Tag Archives: humility

Adventures in Pride & Humility

Proverbs 29:23

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

A Secret Life

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to see the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Neither of us is particularly fond of Ben Stiller, but every so often he is in something we like watching him. This is one of those.

Walter Mitty is a quiet man who has a tendency to slip into daydreams and out of focus with reality. This occasionally leads to problems at work, in various conversations, and in his love life. When his job is endangered by a superior who is overconfident and displays this overconfidence by picking on weaker-willed individuals such as Walter, Walter sets out across the globe in a series of adventures to save his job at LIFE Magazine. Without spoiling the story too much, Walter finds a confidence he forgot he had, and his superior gets put in his place.

The Next Life

The difference in real life is that the consequences are far different.

If we live our lives overconfident of or full of pride in ourselves and what we can do, we can forget about God or think there is no need for God. This will bring us low … very low … to Hell. Eternal separation from God.

However, if we can live with humility, we will find honor. Humility is understanding the truth of ourselves, and the truth is that we need a Savior: Someone who understands us better than we ever could, knows that we are dreadfully sinful beyond our ability to overcome that sin, and was willing to take our punishment by dying on a cross. Jesus Christ took that punishment because He knows us so completely and loves us still.

If we are humble enough to know and accept this truth, we will be honored with Christ by the Father with eternal life!

Gracious Savior, thank You for Your love and sacrifice for our friendship. Help us to rid sinful pride from our hearts to be filled with true humility to seek You above ourselves and all else.

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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?


… 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.


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.

 


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.


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)


Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.