Bible Reading: Proverbs 16.18-25
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. 21 The wise in heart will be called understanding, And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. 25 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
I love the Word of God and I am always in awe of how God has articulated something in such a way that it applies exactly to me. Hebrews 4:12 tells us “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” I am reminded of this truth when I look at the words today from Proverbs 16. There are multiple themes in this passage and yet two distinct messages ring living, active and more sharp to me today than they may have a few months ago. The living Word of God has been placed in front of me today and in God’s sovereignty it begins with pride and ends with the way of man leads to death.
Since October God has been convicting and reproofing the sin of pride in my life. This began to manifest itself in the satisfaction of my own achievements and intense focus on qualities that others admired. My pride was rooted in self-preservation of who I thought I needed to be in order to find success. This seeped its way into my life at home, at work and even in the Church. I was finding it was much easier for me to be the Pharisee in Luke 18 than the sinner.
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How many of us have fallen victim to this Pride? If I work hard I am better. If I serve more I must be more holy. If I love my wife and show up for my kids I am way better than the husbands and fathers who don’t. The root of pride for me is my satisfaction in the way others view me. The world we live in today tells us the same thing; i.e. the higher your salary, the more significant your job title, how many credentials you have, the number of Twitter followers or facebook friends. All these are worldly signs of success and rooted in pride. According to our verses today this leads to destruction (18) and death (25).
A quick Google search provides a definition of pride that highlights its roots. Pride is defined “ a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired” The antithesis of pride is humility and is defined as “a modest or low view of one's own importance.”
The actions of finding success are not wrong but the rooted desire in the heart is the differentiator. The shift is small but vitally important, it's not about my importance but God’s. A simple phrase to remind me of this has been, “worry about what Jesus thinks about me and not what everyone else thinks about me”. This allows my pride to shrink and my humility to rise. We must focus on what Christ thinks first.
Your challenge today, Who are you trying to impress? Your peers, wife, kids, boss or Jesus?
Memory Verse: Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16.3