God’s Method of Dealing With Tall Poppy Syndrome


Audio: mp3

Revelation 18:7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 

The phrase the tall poppy syndrome is a phrase used in many commonwealth countries of Britain to describe one trying to outdo the rest.  The syndrome is a set of symptoms that show a disease.  Pride is something that you cannot nail down but it has symptoms, a syndrome.  The phrase a tall poppy syndrome came from Rome.  In the year 535BC the last king of Rome before Rome became a republic was Tarquinus.  He had a name that described him.  It was Tarquin the proud.  He had a son called prince Sextus.  Prince Sextus sent a messenger to King Tarquin.  It was a request of what he should do next in the city Gabi.  The messenger asked the king, what should your son do?  He didn’t answer but went into his garden and took a stick and cut down all the tall poppies in his garden.  The messenger went back and told the son what he had seen.  The son realised what he was to do.  To cut down and kill all the prominent people in his region.  That is what he did.  From that time, the saying of the tall poppy attitude came forward.  As the request was to cut down all the tall poppies in the town, he forgot to kill himself and his Father as they were tall poppies. They were proud people.  They only killed the people that were coming up close to their rank so they could stand out even greater. We read a very simular attitude by the Assyrians or Babylon.

Ezekiel 31:3 Behold, the Assyrian [was] a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. 5 Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. 10 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; 11 I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.

We find in pagan and papal Rome a hub of Babylonish customs and a way of thinking which here in Ezekiel describes it repeated in the kingdom of Rome. Coming down to the time in which we live, this problem still exists.  This is the message we identify ourselves in where we find ourselves living in this passage of history.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong [is] the Lord God who judgeth her. 

The call is for us to come out of Babylon.  To come away from the customs and methods which she practises.  Not just in outward practise, but in the heart, to remove yourself.  What she has done is exalted herself all the way to heaven her sins reached.  To reward her even as she has rewarded you. What was the mentality of king Tarquin the proud of all those that respected the other people?  Babylon and Rome wanted to cut down everybody that had a reputation and a influence.  In cutting everyone else down, it left them standing oh so tall.  That is how she deals with faithful people.

Many people that follow God through a good life become wise and have a good reputation.  In the French revolution it was repeated that anyone with skill was to be killed.  In our time, it is time for her to be rewarded as she has rewarded everyone else.  It is time for Babylon and everything it encompasses to be brought low.  Before the mighty one destroys this world, the call is come out.  Here is a Scripture that proves that we can be caught up in following her example.

Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

We all come into the category of small and great, rich and poor, free and bond and we are either one or the other.  Babylon is causing the world to receive its mark.  There are outward actions but in the heart it is haughtiness, pride and a sense of achievement that we can do something.  The three angel’s messages are a direct warning to us.

Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

There are two distinct classes in this world.  Only two.  The followers of Babylon in its heart motivation and the followers of God.  Because we are born with an ingredient that desires self-exaltation, God has mapped out a pathway for us to recover ourselves.  This text compares the world with Gods ways.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

You notice that doing the will of God has nothing to do with the pride of life.  Nothing to do with it.  This text is showing a sharp contrast between the pride of life, what makes us happy, or what we think makes us happy and the love of the Father.  They are two different things.  We must overcome the pride of life.  I must overcome the pride of life.  To be the tallest in the garden is to clamour for recognition, just for someone to acknowledge what I do.  We need to ask ourselves what is in the heart.  What was in the heart of Babylon?  She said in her heart, I sit as a queen.  Its not something anyone can say we have or don’t have but it shows up.  If Jesus had the pride of life he would not have come to this earth.  He would have stayed in his realm.  As he came to this earth, he abased. Even then people thought he was proud.  People misjudge all the time.

It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. By what means, then, shall we determine whose side we are on?  {SC 58.1}

Why are we Christians?  Why do we come to church?  Why do we accept office in the church?  Why do we preach?  What is our motive?  Is it to gain recognition?  To build ourselves a reputation?  Do we have underlying motives in our Christian walk?  Why do we clean the house?  Is it because people are coming?  Why do we do certain things?  It is true there may be an outward correctness of deportment.  The love of the world has nothing to do with the love of the Father. It has nothing to do with serving God.  There is a mingling of the Babylonish custom with Christianity.  We abhor it when the Catholic Church brings in things and blends it with Christianity.  Xmas, Easter, all these outward things, we don’t like them.  What about the heart that is motivated with something other than the love of God?  A love of influence.  Self respect.  Isn’t it good to have self respect?  Isn’t that something we have to work on in this world?  Self respect. The love of the Father and the world are two opposites.  We must come out of Babylon in heart not just in action.  God says very clearly what he intends to do with man.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy Fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

God wants to prove your heart.  He was proving Israel’s heart.  What is in your heart?  You notice that to prove what was in their heart God gave them hardship and blessing.  God gives us hardship.  He also puts in blessing to see what is in our heart also.

Deuteronomy 8:10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.  I’m giving you this food, when you are full, then you can bless the lord and praise his name.

How many times does God give us blessings and then waits to see if we acknowledge him?  Or whether we think, we worked it out ourselves.

Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:  hear is the warning again.  Beware lest you forget what actually makes you live.  We eat food and we have energy to do, what we will but that energy is not ours.  He wants to make us know we don’t live by bread only.  What do we actually live by?  The word of God.  The ward that created us continues to sustain our life but we don’t acknowledge it.

Deuteronomy 8:14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

The heart was lifted up.  God has blessed the Advent movement with talent, light and messages and Laodicea has forgotten.  What is the Laodicean view?  You think you are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.  The thinking of Rome has become entwined with Christianity today in the way in which we think.  In the way we approach missionary work.  The way we approach everything is tainted with the heart of Babylon.  God is wanting to correct this, come out of her my people.  That’s why you come out because the punishment is here.  The big tree that was so tall is cut down.  To search our hearts, what motivates us.  Heart obedience is willing to be anything or to be nothing.  That is heart obedience.

But how few of us regard the salvation of sinners in the light in which it is viewed by the heavenly universe,–as a plan devised from eternity in the mind of God! How few of us are heart to heart with the Redeemer in this solemn, closing work! There is scarcely a tithe of the compassion that there should be for souls unsaved. There are so many to be warned, and yet how few sympathize with God sufficiently to be anything or nothing if only they can see souls won to Christ!– Gospel Workers, p. 116. (1915)  {Ev 628.2}

In the heart of the redeemer is not the heart of Babylon.  God isn’t putting himself above and cutting everyone else down.  We need to see what precedes the judgement.  The heart of the redeemer is to be our heart in the work.  To be heart to heart with the redeemer means we are to be nothing.  Humanity has no problems with being anything, but has problems being nothing.  Pride is not just a loud mouth but it can also be a quiet one.  That is up for you and Christ to work out.  It’s not up to me to tell you.  This message is for me.  As we search our heart, what makes us walk with Jesus?  Is it the loaves and fishes or is it to eat his flesh and drink his blood?  Can we be perfectly happy in being nothing? Can any of you add stature to your height?  You can’t.  For us to realise our actual position we are to realise we are nothing.  A tall poppy.  What is a poppy?  It’s a flower.  It’s nothing.  The sun comes and it’s scorched.  The wind blows and it’s over.  How many of you have remembered the flower that grows on the side of the road 1 kilometre from your house?  It’s nothing.  We are the same, we are nothing and God is everything.  As we realise this condition, we can relate with Jesus the better.  What were we created from?  The dust and God knows our frame.  He remembers that we are but dust.  When the dust becomes proud, God can see afar off.  God can sense pride a far way off.  Dust is dust.  It’s very obvious to God.  Here we are in our dust condition.  We are just a flower which fades away the next day.

Isaiah 2:10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. 11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the LORD of hosts [shall be] upon every [one that is] proud and lofty, and upon every [one that is] lifted up; and he shall be brought low: 13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, [that are] high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,

This scripture is talking about what Revelation 18 tells us to avoid.  To hide, enter into the rock and hide thee in the dust.  What does that mean?  To hide in the rock?  All these trees that grew as the water was there, abundance of water.

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

Who is this speaking of?  It’s speaking of the lofty one that creates all things.  It’s speaking of Jesus.  He was to come to earth and grow where?  Out of the dry ground.  What do you grow out of dry ground?  Dust.  There was not much water.  It’s only a tender plant.  Looking at all the cedars of Lebanon and all the huge trees and God became a tender plant out of the dry ground where there was no life and one shoots forth.  This is Jesus experience and we must look to him as our example.  He was in a high position and he showed how we are to humble ourselves.  Jesus is our example in all things.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

He was equal with God.  He laid his reputation with God.  Nothing to gain but the lost.  If God wanted to gain something, he would created another world.  He wouldn’t bother with us.  Coming to earth, he had nothing to gain but that which was lost.  No reputation.  Then being a man, he humbled himself.  If Jesus had come in the innocence and glory of Adam, that would have been an incredible humiliation.  But to come after the fall, and suffer the cross, how low can you go.  All this to set the example.  As Christians we need to realise there is nothing to gain.  We are paying a debt.  That debt we can’t pay anyway.  Even with all our obedience, it doesn’t give us right to the tree of life.  For us to be obedient, is not to gain something but to have a relationship, that’s all.  When Jesus came to this earth, how did he feel about himself and the work which he had done?  How does this compare with what we do for God?

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God.

When we do missionary work do we sometimes get a sense of wow, look at what I’m doing?  Jesus looks at the fruits of the cross and there’s nothing.  I’ve done this for nothing. That is the feeling that can come over you.  But he commits his labours to God.  I’ve done the will of God.  The love of the world and the love of the Father are two different things.  The pride of life has nothing to do with doing Gods service because at the end of our Christian work, all we can say is we are unprofitable servants.  We haven’t made a profit, we haven’t paid our debt because Jesus paid it. All we’ve done is what we were told and asked to do.  Because of this realisation of his loneliness in which he humbled himself he had an intense sense of his need for the Father.  This came through in Hebrews 5 in the way which he prayed.

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

This is true humility.  When you can pray to God as you have no other helper.  No reputation can help you, only God.  In that situation we realise how low we are.  As we obey, it’s not so we can be patted on the back, we are in debt for what Jesus has done.  We are in debt further because of the expense Jesus spent to save us.  We know the story of Cain and Able. Cane brought the fruits of the ground.  The joy and pride that comes with being able to give someone something that you grew.  The vegetables were made to be eaten.  The lamb, for food and clothing.  Cain said, I have to kill it?  There’s nothing for us to do in our Babylonish heart.  It is to die.

Go to Gethsemane, and their watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul. {COL 196.4}

Instead of being a tall poppy our work is to raise others up.  That is our work.  That is what Christ came to do.  Humanity being lifted up wants to lift itself up more and it has such a wrong idea.  Babylon has made inroads in our lives into everything we do.

When we see Jesus, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, working to save the lost, slighted, scorned, derided, driven from city to city till His mission was accomplished; when we behold Him in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, and on the cross dying in agony,–when we see this, self will no longer clamor to be recognized. Looking unto Jesus, we shall be ashamed of our coldness, our lethargy, our self-seeking. We shall be willing to be anything or nothing, so that we may do heart service for the Master. We shall rejoice to bear the cross after Jesus, to endure trial, shame, or persecution for His dear sake.  {DA 439.3}

If we do not understand the nature of Christ, we cannot do heart service for God.  If the nature of Christ is missing, everything is done with a Babylonish heart.  When we see Jesus as a man of sorrows, when we see this, self will no longer clamour to be realised.  That is the remedy. That is how God solves the problem. The express image of his person laid in the dust.  The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity. To dwell with the contrite ones.  This is what Jesus wanted to do.  There was nothing to gain but that which was lost.  Jesus has bound himself to the human frame forever.  The third of angels that fell he did not gain back but to redeem as much as he could.  For us to do our work, needs to be heart service.  When we can go out and labour for souls and expect nothing but trial and be happy with that and rejoice in that, then God will use us.  How can we rejoice when self is blind?  When the tall poppy syndrome is clamouring in our hearts?  We can’t do heart service for God at all.

There are toils and conflicts and self-denials for us all. Not one will escape them. We must tread the path where Jesus leads the way, it may be in tears, in trials, in bereavement, in sorrow for sins, or in seeking for the mastery over depraved desires, unbalanced characters, and unholy tempers. It requires earnest efforts to present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. It takes the entire being, complete consecration, entire submission. There must be no chamber of the mind where Satan can hold sway, and carry out his devices. Self must be crucified. Sacrifices must be made that will seem like taking the very life-blood from the heart.  {GW92 470.2}

Who led the way?  Jesus led the way.  He was clothed in dust.  He was a tender plant, in all the forest, of all the trees, there was this little plant, the son of God.  How many of us would have tread on it.  No water, let’s go to the forest. As Christians when we realise the path we must travel, that we are to be nothing as we are nothing, then we shall have rejoicing.  When sorrow comes to us, it’s what we expected.  Anything that is above the depth of the soul, it is a privilege for us.  If we are persecuted, praise the lord.  When we realise we should be dead and gone, then we can have thankfulness.  Jesus led the way.  He got the mastery over all depraved desires that were in his flesh.  This is the chamber that God can give us the victory over.

When self dies, there will be awakened an intense desire for the salvation of others,–a desire which will lead to persevering efforts to do good. There will be a sowing beside all waters; and earnest supplication, importunate prayers, will enter heaven in behalf of perishing souls. There will be an earnestness, a persistency, that will not let go. Love to Jesus will lead to ardent love for the souls of our fellow-men.  {GW92 470.3}

Our reputation has nothing to do with it.  Nothing.  To be an international missionary society, we have to have the nature of Christ otherwise we are a international self-seeking society.  It’s all we are. As we come to our debt, and we see Jesus right there, who is the high and lofty one, how high is God?  Think of his power in all his majesty and he’s there in the dust next to you dying, on a cross, then we can work for souls not expecting anything.  Not expecting praise or thank you.  Then we can truly be happy in every circumstance.  To be happy in everything and never to complain or murmur or repine.  Israel forgot and they were some of the haughtiest people on the earth.  Seventh day Adventism can be there with them too.  If we do not humble our hearts.  God is giving us grace to humble our hearts.  We are to resist the devil.  Everything has to do with pride, we must resist it.  God wants us all to rise to a height that is equal.  That is the stature of Christ as it says in Ephesians.  We are all to come to the same stature, no one above anyone.  That stature is higher than we really should be.  God with his mercy, will raise us up.  Christ is our example in all things.

As Christ is our example in all things, if we imitate His example in earnest, importunate prayer to God that we may have strength in His name who never yielded to the temptations of Satan to resist the devices of the wily foe, we shall not be overcome by him.  {SD 136.3}

Amid the perils of these last days, the only safety of the youth lies in ever-increasing watchfulness and prayer. The youth who finds his joy in reading the Word of God, and in the hour of prayer, will be constantly refreshed by drafts from the fountain of life. He will attain a height of moral excellence and a breadth of thought of which others cannot conceive. Communion with God encourages good thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and lofty purposes of action. Those who thus connect themselves with God are acknowledged by Him as His sons and daughters. They are constantly reaching higher and still higher, obtaining clearer views of God and of eternity, until the Lord makes them channels of light and wisdom to the world. . . . The strength acquired in prayer to God will prepare us for our daily duties.  {SD 136.4}

There is a mighty power in prayer. Our great adversary is constantly seeking to keep the troubled soul away from God. An appeal to Heaven by the humblest saint is more to be dreaded by Satan than the decrees of cabinets or the mandates of kings. {SD 136.5}

We have gotten ourselves to a height in which we are content with.  God wants to cut us down so we can grow taller.  The height of the Babylonish mind God doesn’t want.  God wants to take us down as he has better heights.  Only through Christ can we obtain such a height.

1 Samuel 2:2 [There is] none holy as the LORD: for [there is] none beside thee: neither [is there] any rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let [not] arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD [is] a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty men [are] broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. 5 [They that were] full have hired out themselves for bread; and [they that were] hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. 6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifted up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

We can inherit Gods throne as princes.  That’s where God wanted us originally where we would be without having sinned. God is trying to restore us.  The debt has been paid.  Let God deal with us as he sees fit.  Let us never forget God in his position, both on his throne and with us.  May we never forget the dust of which we were created. Come out of Babylon and be not partakers of her sins in these last days, we have not much time.


Posted on November 6, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons For Sabbath and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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