Pride Goes Before Destruction
The Bible passage reads: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19)
It was pride that caused the downfall of our first parents. Adam and Eve fell into sin because they were proud enough to think that their own way (eating the forbidden fruit) was better than God’s way (obeying His command not to eat from that one tree). We all need to do the opposite and be humble enough to take our instructions from God and not proudly think that our own ways are better that His.
As Christians we call Jesus our Lord and that means that we try to follow Him. And it takes a certain amount of humility to follow and not lead. It takes humility to trust and obey. It takes humility to believe in Jesus. So we each need to develop a humble spirit (if we don’t have one already!) Scripture says: “…He will beautify the humble with salvation.” (Psalm149:4b)
The Bible tells us that some people don’t believe in Jesus because they don’t want to change their ways of living. Jesus is the Light of the world and some folks don’t want to come to the Light since they would need to give up their darkness. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict, that Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:17-19)
I think it takes a certain amount of humility to be willing to let Jesus take away our darkness and change us. And since He won’t force us to change-to repent, we need to keep working on staying open and humble so that He can do His work in us. Scripture says: “He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His ways. (Psalm 25:9)
Jesus told one of His famous parables about the problems of pride and the importance of a humble spirit. Let’s listen. “And He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men - extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you the truth, this man went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18;9-14)
In Jesus’ story, the Pharisee had obeyed all of the commandments. He wasn’t an adulterer or an extortionist like other men. He reminded God that he was certainly better than the tax collector praying nearby! He fasted and gave tithes. His religion was based on the merit system and he was proud of his high score. Shouldn’t God be impressed?
But Jesus corrects the mistaken idea that all God wants from us are our good deeds. God cares more about the attitude of our hearts Jesus is saying. The Pharisee was proud of himself for being so good. But our righteousness is a gift from God. Scripture says: “But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled;…” (Matthew 23:12)
And our poor tax collector! He won’t even raise his eyes to heaven. Bowing low and beating his breasts he begs God to be merciful to him, a sinner. But Jesus tells us that his prayer was answered and his sins were forgiven by God. Scripture tells us that God hears our prayers when we are humble. “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
There is a Quaker hymn that goes something like this: “Tis a gift to be humble, tis a gift to be free. Tis a gift to come down where one ought to be.” There is a joy and a freedom in being humble and it is a good gift. The Holy Spirit will give us this gift of humility if we will take it. And we need to take it because we won’t please God without it.