Pride Comes Before A Fall

Proverbs 21:24

Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.

How many of us have been warned in the past that pride comes before a fall? The saying is said to come from Proverbs 16:18 but there is a clearer definition of this age-old warning in Wiktionary: ‘A person who is extremely proud of his or her abilities will often suffer a setback or failure, because he or she tends to be overconfident and to make errors of judgment.’

Followers of boxing will be aware that fighters who swagger from the dressing room to the ring and ridicule their opponents often have cause to eat humble pie at some point during a fight. In some cases face meets canvas within seconds of the bell for the opening round. Whether down to overconfidence or basic errors in judgment, the result is the same. Members of the sporting press usually ridicule such falls from grace in fight reports, while the Internet means that the falls of the proud are recorded for posterity on YouTube.

Perhaps the writer of this proverb was talking about a different type of pride? The sort of pride that says man is all there is, and that God does not exist? The Psalmist calls such a person a fool: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.’ (Psalm 14:1/Psalm 53:1 NIV). If we deny God, then it could be argued that we are proudly elevating man to a position where he does not belong. Can man create a universe? Of course not. He can only speculate on how the universe came into existence. Sadly, many people spend hours engaged in proud but foolish speculation concerning the existence of God instead of humbly surrendering to Him and giving to God what is His. Paul spoke about this indirectly while teaching about the foolishness of loving money:

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:3-7, 20-21 NIV)

What is the condition of your heart reader? Are you a proud fool heading for a fall, or a humble servant surrendered to God and wealthy beyond imagination in God’s promise of eternal life?

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About David

David is the son of Ken and father of Nick, who first introduced him to blogging. Ken is a retired Baptist Minister who continues to preach regularly, despite being in his eighties. Nick is training for full time Baptist ministry after several years serving as a youth pastor. Somehow the being a preacher thing skipped a generation with David. Although half Scottish David grew up in England and in the Channel Island of Guernsey. He served in the British Merchant Navy after leaving school, and did not attend University until he was twenty-eight years old. By this time he was married to Marilyn and father to Nick, and Nick’s brother Michael. Another son (James) was born the day before the start of David’s final University examinations. Beth and John followed a few years later. The older boys are all married, and David and Marilyn have been presented with four grandsons to date. Beth is currently serving with British Youth for Christ as leader of the Nomad cage football team (Google it!) having spent the previous two years as a volunteer member of the Nomad team. John, who is 17, is now the only one of our children still living at home. David and Marilyn met in 1973 and have been married since 1979. Marilyn is a trained nurse, who gave up nursing to be a full time mother, grandmother, and maker of cakes for pastors, youth pastors, and any church function that needs cakes. There is a rumour that she secretly reads David’s blogs. Family and church leave little time for hobbies, but David enjoys walking and cycling, and listening to music. He also dabbles with languages and is currently learning to speak Welsh. (By way of explanation the Welsh border is 11 miles from David's home, and his water bills arrive in both English and Welsh from Dŵr Cymru.) View all posts by David

4 responses to “Pride Comes Before A Fall

  • Valarie

    This was very thought provoking. Thank you and God bless you today!

  • Anthony Baker

    Funny how Uzzy was “out” before he hit the ground. The consequences of pride can have a person feeling that everything is fine all because they haven’t yet hit the mat. What they don’t understand is they’re already in a free fall.

  • smokesagoodpipe

    I would take the definitions of “Pride” even further to include anyone who claims absolute knowledge independently of faith. The increasingly shallow apologetics trade is just as guilty of this kind of pride as the most grossly militant kind of atheism since it continually tries to “prove” god to people. Remember that logic and science are human constructions and thus extensions of our sinful natures and so they cannot be trusted to bring us to God. If we could know God by reason, as the early gnostics thought, then the revelation of Jesus is not the only way to know God the Father. Contrast this with what Paul says in Galatians 1:
    “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    It is only through Christ that we know God, and we know Christ by faith. In John 20, Jesus says to Thomas:
    “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    He says that we need faith to know him, not sight – a message repeated by the writer of Hebrews when he says:
    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Notice that when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, it was because they wanted to be like God. Absolute knowledge is the property of the Almighty Lord and anyone who claims to have it without his permission has a false pride which is always followed, as Solomon knew and as Adam and Eve discovered, by a fall.

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