Posted by: everynation | April 11, 2011

Humility (Last of the series)

By Paul Barker

(Note: We are featuring a four-part series on the subject of Humility from Paul Barker’s blog in 2009. We hope you will find this meaningful and encouraging as you live to please and honor God.)

What is pride?

Many profound thinkers in the history of the Church have attempted to define pride.

“Pride is the commencement of all sin because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness; it subverted him in the same way in which the devil fell. For the serpent, in fact, only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, ‘Ye shall be as gods.’” (Augustine, Quoted in Philip Schaff, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5 St. Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, chapter 33)

“Pride is inordinate self-love, and it is the cause of every sin. The root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule.” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1, 77)

“There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. As long as you are proud you cannot know God.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

  • Pride is the motivation for all sinful behavior.

It was the motivation behind Lucifer’s initial rebellion.

“You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:13, 14)

  • Pride is trusting in our own will and ability over God’s.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 17:5)

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)

Saul did not wait for the prophet Samuel to offer the sacrifice because his men were scattering. He took it upon himself to take the office the Lord had not called him to, and he offered the sacrifice himself. Samuel said to Saul when he arrived, “You have not kept the command the Lord gave you; but now the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.” (I Samuel 13:8-14)

David had the opportunity to pass this same test when his men urged him to take the life of Saul when they found him asleep and unguarded in the cave. They said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when He said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” But David responded, “May the Lord judge between you and me, but my hand will not touch you.” (I Samuel 24:1-22) David refused to trust in his own ability and chose instead to trust God’s.

  • Pride always precedes calamity.

Benjamin Franklin once visited the renowned Puritan divine Cotton Mather. As Franklin was leaving, Mather shouted at him, “Stoop, stoop!” But unfortunately, it was too late. As Franklin banged his head on the low doorjamb, Mather said, “You are young and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it and you will miss many hard thumps.” Later Franklin said, “I often think of his words when I see the misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.” (Quoted in, John Lienhard, Benjamin Franklin & Cotton Mather, http://www.uh.edu/engines)

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)


Paul Barker is currently the Director of Leadership Development for Every Nation Ministries. He leads the team that produces the ENLI curriculum for North America and that trains vocational ministers to do university and high school ministry.

 

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