“For pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment, or even common sense.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Benjamin Franklin was a guest for dinner at the home of a friend one evening when his host offered to show him his library. Passing through a very narrow hallway, he yelled back at Franklin, “Stoop! Stoop!” Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin didn’t understand what he meant and hit his head on a low beam.
His gracious host didn’t let the opportunity go to waste and said, “Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high. Stoop, young man, stoop – as you go through this world – and you’ll miss many hard thumps.”
Years later, Franklin recounted that he never had forgotten that night, the bump on the head or the good counsel that went along with it. “This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me, and I often think of it when I see pride mortified and misfortunes brought upon people by carrying their heads too high.”
One of our most famous forefathers learned a valuable lesson, from a very real and painful experience, about a pitfall that all of us come up against at some time or another in our life: Pride.
There are all kinds of pride: we take pride in our appearance, we are proud to be citizens of our great country, our hearts swell with pride when our children excel — and those are just a few examples of “good pride.”
Our official dictionary definition (can you have a blog post without one?) says this, “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.” It’s the first part of the definition that can get us into trouble…derived from one’s own achievements. When we begin to think too highly of ourselves, think we don’t need the help or input of another, that we have arrived where we are because of our own talents and abilities, then we are opening ourselves up to sinful pride.
The Message interprets Proverbs 16:18 in this fashion: “First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”
Are you familiar with the story of Haman in the Book of Esther?
“After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.”
Haman was quite the character. He had contempt for Mordecai, a servant of the king, who had raised Esther as his own and he also hated, absolutely loathed, the Jewish people and spent his days concocting a plan to have them annihilated. When Haman heard that Mordecai was a Jew, he immediately put his plot into action.
He tricked the king into signing a decree that would do away with every one of the Jewish people. When Mordecai found out, he sent word to Esther that she alone could save their people.
You can read the story here of how Esther tricked Haman into confessing to the king that he was not only doing away with the Jewish people, but that it would also mean Esther would die as well.
When the king heard this, he had Haman hung on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai!
Haman’s pride cost him his life. He loved his position, his fame and the accolades that he received every single day. He expected people to bow to him, to cater to him and to worship him. But it cost him everything.
The pride that Haman possessed, or the pride that possessed him, is something we need to run from. When we feel that superior attitude or we begin to think we are really something and nothing could be done right without us, that is the time to hit our knees in repentance and ask God to remove those sinful thoughts from our minds!
If we allow them to take root — if we listen to the enemy — he will magnify these things to us until we actually believe them. When that happens, no one can reach us, reason with us or convince us that we are wrong. That is a scary place to be.
In this world of selfies and social media overload, it is easy to become self-seeking, self-centered, self-focused, self-absorbed, and God-forbid, narcissistic. But if our focus is on Jesus, on the fact that without Him we are nothing, then we can be used of God. We can be humble and then we won’t stumble!
Timothy Keller said, “The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself; it is thinking of myself less.”
Remember to stoop as you go through this life, pointing others to Jesus instead of yourself and you will miss many hard thumps.
What would you consider one of the biggest stumbling blocks in a Christian’s life today? What do you possibly struggle with the most in this world of all-about-me? How can we pray with you today?