Scripture references from translations as noted
Luke 18:9-14 in The Message reads like this as Jesus is speaking: “He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ ‘Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’ Jesus commented, ‘This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.’”
I believe that it is human nature for us to lean toward being proud – we might be proud of our appearance, we might be proud of our success in our occupation of choice, we might be proud of our possessions, we might be proud of who our friends are, etc. – you get the idea.
We need to be very cautious about allowing too much pride to permeate our thoughts and behavior. In the NIV, Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10 says “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 29:23 says “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”
When we get too full of ourselves about anything, we are setting ourselves up for potential disappointment, pain, maybe even failure.
A perfect example of this is in Daniel 4 (NIV). King Nebuchadnezzar has become a very powerful and wealthy man and apparently also very proud. He has a dream that Daniel interprets for him that tells of his upcoming demise. In verse 27 Daniel encourages the king to change his ways and do what is right. But apparently his advice fell on deaf ears. A year later all that was foretold happened. Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and ended up living out on the land with the animals – even eating grass. After a period of time he finally turned his eyes back to God and at that time he regained his sanity. We are told in verse 34b that the first thing he did was praise, honor and glorify God. Once his eyes were on God where they should be, instead of on himself, he was restored to his throne and he became even greater than before – verse 36. Then in verse 37 it says “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” [Emphasis mine]
I do not know about you, but I would rather do my very best to be humble in every way, about everything, so that my life can go well for me. Otherwise, there is the chance of becoming so proud of myself, my things, and my accomplishments that I could lose it all.
Are you one of those people that every time you pass a mirror you have to check yourself and maybe stop and primp? (And yes fellas, some of you are as guilty of this as women, I have witnessed it.)
Are you one of those people that delights in telling others of your successes and awards and recognition from work or socially?
Are you one of those people that get all puffed up and proud when people come to your home and fawn over it and your other possessions – fine furnishings, fancy cars?
Are you one of those people that love to drop names of people that you have met, or know, or maybe even socialize with?
Be careful – be VERY careful. If you fall too far into those traps of pride and desire to have the credit for all of it as your own, you could be flirting with trouble.
Personally, I think that the area of my life where I was most inclined to have had too much pride was with my job. That was an area of my life where I experienced enough success and recognition that I could claim it as my own – it did not have to be shared with a spouse, or children, or friends or even co-workers. It was my very own domain. I believed that I achieved success because I worked hard, did what was right and the results followed. It was easy to forget where the abilities to do a job well came from. But, fortunately, I guess I did not get so overly prideful that I ended up failing miserably.
These days, I have learned to thank the Lord for all He has done for me in my life. He gave me talents and abilities in order to have good and decent jobs in the past – jobs that rewarded me well enough that I can survive okay in my retirement. I thank Him that for my age, I am in relatively good health. I thank Him that I have my family and good friends that accept me for who I am and love me even with all my faults.
We all need to focus on being thankful and humble, not allowing things to become so important in our lives that we forget where all good things ultimately come from. Those earlier quoted verses from Proverbs give us a clear comparison of the results for pride vs. humility:
Proverbs 11:2 Disgrace vs. wisdom Proverbs 13:10 Quarrels vs. wisdom Proverbs 29:23 Brought low vs. honor
And, let us not forget Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Or, as The Message translation puts it: “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” Also in Proverbs from The Message is 16:15 “God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, He’ll put those upstarts in their place.”
Hopefully we can all learn that instead of saying in words or actions “Look At Me!” we will say “Look At What God Has Done!”
Written by Karran Martin – 2019