Watch Yourself!

If there is one thing in the world that might destroy you, it is the pandemic germ common to mankind that took Adam and Eve out of the garden after it had forfeited Lucifer from his exalted angelic position over angels.  It is the sin of pride and it got Haman hanged and Pharaoh drowned, and Saul slain, and it will take you down too if you do not guard diligently against it.

The history of humanity has attested well to Solomon’s proverb: “A man’s pride shall bring him low….” (Prov. 29:23) He was the wise man who also said that “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty….” (Prov. 18:12), and “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18) C.S. Lewis said that it is the sin that we all loathe when observed in others but that we seldom imagine we are guilty of ourselves.  He called it the essential vice and posited that unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness and all are mere “fleabites” in comparison.  The Devil became the devil through pride, and it is “the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Chesterton said, “If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be a sermon against pride.”  A teacher of preachers said to his class: “I can think of no more deadly foe than self-esteem; I would hazard the guess that professional pride is the sin par excellence of the clergy.”

Napoleon could have boasted in his military prowess, but he knew the folly of such a thing.  He said of his own accomplishments: “I am doing now what will fill thousands of volumes in this generation; in the next, one volume will contain it all; in the third, a paragraph; in the fourth, a single line.”

J.P. Struthers spent his life ministering to a small Presbyterian church when, it was said, he could have occupied any pulpit in the Britain of his day for he was dearly loved by all who knew him and the more they knew him the more they loved him.   A friend said that because of all that Struthers had done he would surely have a front seat in heaven.  But another close friend of the great pastor offered the following: “Struthers would be miserable in a front seat anywhere.” 

We’re living in an age that promotes self-esteem.  Talk shows and books have been promoting self for decades.  It is easy to get caught up in this psychology that makes one feel good about one’s self.  Certainly, the redeemed child of God, heir of God and joint heir with His Son, can rejoice in his standing in Christ.  But let us never forget that the old man, with us to the end of our earthly journey, is just as corrupt as ever and in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. (Romans 7:18) Next time the flesh begs to be stroked and puffed, watch out!  It’s that which more than anything else in the world will more likely bring to you personal, spiritual ruin.

“A rabbi, a cantor and a humble synagogue cleaner were preparing for the day of atonement,” shared Alan Paton in Instrument of Thy Peace, “when, beating his breast the rabbi said: ‘I am nothing; I am nothing.’  The cantor did likewise.  However, when the cleaner beat his breast and said, ‘I am nothing,’ the rabbi was overheard to say to the cantor: ‘Look who thinks he’s nothing.’”

During Sunday school a teacher taught the lesson from Luke 18 about the Pharisee who, praying to God, gave thanks that he was not like other people, while a tax collector said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”  The teacher explained that the self-righteous Pharisee looked down, because of pride, on the tax collector.  At the end of the class, the teacher asked one of the students to close the class in prayer who, when he prayed, said “God, I thank you that I am not like that Pharisee.”

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly….” (Romans 12:3)

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