Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
I love reading Aesop’s fables, those wise and humorous narratives, told by a Greek slave thousands of years ago. They live on as classics because human nature remains constant over time. Not only do these fables entertain, but have a clever way of allowing us to view fault within ourselves through the actions of animals behaving like us!
One tale speaks of a battle where two roosters “duked it out” for barnyard supremacy! The victor flew to the roof of the barn, strutted to the edge in order to be seen by all, and with his chest puffed out and his head held high, he began his victorious, boastful crow! Then, from out of nowhere, an eagle swooped down and carried him away! At that moment, the defeated bird became the unchallenged master of the farmyard. Moral: The enemy is often defeated by his own pride!
Didn’t you love it when that noisy rooster was silenced? I know I did! I think most of us, if we are honest, dislike bragging and turn away from people who, in our view, constantly elevate self. Those actions definitely point to a problem with pride.
The rooster’s pride is easy to recognize and dislike, but so often, our own personal problems with pride can be quite deceptive. I can easily spot it in others; yet find much difficulty recognizing it in my own heart. One day, I had a “V8 moment” with Jesus regarding my own pride. My feelings of inferiority and the desperate need to be validated by others was nothing more than a manifestation of pride’s poison.
Pride certainly is a perplexing problem for all humans. I’m not talking here about a healthy sense of self-respect, but our innate desire to be center as life revolves around us! Pride can manifest as a puffed up sense of my own importance, power, success, or brilliance! Frankly it’s a total preoccupation with self! It can provoke others, promote prejudice, prohibit peace, perpetuate unrest, and if left unattended, its ultimate price is eternal separation from God.
Our natural inclination is toward pride, but God’s antidote is humility! The ultimate example is found in Jesus who, in humility, left heaven’s glory to save us from the ultimate consequence of sin. We all have the choice to accept or reject this free gift offered in love. Boasting, except in Christ, has no place at the foot of the cross. Christ did for us what no one can accomplish in human strength. (Ephesians 2:1-8)
Scripture tells us to humble ourselves. (1 Peter 5:6-7) This action, unlike saving ourselves, is within our control. Humility recognizes its own helplessness, confesses sin and relinquishes self-rule in favor of God’s way. Humility on our part is necessary for salvation. We must see ourselves as we truly are before God in order to acknowledge our need for a savior. Max Lucado had these words to say about pride. “God resists the proud because they resist God. Arrogance will not admit to sin. Pride will not confess, repent, or ask for forgiveness. Pride is the hidden reef that shipwrecks the soul.” Pride’s price for some will indeed be eternal separation from God who desires that none should perish apart from His love! (2 Peter 3:1-9)
Unfortunately, due to human nature, you and I will always battle with pride. Its toxic effects not only contaminate our own effectiveness, but can transmit hurt and brokenness to those we love most. Fortunately, God, the Great Physician, provides a remedy! God’s prescription for keeping pride at bay includes the following:
Heavenly Father, You know us. You know our struggles. You have made Your way known and it’s Your desire that we walk in it. Our pride, Father, takes the Glory that is Yours and attempts to place it upon ourselves. Forgive us and let us pray these ancient words of King David, “Search me God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
“None are so empty as those who are full of themselves.” Benjamin Whichcote
Listen to Jeremy Camp’s Lay Down My Pride.