Noses Up in the Air

slide1Someone with much pride is often described as having their nose up in the air. This is especially evident when they’re in the company of those they deem as inferior. What do we do when WE are in the presence of someone who looks down their nose at us like that?

There’s a joke about two well-bred female AKC (American Kennel Club)-approved dogs who were proudly strutting down the street with their noses held high in the air. Along came a big alley dog, a mutt. Embarrassed at being in the company of such a no-account, one of the dogs said, “We must go. My name is Miji, spelled M-I-J-I!” The other one said, “My name is Miki, spelled M-I-K-I!” The alley dog put his nose up in the air also, did his own little strut, and said, “My name is Fido, spelled P-H-Y-D-E-A-U-X!” (selected)

Fido wasn’t about to let these uppity canines outdo him. He could put his nose just as high as they could, strut around, and make HIS name just as classy as theirs. Fido had his pride, too, and he wasn’t about to let them outdo him. But was this really necessary? Did he have to raise himself to their egotistical level?

There’s a saying, “Always hold your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.” This would have been good advice for Fido. So what, he was only a mutt! He could still hold his head up as an alley dog without his nose up in the air like those other two snobbish dogs. He didn’t need to make an impression on Miji and Miki just to get their acceptance or to impress them or to show he is better than them. But isn’t this natural?

We want to fit in, be respected, and feel like we’re just as good as those who look down upon us. But when we let our own pride get the best of us, and try to outdo them, we end up only fooling ourselves and making ourselves look foolish in the process. Like Fido—a common, ordinary alley dog—we can’t change the fact that we are who we are, too. And, as such, we don’t need to pretend we’re something we are not.

God can and will use us just as we are—that is, as long as we are willing to give up our pride and humble ourselves before him. James wrote, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you,” (James 4:10, New American Standard Bible, NASB). He’s not looking for persons with their noses in the air, but those who humbly submit to him out of love, honor, and devotion. Then, he will exalt us or lift us up, not we ourselves.

In essence, when we are humble, we have no need or desire to hold our noses in the air. And yet, when we humble ourselves and literally look up to heaven for strength, there’s no other choice but that our noses point up in the air, too. The big difference is, however, our noses are not pointing up out of haughtiness. We’re humbly turning to God. As the Psalmist declared, “I will lift up my eyes [and nose!] to the mountains; From whence shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD…,” (Psalm 121:1-2a, NASB).

Once there was a King called Nebuchadnezzar (pronounced, neh-byoo-kuhd-NEHZ-er), a great and powerful ruler of Babylon from 605 BC to 562 BC. Babylon was home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens, which is credited to him.

The Bible says that one day, as Nebuchadnezzar was walking around on the roof of his royal palace, he gazed out over his grand city. And the self-righteous king “…reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I MYSELF have built as royal residence by the might of MY power and the glory of MY majesty?'” (Daniel 4:30 NASB). Talk about someone with his nose up in the air! He was a typical elitist who let his power go to this head.

But God was about to teach him a valuable lesson. It says that even while these words were in his mouth, “…a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty [literally, “your kingdom”] will be removed from you,'” (Dan. 4:31). God went on to reveal his ominous punishment:

“And you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over you, the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever he wishes.'” (Dan. 4:32).

So it says that,

“Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled, and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like bird’s claws,” (Dan. 4:33).

There are different explanations on the kind of sickness God afflicted on Nebuchadnezzar. According to The Pharmaceutical Journal (posted by Prospector PJ, 10 July 2013), it is believed that the king suffered from boanthropy, a psychological disorder in which the sufferer believes he or she is an ox or cow. Another assertion is that he had porphyria—an enzyme disorder that produces “neurological symptoms such as hallucinations, depression, anxiety, paranoia, or general paresis or paralytic dementia caused by syphilis.”

The post adds,

“The porphyrias are a group of rare inherited or acquired disorders of certain enzymes that normally participate in the production of porphyrins and haem. They manifest with either neurological complications or skin problems, or occasionally both.” (https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/opinion/blogs/nebuchadnezzar-and-boanthropy/11123165.blog?firstPass=false)

Whatever his affliction was, it was enough to bring the king to his senses. After suffering for a period of seven years, Nebuchadnezzar again turned his nose up in the air. But this time, it was out of humility, not pride.

In his own words, Nebuchadnezzar recalls,

“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation,” (Dan. 4:24).

Once Nebuchadnezzar turned his face toward the true God of heaven, he was returned to his sanity and his sovereignty was restored (Dan. 4:36). And he concludes,

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride,” (Dan. 4:37).

Nebuchadnezzar’s experience serves as a good lesson for us. God desires that we do not put our noses in the air out of pride and arrogance. He wants us to look up to him and give him the praise that he so deserves since he gave his only begotten Son to give us the hope of receiving eternal life. Unlike Fido, all we need to do is give God the glory and praise, for as King Nebuchadnezzar declared,

“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'” (Dan. 4:34b, 35).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s a worship video that encourages us to look up to God for our help: http://youtu.be/KP1QKueGK-o

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