Every one needs self-worth. We need to have worth both to ourselves and to others.
But there is a difference between life having “worth” and the “I” disease of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. What is the simplest lesson about the end of self-exalting pride from Proverbs?
Proverbs 16:1818Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
And from Jesus?
Matthew 23:1212And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Remember what Paul said, that this is the very natural human failing to which we are all inclined without exception.
Romans 12:33For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
About the only pride talked about in most “Christian” teaching is pride in thinking you can do something toward your own salvation, when “Jesus did it all.” It is an affront on Jesus who suffered so horribly to take away our sins. No worries about pride of grace, and face, and place! No worries about pride in their own accomplishments and the big ME that has invaded our culture.
But this is the pride the Bible addresses.
Jeremiah had advice on dealing with this pride monster in us. There are things to glory in—yes. And things NOT to glory in.
Jeremiah 9:23–2423Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
Quite naturally, one who has worked hard to acquire a line of knowledge will “feel good” about it—it is a distinction that makes him stand out from the rest, “above” or at least “apart” from others. But Jeremiah says, No, don’t glory in what you have learned.
One with exceptional physical strength will naturally glory in his might—again, he worked hard for it. But Jeremiah says, No, don’t glory in it.
And of course the one with riches wants the light of approval! But Jeremiah says, No, don’t go there. Like Moses said about the Israelites when they would prosper. What should they remember?
Deuteronomy 8:12–1412lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
It was prophetic—they WOULD forget God in their pride,
Deuteronomy 8:17–1817then you say in your heart, ‘MY power and the might of MY hand have gained me this wealth.’ 18“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.
Without what GOD has given us we would have NOTHING at all—knowledge, physical strength, or money! We forget too easily how totally DEPENDENT we are on God for His gifts. Like Paul wrote to the boasting Corinthians who felt so good about their great learning and excelling strength and wealth:
1 Corinthians 4:77For 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?
What about the END of it?
Isaiah 26:55For He brings down those who dwell on high, The lofty city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He brings it down to the dust.
And our verse from Proverbs again:
Proverbs 16:1818Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
We have a poem we would like to share. You have likely heard or read it before, but the lesson is always good to refresh.
Pride, ugly pride, sometimes is seen
By haughty looks and lofty mien:
But oftener, it is found that Pride
Loves deep within the heart to hide;
And while the looks are mild and fair,
It sits and does its mischief there.
Now if you really wish to find
If pride be lurking in your mind,
Inquire if you can bear a slight,
Or patiently give up your right.
Can you submissively consent
To take reproof and punishment
And feel no angry temper start
In any corner of your heart?
Can you at once confess a crime,
And promise for another time?
Or say you’ve been in a mistake;
Nor try some poor excuse to make,
But freely own that it was wrong
To argue for your side so long?
Flat contradiction can you bear;
When you are right and know you are,
Nor flatly contradict again,
But wait and modestly explain,
And give your reasons one by one,
Nor think of triumph when you’re done?
Can you in business or in play.
Give up your wishes or your way?
Or do a thing against your will .
For someone that is younger still,
And never try to overbear,
Nor say a word that is not fair?
Does laughing at you still provoke
Some anger, some revengeful note?
Or, when you find that you could do
The harm to them they did to you!—
Can you keep down the wicked thought,
And do exactly as you ought?
Put all these questions to your heart
And make it act a nobler part:
And when they’ve all been fairly tried,
I think you’ll own that you have Pride.
Some one will suit you, as you go,
And force your heart to tell you so:
But if they all should be denied,
Then you’re too proud to own your Pride.
Now I suppose that, having tried
And found the secret of your Pride,
You wish to drive it from your heart,
And learn to act a humbler part?
Well, are you sorry and sincere?
There is a way, I’ll make it clear.
The first, the best and surest way,
Is to kneel down at once and pray:
The lowly Savior will attend,
And strengthen you and stand your friend .
Tell Him the mischief that you find
Forever working in your mind;
And beg His mercy for the past,
And strength to overcome at last;
But then you must not go your way
And think it quite enough to pray :
That is but doing half your task ;
For you must watch as well as ask.
You pray for strength, and that is right;
But then it must be strength to fight:
For where’s the use of being strong,
Unless you conquer what is wrong?
Then look within, ask every thought,
f it be humble as it ought;
Put out the smallest spark of Pride
The very moment ‘tis descried;
And do not stay to think it o’er,
For, while you wait it blazes more.
If it should take you by surprise,
And beg you just to let it rise,
And promise not to keep you long,
Say, “No! the smallest pride is wrong . “
And when there’s something so amiss
That Pride says, “Take offence at this”;
Then if you feel at all inclined
To brood upon it in your mind,
And think revengeful thoughts within,
And wish it were not wrong to sin,
Oh, stop at once! for if you dare
To wish for sin, that sin is there!
Then go to God and meekly pray
For strength to put your Pride away!
Or, if just then you cannot go,
Pray in your thoughts, and God will know .
And beg His mercy to impart
That best of gifts—a humble heart .
Remember, too, that you must pray,
And watch, and labor, every day:
Nor think it wearisome or hard,
To be forever on your guard .
No; every morning must begin
With resolutions not to sin;
And every evening recollect
How much you failed in this respect .
Ask whether such a guilty heart
Should act a proud or humble part;
Or, as the Savior was so mild,
Inquire if Pride becomes God’s child :
And, when all other means are tried,
Be humble that you’ve so much Pride.
Paul made a very good statement about the right kind of pride that we all want:
2 Corinthians 10:17–18 17… “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
18For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
That is the commendation we want! Honor from GOD! That “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Pride has many faces. We see it everywhere we go. It is a force that often drives crime. Or we hear it expressed, “They are trying to take away my rights!”
Sometimes pride is so evident we can see it on one’s face. I am reminded of Prov. 6:16-19. “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 1.A proud look, 2. A lying tongue, 3. Hands that shed innocent blood, 4.A heart that devises wicked plans, 5. Feet that are swift in running to evil, 6. A false witness who speaks lies, 7. And one who sows discord among brethren.”
The very first on the list is a proud look; and when you think about it, the six evils following the “proud look” might be considered a byproduct of the “proud look” because “before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,” (Prov. 18:12.
Paul was a proud Pharisee who persecuted the Church of God (Gal. 1:13), but he was brought low, even knocked down. Can’t you feel the remorse in Paul’s words as he confesses, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Cor 15:9)? I can see the tears flowing down Paul’s face as he oftentimes looked his brethren in the eyes, confessing this awful deed. Those he once hated, he now loves; and those who once feared now would lay down their own lives for this beloved Apostle.
Let us work hard to get every hint of pride out of our lives, because “before honor is humility.”