By Naomi Cassata
When our pride is wounded, it can be damaging to our egos. When we think of someone who is prideful we often think of someone who is rich and famous. People who have something to be proud about! Funny thing about pride is that it does not pick its victims solely based on their position. Instead, pride looks for vulnerable victims who will believe in a lie.
The pride I’m referring to is not the type of pride we have in our children’s accomplishments or patriotism in our country. Rather, the type of pride that exalts oneself above another whether mentally, verbally or physically. Dictionary.com defines it this way “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” Note it is only an opinion and not a fact about the person. Everyone came into the world through the same means and will eventually die. There is nothing special about any one person that makes them more wonderful than another. Anything we have, we were given; anything we accomplish was by God’s grace.
Pride thrives off of human insecurity. When Jesus faced opposition from the Pharisees, behind every robe was a heart of insecurity. They feared the people would hold Jesus in higher esteem than they would them. They enjoyed the admiration they received from the people and were not willing to let it go to someone they alleged a “common man.”
When pride grips its victim, it holds on tightly and does not easily release them.
When we hear about the woes of pride, we often point the finger at others. We wouldn’t dare accuse ourselves as being arrogant. That title is reserved for those in power or more pointedly those who have exercised their personal authority over us. Pride is not easily identified when we look into our own lives. It’s much easier to point it out in our neighbor. It hides itself in its victims and distorts our view of others. Many a time, we are so busy looking at the faults of others that we are blinded to our own faults. Focusing on other people’s shortcomings makes us feel better about ourselves because like the Pharisee in the temple, who looked down on the tax collector, we think we are nothing like those people and place ourselves in a more righteous state (Luke 18:11). In reality, we are in a more pitiful state than they are.
Pride tells us that we are prettier, smarter, more righteous or more worthy than anyone else God created; and therefore, we must be “better” than them. Anytime we have lifted ourselves up above someone else, all we have really done is fallen into pride. Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). A prideful heart will always precede a fall. Allowing us to fall is God’s way of humbling us in hopes that we will see our pride for what it is, “sin,” and repent.
Pride Promotes Rebellion
God hates pride. It was pride that was behind Lucifer’s rebellion, King Saul’s act of disobedience when engaged with the Amalekites and King Nebuchadnezzar’s haughty heart. They all gloried in themselves by taking the focus off of God’s sovereignty and placing it on their own glory. They thought they were something they were not. They exalted themselves to a level they were never meant to be. Sure God was the one to give them their original position, but they took their “glory” to a realm God never intended: One that exceeded God’s authority and into a self-centered realm. What proceeded all three of them shortly after? They all fell from their original God-given positions. Satan was cast out of heaven, King Saul was dethroned and King Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal for seven years. God never turns a blind eye to prideful rebellion especially those who are in authority.
Surprisingly, King Nebuchadnezzar’s story doesn’t end there. At the end of the seven years, he humbled himself and gave honor to God (Daniel 4). He came to himself and realized there is nothing great in himself, and it is God that exalts and humbles the men of the earth. Nebuchadnezzar says it all here, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (v.37). I would definitely say he learned his lesson.
It is God who raises up and brings down. A humble heart is God’s prerequisite for promotion. God reminded King Saul, through Samuel, that it was when he was humble in his own eyes that God promoted him to be king (1 Samuel 15:17). Ironically, it was his pride that caused him to lose favor with God and die an untimely death. When we think we have arrived, we are ripe for a fall.
A Humble Heart
Pride will never get us far. To think that we are something by comparing ourselves to others, will only fill our heart with envy and conceit against our neighbor which will result in rebellion against God. When pride is in full force, it cannot see others through the eyes of love as Jesus commanded. We cannot love others when we “think” we’re better than them. When walking in love, it will cause us to see people the way God sees them rather than how we judgmentally perceive them.
Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). When looking at others we ought to perceive them in the same way we would want to be judged without jealousy, bitterness, arrogance or being hypercritical.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14).
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