Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall.

This is a proverb that has proven itself time and time again, yet seems to be the hardest to learn. Its principle is behind most of the upsets in sports events, in which the clearly better team loses. One reason attributed to the “miracle” win of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team is that it was soundly trounced by the Russian team in a pre-Olympic game. The Russian coach said that he could not get his team afterwards to take the Americans seriously.

Pride affects more than sports. Its special strength is its subtle influence, for it infiltrates our lives at the holiest of times. It seeps into our worship, as we are caught up in the feelings that our music and architecture inspire in us, which subtly shifts our feelings to pride in what we have. It seeps into the sermon time as we listen intently and then with pride of how we have the best preaching.

And that is the curse of pride. We do not merely enjoy what we have, but enjoy that we have it better than others. We do not merely enjoy what we do but that we do it better than others. This insidious sin affects everything – our jobs, our education, our relationships in the home and in the community. We cannot simply enjoy, but we must do it in comparison with others. We then fall because we have taken our eyes off of what should have our attention and devotion, and shift them to others and ourselves. Pride thus robs us of pure joy which delights in something outside of us, and further leads us to fall in our joyful pursuit.

All the more then we must keep our eyes focused on the One who is exalted far above us and who modeled true humility so that he could save us who were poor and even rebellious. It is then we gain right perspective and the burden of pride lifted.

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