Pride: Worthless. Deadly.

We are all born with one type of pride or another. It is part of the “survival package” we receive at birth. We are all different, but if we didn’t have an instinct to justify our existence, the race would soon die out. We need some type of “look at me” instinct to survive.

But once we mature and get a sane view of life, and learn what God is looking for in us, we (hopefully) get a different view of things. The instinct is “all about ME,” but maturity brings us to realize we are NOT the center of the universe, that everything doesn’t revolve around “ME”, though the modern culture keeps emphasizing this misguided thinking. But even by our very nature, God’s view and the human view are at odds, as far apart as heaven and earth.

What does God say?

Isaiah 55:8–9 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.

Let’s go to Psalm 49 to get a level look at God’s view. The Psalmist’s point is very obvious, still we need to be reminded. Let us start with verse 6.

Psalm 49:6–20 6Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches,

Notice immediately that the problem is not the wealth but the TRUST and the BOAST in it. As Jesus said after the conversation with the Rich young ruler,

Mark 10:24 24 “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

Continuing with Psalm 49:6:

6Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, 7None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him— 8For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever— 9That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit. 10For he sees wise men die; Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, And leave their wealth to others.

Money cannot give life! Nor does education or knowledge or fame. Verse 11:

11Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, Their dwelling places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names.

How many Queen Victoria highways are there in Canada! How many Kennedy boulevards in the US. How many Washington Avenues and Lincoln drives. But the original owners of the names know nothing about them!

Verse 12:

12Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish.

What does it mean to be “in honor”? To be honorable in reputation, well respected, renowned. But whatever one’s honor, all die, and all in death are totally unknowing, “like the beasts that perish.” Verse 13:

13This is the way of those who are foolish, And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah

Men may approve and commend, but that changes nothing.

Verse 14:

14Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.

Nothing commending here. BUT – note the next phrase. A complete change in tone. Verse 15:

15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah

The Psalmist says “Selah” – a musical marker that says, “Pause.” Catch your breath! This is a GREAT thought! Here is HOPE, PROMISE, CERTAINTY: a promise of RESURRECTION and LIFE to come.

Verse 15 again:

15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah

So he continues, verse 16:

16Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; 17For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.

Our instinct to pride, he says, is a vain, useless prop. It may feel good for the moment, but it won’t hold us up. Worse still, it will take us down. It is deadly.

The glory is only for a moment.

I am reminded of an elderly business executive who was writing to younger colleagues, and asked them the question: “Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?” If they didn’t get it pre-coronavirus, it may be a long time coming!

Continuing with verse 18:

18Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),

We see this all the time, men have praise for those who succeed. But what is God’s view of success? Verse 19:

19He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see light. 20A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.

How important is it to know God’s view of us, and even more, to apply it! The Psalmist says that one without “understanding,” who does not “depart from evil” (Job 28:28) and “go in the way of understanding” (Prov 9:6) has NO future. He dies “like the beasts that perish.”

Not complimentary. Statements like this show definitely that the Bible was not written by man, because it does not carry man’s thoughts!

Where is the place for pride? Nowhere. There is a saying that the angels find nothing more contradictory than a “proud mortal.”

Psalm 49:19 also shows that one might be honorable, self-respecting, “polite” or kindly, what we would call “good people,” but if they die without the true “understanding,” they will never be brought back. “They shall never see light.”

What is the end of pride? Prov. 16:18 says it simply. Let’s all repeat it together:

Proverbs 16:18  18Pride goeth before destruction, And an haughty spirit before a fall.

Deastruction. A Fall. There are probably several hundred passages in Scripture that show us the end of pride, but I would like to read a couple from Isaiah the prophet.

Isaiah 2:11, 12,17 11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12For the day of the Lord of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, Upon everything lifted up— And it shall be brought low— 17The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; The Lord alone will be exalted in that day,

By allowing anything to feed our pride, we lose. God will have the last word. As Jesus said,

Matthew 23:12  12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

It is an inborn trait we all have to work against, because

James 4:6 6…”God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

That grace is the great eternal prize of immortality Christ comes to bring. As Peter said,

1 Peter 1:13 13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you [the great eternal reward] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Can we accept the humbling experiences in our lives gracefully and gratefully? They are really opportunities to grow God’s way. For the REAL exaltating to immortality! How foolish to pursue something worthless… and worse, something deadly! As Paul said to the self-exalting Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 4:7 7For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Just stop and think: We are totally helpless without God to give us minds, bodies, strength, energy, and everything else we have!

One final verse from the apostle Peter—his brethren had the same instincts we have.

1 Peter 5:6–7 6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Who wants to exchange the eternal crown for a bit of paltry, fleeting satisfaction here! Let go the pride – it isn’t worth keeping! Not a speck of it! 

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