Category Archives: pride/humility

… and in the darkness bind them

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Fantastic

G. K. Chesterton once wrote in the book Heretics, “We all believe fairy-tales, and live in them.”1

Think about it: our lives are based on dreams we have of our future, movie theaters bring in billions of dollars every year, and even Jesus spoke with fictional stories. We call those stories parables.

One of the greatest parables of the Twentieth Century was written by a friend of Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, and is titled The Lord of the Rings.

Bound

The main antagonist of the book, though barely ever seen, is Sauron. He considered himself pretty important.

To attempt to control the world, known as Middle Earth, he created rings for each of the species that had power: Elves, Dwarfs, and Men.

He had one more for himself, The One Ring. Inscribed in magical letters on the ring was this:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Sauron used the one tool to control others that he possessed and that he knew the other races possessed: pride.

There was just one thing he never expected: two little creatures with no agenda other than to protect their comfortable lives. He expected great armies to attack him, because he is so great there is nothing less they could do.

He did not expect two little hobbits to walk quietly through the back door, destroying all of his hopes and dreams in one quick second.

His pride trapped him in a way he never expected.

Satan’s Trap

That old Devil, Satan, attempted to take the rightful place of God. It was his pride getting in his way that caused him to be cast out of God’s presence. Eventually he will be cast into the Lake of Fire of eternal destruction.

He realizes it is not enough to attack God, so he created rings to give the (seemingly) most powerful beings on Earth.

Each ring looks different, but they use the same trick as Sauron’s: our pride.

Every time we give in to our pride, we side with Satan. Every time we side with Satan, we guarantee our destruction.

Great God, help us overcome our pride. Teach us true humility, that we may not fall away from Your grace and forgiveness but into Your loving arms.


Hand-in-Hand Pride

Proverbs 16:5

“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

We Are the World

How many of you were even alive when Michael Jackson came out with a song to unite the world in a spirit of giving? “We are the world…we are the children…we are the one’s who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…” It was 1985, the year I graduated high school.

I still remember the sight of just about every big-time musical artist of the day taking turns, each sing a measure or two, and all swaying together for a cause. What was the cause? Hunger in Africa. They wanted to feed the starving.

Sadly, even though the recording sold over 20 million copies, hunger continues to this day. They barely made a dent on the problem, but they felt good trying.

They could be proud.

Pride Abhorred

If you don’t already know, God hates pride (Prov. 6:17). Pride is the attitude that sets someone apart as better than his creator. It is the opposite of humility, and it is sin. It is the sin that tells God, “I don’t need you…I can do this myself!”

As a matter of fact, pride is a sin that demands recognition. It is not a sin that settles with obscurity; it must be seen and heard. Pride is the praise and worship chorus sung by humanity in the Church of Self. Is it any wonder the Lord hates it? Pride is idol worship.

Rights and Wrong

Pride leads the rebellious to demand his self-perceived rights. He demands of God what is pleasant, but refuses to bow a humble knee. He finds others to band together, join hand-in-hand, and sing “we are the world; You can do nothing to us!”

They even have “pride” parades.

Nevertheless, though they join hand-in-hand, hold conferences, gang up and flood the airwaves, or even cry with one loud voice, “There is no God!“; the wicked will be punished.

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

 


The Proud and the Widow

Proverbs 15:25 

“The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”

Here we have an example of two opposites: the proud who takes care of everything himself, and the poor, defenseless widow.

What Does God Think?

Well, first of all, God doesn’t think too highly of the proud, nor does He care too much for his mansion on the lake. God hates pride (Prov. 6: 16-17a), and He has holds no respect for what man builds in arrogance. Speaking of a man who built impressive new barns thought to guarantee his retirement, Jesus said, “Thou fool” (Luke 12:20).

“Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted…” – Isaiah 2:11 NLT

On the other hand, God cares about the widow. Actually, He cares a whole lot about widows, orphans, the helpless, and especially those who are taken advantage of. Don’t believe me? Read what He told Moses…

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” – Exodus 22:22-24

What Makes them Opposites?

What we have here in this verse is a comparison between the one who thinks nobody can touch his stuff and the one who does her best to keep what she has. The proud sits all snug in his castle, while the widow goes to sleep wondering if her property line will be the same in the morning.

The proud is the self-sufficient one who has everything in control and doesn’t need God. His house is secure, along with the inheritance he plans to pass on to his proud, snotty children.

The widow is the helpless woman whose land, left to her by her loving husband, is at risk of being stolen. All she has as proof of her property line are the stone markers set in the ground. Now that her husband is gone, she struggles with those who try to move them when she’s not looking.

What Does the Lord Have to Say?

The Lord has a message for both the widow and the proud. To the widow he says, “Don’t worry, dear. I will take the stones that mark your boundaries and “establish” them (natsab, to set firmly in place).  Not even dynamite will budge them.”

To the proud the Lord says, “I will be exalted, not the idol of a house you have built for yourself. You think you have everything figured out, don’t you? Well, guess what? I am going to pluck your house out of the ground (“destroy” is the Hebrew word nacach, meaning “to pluck out”) like you tried to do to that poor widow’s property line.”

Application?

We should never forget that God is always watching, examining our motives, and able to intervene at any time.

The proud are the most vulnerable, while the humble are protected.

 


Wise Love Scorned

Proverbs 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”

Needing Correction

There is something that needs to be understood about a scorner. A scorner is one who scorns things, meaning they do not like someone or something or find something unnecessary, perhaps even evil in their sight.

It is fair to say that God scorns evil. However, God does not qualify as a scorner.

You see, a scorner is one who is rarely happy. They usually complain. It might be fair to say that a scorner usually is only happy when they are complaining about something.

Scorners also tend to be those people who demand their own way. (Perhaps you remember my discussing working in customer service on Proverbs 8:20-21, 10:17, and 14:17?)

This, then, means that scorners often need to have an attitude adjustment. In other words, they need correction on their behavior. But how does a scorner respond?

I’m with stupid

The scorner looks at a person who offers a more proper way to interact with others and thinks how stupid that person is. Think about it: when a scorner throws a big enough fit, they tend to get what they want. They have learned the ways of this world, so how dare anyone tell them how to live!

The scorner even learns, eventually, that anyone who “knows better” is simply out to ruin their life. (See? Complaining.) If this is the case, they would never seek out a person who tries to show them the right way to live.

It should mean that they avoid Christians.

Wise Christian

If you call yourself a Christian yet often find yourself agreeing with those who complain the most, are you truly living correctly yourself?

The wise person knows that complaining and scorning others is not God’s will.

If we are quick to dismiss someone else’s correction, it means we think we are smarter than them.

If we are quick to demand our own way, it means we think we are better than others.

If we only ever seek to be friends with those who complain or dismiss others, it means we are not with the wise.

Pride causes us to dismiss other people and their advice. Pride tells us to surround ourselves with like-minded people who will always agree with us.

Pride leads us to scorn others.

Pride leads us to scorn God.

The wise Christian will heed the advice of others. The wise Christian will seek out wise counsel.

The wise Christian will know this is the will of God.

Heavenly Father, guide us in all wisdom, and help us to accept Your correction however and through whomever it comes. Do not let us live in our own pride; instead may we seek You!


Righteous or Disgraceful?

Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

America the Beautiful

The United States of America has been a pretty great place.

Many other nations have been defended with her military. Many freedoms have been advanced and celebrated. Many have come to the land of freedom with virtually nothing only to become wealthy and prosperous. More aid and missionaries have been sent out into the world than pretty much any other nation.

Because of all of these great things and more, millions of people try to get into the USA every year. These are amazing things, and others want a part of it!

The Great Satan

The United States of America has also become a nuisance.

Religious zealots around the world (primarily among Muslim extremist groups) have declared the USA “The Great Satan”. With all of our freedoms and accomplishments, they have been used to exploit each other and others. Moral superiority is claimed, yet those freedoms and accomplishments have become a log in the eye and a stumbling block. This “Christian nation” (as most other countries see it) also produces the most pornography and bigotry, exploits other nations for profit, and has some pretty backward laws and judicial decisions that create a culture the requires “Caution: Contents Hot” to be printed on coffee cups!

While greatly loved, the USA is also a bit of a global laughing-stock!

The Christian

Have you ever wondered why it seems the world is once again turning against the Church?

Christians have been called to a higher moral standard and a dedication to serving God by loving this fallen and hurting world. We are to be Christ to the nations.

The Western World has done a rather fantastic job of portraying a bunch of stuck-up, whiny, entitled hate-mongers who only love themselves and take advantage of others.

Fortunately, God always has a remnant of faithful followers (Romans 11).

And the funny thing about this remnant: they rarely have time to feel embarrassed or ashamed of those who make the Bride of Christ look bad. They are too busy loving everyone … including those who make the Bride of Christ look bad!

Choose today how you will live. Will it be as one who is righteous or disgraceful?

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and love. Thank You for saving us from our disgrace. Thank You for Your Word and Your Holy Spirit who guides us in all righteousness. Help us to choose You and walk in Your ways.


A Fool and His “Switch”

Proverbs 14:3

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
“A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.” – NIV

Pick Your Own

If the typical Child Protective Services agent of today had been around when I was a wee heathen, my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would have been hauled off to jail. My parents, especially my paternal grandmother, would have wound up on the front page of the newspaper. They would have made the evening news on television. The story would have read something like this…

Click on the picture. I’m sure the company won’t mind me doing a little advertising in return for using their t-shirt pic 😉

APNews. Mary Baker, the half-Cherokee grandmother of sweet little Anthony Baker, was arrested for gross child abuse, today. Mrs. Baker, widow of the late William Baker (saw mill owner; moonshine runner), was found to have left marks on cute little Anthony’s backside and buttocks with a “hickory switch.”

Left-wing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, liberal, hippie neighbors who somehow snuck into the neighborhood heard little Anthony screaming bloody murder and went to investigate. They reported seeing darling little Anthony bent over his grandmother’s knee as she mercilessly assaulted him with the large tree branch previously growing in the front yard.

According to the angelic little Anthony, his grandmother, upon hearing him backtalk her, told him to exit the house in order to retrieve said “switch.” When he didn’t return with the prescribed tool of abuse, Mrs. Baker sought him out, hewed down her own tree, then preceded to “wear him out.

Yes, when I was a child, you did not talk disrespectfully to your grandmother. If your mouth was bad enough you might even be made to pick your own tool of discipline – and it was wise to pick a big enough switch the first time.

A Fool’s Talk

Whenever I was about to get into serious trouble, my dad used to say, “Son, you’re cruising for a bruising.” Whenever I talked back (disrespectfully) to my parents, I was in danger of seeing stars (without a telescope). Therefore, it did not take long for me to learn how to control my tongue.

According to this proverb, though, a fool is pictured as having a rod (switch, branch, vine) growing out of his mouth. Because of his pride, the fool never learns from the consequences of his words. Every thing he says seems to come back and beat him.

The one who knows how to keep his mouth shut, however, is much more likely to be able to sit down without pain. At least that’s the way it used to be.

A Note for the Shocked

Please don’t misunderstand today’s proverb, nor my attempt at humor. No one here, especially myself, would advocate abusing a child. Corporal punishment should be administered in love, not anger, and only as a last resort.

The problem is that much of our society promotes “the mouth of the foolish.” Remember, “God is not mocked,” so the fool that runs off at the mouth today is still in danger of suffering from his words – one way or another.


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


“Wind Your Neck In”

Proverbs 12:16

“A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.”

The Wisdom of Fools

For a book of wisdom, Proverbs, and indeed the Bible, contains an awful lot of “fool observation.” Which is good, because I (and I am vainly assuming you) fall into the “fool” category more often than not. Today we look at the fool and vanity.

Defense Mechanisms

The Bible urges us not to think too highly of ourselves, but this is something most of us fall prey to. I’ll be honest I don’t just want you to like this post – I want you to love it. Because if you do I can gain some sense of validation from that, I will feel good. But just as we seek validation from the things we produce we also become extremely defensive when under attack. If something we have done or produced is received in the wrong way, a way we never intended then we feel that urge to defend ourselves, to point out the folly of the other person, and achieve our validation once again.

A Multi-Headed Beast

We see this played out in a variety of ways, be it the straight up insult, the person who disagrees with our beliefs, the more subtle manipulator, what ever it is we cry out for God for justice, and God’s advice – wind your neck in. How much time do we waste over arguments that can never be won? Defending our ultimately indefensible self? Oh we freely admit that we are up there will Paul as a “chief of sinners” but when it comes down to it our judgments prove this a fallacy.

The Wisdom of Job

Job had a lot to be annoyed about…unfairly treated by God, hung out to dry by his “friends”… but when God comes to question Job we find an echo of this proverb in his reply:

Job 40:4-5 – ‘“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer twice, but I will say no more.”

Next time you have been undermined, insulted, misunderstood, next time you have a burning desire to correct misunderstanding of your words, to defend you motives, to get annoyed at how wronged you have been – why not try being prudent for a change? It can’t hurt that much – can it?


Lego Lesson

Proverbs 12:15

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Let’s be honest, this is not a hard verse to understand, but extremely hard to follow. If a person thinks that they know it all, and that they have all the right answers, and that their way is better than everyone else’s, then they are pretty much a fool. Plain and simple! But before you get angry at me for saying this, don’t forget that these words are coming from the wisest man who ever walked on the earth.

The Fool

Many times as a teenager, my father would give me advice on how to handle situations that were coming up in my life. And as a very stupid kid, most of the time I did not listen to his wise counsel. Why? Because I thought that I knew how to handle the situation more than he did. I thought my way was right. I was too proud and thought that I knew what was best.

My father had every right to hand me the Bible and ask me to read about myself in Proverbs 12:15. I was a fool for not listening to his advice that he was willing to give to me to help me in tough times.

Oh, how I wish I had listen to my father!

A Lesson from Legos

Back in January of 2012 we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday. We had been asking her what she wanted for her birthday and she kept telling us Legos (a girl after my own heart!). A few months before, Lego came out with a new line of products just for girls called Lego Friends.

Well, her birthday came and we purchased her a part of the Lego Friends collection. We celebrated her birthday and the first thing she wanted to do was to open her new Legos and put them together.

I explained to her that it was very important that we read the instructions and follow each and every step. She promptly told me that she did not need my help and that she knew how to put everything together. I explained it to her again, but I got the same response.

I walked across the room from where she was gathering all of her pieces to put together and I sat there, watching her try to figure out where to start and what to do next. She got her instructions out and began to follow them step by step, until…

I had moved on to other things because she seemed to have everything under control. That was until I heard her scream for help. When I came into the room, she was trying to force a Lego into a section where it just did not want to go. She kept telling me, “This piece fits here, I just know it does”.

As I began to search out the problem, I realized that she had skipped several pages in the instruction manual and had just started to put pieces where she thought they needed to go. After a while, it caught up with her and caused problems.

Why did she have problems? Because she did not follow the instructions (advice or counsel) that were given to her. She thought her way was better!

Some of the best advice that I, or anyone else can give you is this, get advice! Get people in your life that are godly people and seek their counsel. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Don’t be a fool, seek wise counsel!