Many of us enjoy showing off our strengths in life to those around us: physical strength from time spent working out; intellectual ability from time spent learning about the things around us; or the capacity to excel at memorizing scripture from time spent with our Bibles. Perhaps even our resourcefulness in reaching out to the poor and needy around us; time and/or money spent in helping others; or maybe our devotion to our church and church family.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to excel at things in this life, we must take care to keep our pride in check, and not let it cause us to put ourselves upon a pedestal far above where we should be. Most of us know all too well the saying “pride goeth before a fall”; this loosely translates Proverbs 16: 18, which says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Verse 19 goes on to add, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs has many scriptures that let us know exactly how our Heavenly Father sees pride and humility. In Proverbs 11:2 it says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” In Proverbs 18:12 we find, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” And in chapter 29, verse 23, it continues with, “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
Proverbs is not the only place we learn of pride versus humility in the sight of God. Romans 12:16 tells us, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” 1 John 2:16 adds, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” And in 1 Timothy 6:17 we are told, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy”. And we cannot forget that real love does not have room for vanity or pride, because 1 Corinthians 13:3-4 tells us, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up”.
God has chosen the opposite of worldly values to confound those who would glorify themselves in His presence. In 1 Cor. 1:26-31, we read, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, ‘He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’” And again in 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, we are told, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” I know it is easy to read these scriptures and think to yourself that you are one of the wise or noble ones that God has chosen, but don’t let pride rear its ugly head here either. God chose you because, in your weakness and humility, He could use you. When pride gets in the way, you become a hindrance to God’s work rather than an asset.
When God sent Samuel to anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse, Samuel thought to approve or reject each of the sons based upon his outward appearance. When he saw Eliab, he thought for sure that God’s anointing would be upon him, but God told him, in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” When Samuel followed God’s instructions, he found that God had placed His anointing upon the youngest son of Jesse, who went on to become King David.
There is a fine line when dealing with pride and we must be careful not to cross that line. When we boast, let our boasting be to glorify our Heavenly Father for all His mighty works, for His righteousness and judgment, and for His love, mercy, and grace. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich many glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight’, saith the LORD.”
King Nebuchadnezzar found out just how God felt about his attitude of pride in the fourth chapter of Daniel. Despite being warned in a dream, which was then interpreted by Daniel, to shun his pride and riches and seek after the righteousness of God, King Nebuchadnezzar puffed himself up with pride and stated, in Daniel 4:30, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” The chapter goes on to state that in the same hour, Nebuchadnezzar was driven from the palace and, for the next seven years, “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws” (v. 33). At the end of that time, God restored the mind of the king, along with his kingdom, and in verses 34-37, we read, “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, ‘What doest Thou?’ At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.”
So, when things are looking up and you find yourself doing well, rather than being filled with pride for your own accomplishments, be sure to thank the One who blessed you with the ability to do the things done or be where you are. Let us boast on our Heavenly Father, and upon His goodness toward us. Let us do as we read in Psalms 34:1-3, which says, “I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Grace and blessings on your path,