“But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 (NLT)
I am going to be honest – this is something I deal with on a DAILY basis and I suck at it.
I am not going to even attempt to convince you that I am the most humble person on the planet of the earth, because then that would just tell you that I am possibly the most prideful. It is not that I brag about my accomplishments, because that is not something I do. It is more along the lines that I try my best to be right all of the time and if you try to convince me that I am wrong, it is on like Donkey Kong.
I COULD blame it on growing up with a family of 6. Although I had a wonderful mother and father, I had argumentative brothers and sisters. I could blame it on the rest of my family having an expectation of excellence in all of the children of our generation. I could even blame it on the mindset of being an american. But then I would be fooling myself and trying to fool you.
This is how pride is. Pride is unique in the way that it presents itself. Pride is also unique in that it attacks us when we are on the top of our game. Once we score that 34 on the ACT, pride slips in and tells us to relax instead of studying for our next big test. When we get that huge job promotion that gives us a 6 digit salary, pride tries to convince us to buy that $170,000 car that we can’t really afford. When we are having a great month in saving money, pride slips in and convinces us to buy us something extra this month.
See, pride comes into play when we close our big deals. It is the Trojan horse of sin. It is a false gift that comes wrapped in success.
There are two sides to this sword: the satisfaction with self, and the feeling of superiority; but they typically fall hand-in-hand. Once you start to feel satisfied with yourself, you can develop a superior attitude.
As I said earlier, pride tends to come wrapped up with success in the best times of our lives, but if we let pride take hold, it can lead us to the worst times of our lives. Pride convinces us that we don’t need to listen to other’s advice or suggestions. It convinces us that we don’t need to have an accountability partner or a mentor because there are people worse off than us. It lessens our natural warnings. It makes us see ourselves as different from others, deserving of special treatment and able to make our own rules. Once that happens, it is only a matter of time before we fall.
The prouder we become, the more destructive and dangerous the fall will be.
In the bible (2 Kings, 2 Chronicles), we find a King by the name of Uzziah who is the poster child for pride. He enters the story by being appointed king of Judah at the age of 16. It says, “4 He did right in the Lord’s sight, to the extent of all that his father Amaziah had done. 5 He sought after God (in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the things of God) and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”
Did you catch that part?
As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.
This almost tells us through context exactly what the fate of this young king was. But lets talk about his beginnings. God blessed the King beyond belief. He was so blessed, his army was the strongest of the land and his farming incentives yielded the most food (which, in turn, fed his massive cities and armies). He was the riches of the kings and did the most for his people. But then his heart, when he was on top of the world, started to whither. He started to think to himself, “Maybe it is through me that I am successful.” Through that simple thought, we find the King’s fall.
And it was devastating. He missed the mark. He missed the whole point of our success, of our very being – all of us and our accomplishments were from God and they were for God. But he began to trust in himself instead of in God, and because of pride he became an outcast, thrown out through the very, very public sight of his sin.
The King thought he could get away with his sin and he started to believe that the rules of the universe did not apply to him. He wouldn’t listen to anything anyone would try to tell him. In fact, the priest of the temple (where he committed his final sin before being cast out) tried to spare him and give him an opportunity to repent and renew his right to the throne, but he sided with pride. He did not realize that our only defense from pride is humility. See, part of being humble is to admit fault; to admit that we messed up royally.
True humility is actually founded in truth.
Truth. It is a hard mark! Let me create a contrast. What I don’t mean is the fake kind of humility – no, not the kind where we practice talking about how we are not good at something, secretly hoping they will say that we actually are. I call this downplaying our abilities. Almost like a depressing, “I’m not good at anything,” kind of statement.
No, it is founded in the truth that when we are honest with our accomplishments and where they originate from, we are not proud, but are thankful. It is only when we are like the King and begin to claim the glory for ourselves as if they come from our own power and cleverness instead of giving it to the one who truly deserves it.
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