar and cease building our towers and walls? Even more, let us tear down those human-made fortresses that keep God out — and instead be open and vulnerable before the One who will never betray us, who will never crush us as we take such a step of faith.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” — Psalm 139:23-24