Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
People who achieve an extraordinary level of fame or reputation while they are still alive are often called “a legend in their own time.” A friend who played professional baseball says he met many people in the world of sports who were only “a legend in their own mind.” Pride has a way of distorting how we see ourselves while humility offers a realistic perspective.
The writer of Proverbs said, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). Viewing ourselves in the mirror of self-importance reflects a distorted image. Self-elevation positions us for a fall.
The antidote to the poison of arrogance is true humility that comes from God. “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (v. 19).
Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28).
There is nothing wrong with receiving accolades for achievement and success. The challenge is to stay focused on the One who calls us to follow Him saying, “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (11:29).
Lord Jesus, give us Your humility as we interact with others today. May we honor You in all we do and say.
True humility comes from God.
The account of King Nebuchadnezzar is an example of how pride can lead to a fall. The prophet Daniel reminded him that God had given him “dominion and power and might and glory” (Daniel 2:37). Nebuchadnezzar initially acknowledged Yahweh was “the God of gods and Lord of kings” (v. 47), but pride got the better of him when he ordered everyone to worship a ninety-foot-tall gold statue of himself (3:1–6). Ignoring God’s warning, he persisted in his pride and said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built . . . by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (4:30). Just as he was boasting about this, he was suddenly struck down by an illness, believed to be boanthropy, a rare mental disorder where a person believes he is a cow or ox (vv. 31–33). After seven years, God restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. Then he humbly confessed, “Now I . . . praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven. . . . Those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (v. 37). The arrogant king learned that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Proverbs 11:2) and “pride brings a person low” (29:23).
When have you seen pride lead to disgrace?
Signs on the highway show us many different sorts of things. Speed limits. Animal crossings. How to find a rest stop or avoid a construction site. Similarly, all of creation is a sign communicating God’s message to us. He speaks to us through a full moon, waves crashing against rocks, or a vividly colored aspen tree. As we look upon the wonders of nature, something inside us resonates with the glory, power, love, and beauty of the Creator.
The Lord expresses His message in still another way that may initially be hard for us to comprehend as love: through the fall of man. You might wonder, If God loves us, then why would He let the first couple sin, spoiling the perfection they enjoyed in the garden and breaking the fellowship they had with Him?
The connection between God’s love and man’s sin is freedom. In giving Adam and Eve the option to obey or disobey, God demonstrated that He has not created us as robots, incapable of making choices. His love does not restrict our freedom to do right or wrong—even if that involves our saying “no” to the God who created us. However, having the freedom to choose means we will make mistakes and disobey the God who loves us.
But the wonderful news is that God expresses His love toward those who have rebelled against Him, through His gracious offer of salvation and forgiveness. Jesus Christ, who paid our sin debt on the cross, is the ultimate expression of divine love. Have you responded to His love by believing in Christ and receiving Him as your personal Savior?
“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” (Mark 1:41)
When the Lord Jesus makes a promise, that promise is sure to be fulfilled. When He made the above promise to the leper, “immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Mark 1:42). The promise may not always be carried out as rapidly as this, but it will come.
Look at some of the wonderful “I wills” of Christ. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) is His promise to all His true disciples (that is, those who follow Him). But first they must come to Him, and to those who come He promises, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
Another gracious promise to all who come: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He also promises special love to those who obey Him. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, . . . shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
There is a tremendous promise in John 14:13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” He even emphasized it in the next verse: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
He has also promised to come back again, and we can be certain He will do as He said: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). But probably the greatest of all His promises was given in His intercessory prayer. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). HMM
Daniel 2:8, 9
or get a respite during which the king might calm down,
Daniel 2:8, 9
He argued rightly, that persons who could really foretell things to come by interpreting a dream could also tell the dream itself; and if they failed to do so, they were self condemned as base impostors, for whom no sentence could be too severe. The Chaldeans pleaded their inability and the unreasonableness of the kings request, but all in vain.
Daniel 2:17, 18
Prayer appealed to the omniscient One, and discovered the key of the mystery. In our worst plights let us pray.
Prayer went before, and praise follows after. Prayer obtains the blessing, and praise acknowledges it; never let us fail to praise the Lord for mercies received.
Faith, assured that her prayer was heard, acted with courage. Daniel did not fear a failure, he knew in whom his faith reposed. May the like faith be in us.
Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
Who can deny that there are certain persons who, though still unconverted, nevertheless differ from the crowd, marked out of God, stricken with an interior wound and susceptible to the call of God?
In the prayer of Jesus in John 17:11b, He said: “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Surely no man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. He will have certain marks, perhaps some not easy to detect.
First might be a deep reverence for divine things. A sense of the sacred must be present or there can be no receptivity to God and truth.
Another mark is great moral sensitivity. When God begins to work in a man to bring him to salvation He makes him acutely sensitive to evil.
Another mark of the Spirit’s working is a mighty moral discontent. It does take a work of God in a man to sour him on the world and to turn him against himself; yet until this has happened he is psychologically unable to repent and believe!
“I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isa. 41:10
Fear of falling is wholesome. To be venturesome is no sign of wisdom. Times come to us when we feel that we must go down unless we have a very special support. Here we have it. God’s right hand is a grand thing to lean upon. Mind, it is not only His hand, though it keepeth Heaven and earth in their places, but His right hand: His power united with skill, His power where it is most dexterous. Nay, this is not all, it is written, “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” That hand which He uses to maintain His holiness, and to execute His royal sentences — this shall be stretched out to hold up His trusting ones. Fearful is our danger, but joyful is our security. The man whom God upholds, devils cannot throw down.
Weak may be our feet, but almighty is God’s right hand. Rough may be the road, but Omnipotence is our upholding. We may boldly go forward. We shall not fall. Let us lean continually where all things lean. God will not withdraw His strength, for His righteousness is there as well: He will be faithful to His promise, and faithful to His Son, and therefore faithful to us. How happy we ought to be! Are we not so?