A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
Today’s big question: why are we commanded to be humble?
As humans, we tend to think of sins on a skewed scale of severity. Those outward actions taken against another human are considered worthy of a higher caliber of condemnation, while sinful thoughts are downplayed as being uncontrollable and not all that bad.
But the Bible tells us something entirely different. James explains that “whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). And a warning against pride can be found at the very heart of the first of the Ten Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
Pride, at its core, is the elevation of self. We even try to place ourselves above God by thinking, “I know better than God. I can do this on my own without His help.” This unwarranted confidence in self becomes the god we place above Yahweh.
But it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of pride is its tendency to develop into all other vices. Pride makes us think we deserve that which we do not have. This false belief leads to covetousness, thievery, adultery, hatred, and murder.
Was it not Satan’s pride which made him desire to be exalted above God? Was it not the pride of Adam and Eve which gave them the desire to be like God? And is it not pride and pride alone which causes men to reject the free gift of God’s salvation? C.S. Lewis called pride “the essential vice, the utmost evil . . . the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Furthermore, of all the sins we fight, pride is perhaps the most difficult to overcome. Benjamin Franklin, who was not a believer, gave some insight on this when he said that “even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
Perhaps you are now thinking, “What can I do to prevent this pride?” But that is the wrong question to ask. Can you see why? It again places the emphasis on you and on your own ability.
We recently considered the necessity of trusting in God for everything, and this is no exception. I cannot overcome pride by myself, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). If we consistently rely on God and give Him all the credit and all the glory, we will find that there is nothing left for which to praise ourselves.
Franklin may have, with some moderate success, been able to perform the first twelve of his “Thirteen Virtues.” But without Christ, he went to his grave having never conquered pride.
Today’s big idea: we must admit our own insufficiency and rely on God for all things.
What to pray: render all praise to the only One worthy of any.