Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pride goeth before a fall...

A lot of people today are surprised when I tell them that, in the preaching I grew up with, the worst sin of all was pride. "Pride goeth before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction" (Prov. 16:18ish). Pride was thought to be the sin of Satan (cf. Isaiah 14, which was actually about the King of Babylon originally).

This is genuinely surprising to many Christians today, who were raised to think of "taking pride in your work" and having good self-esteem.

There is culture at work here on all sides (as there always is). In ancient culture especially, boasting was just begging the gods to put you in your place. The story of Herod Antipas in Acts 12 is a case in point.

The old Japanese proverb captures the dynamic well--"The nail that sticks out gets hammered first." This is why we knock on wood and don't test fate.

At the same time (as usual), there is a twin problem. "God don't make trash." If we are created in the image of God, then we shouldn't treat ourselves, let alone others, as dirt.

So here are my thoughts:
  • If we weren't created in the image of God, we would pretty much just be dirt. If God and others love me, my death is significant. If there is no God, I'm road kill. Thankfully, God does exist and loves even the most despicable, let alone those the world considers insignificant. That makes all of us priceless.
  • None of us are as smart or as capable as we think. If androids take over the world, "human spirit" won't count for squat. The movies are wrong. We lose, big time. Again, if we didn't believe in God, we should be afraid of the next step in the evolutionary chain (namely, the X-Men).
  • The old proverbs still ring true. "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched." "Call no one happy until they're dead." "Don't say, 'I'm going to do this or that.' Say, 'If the Lord wills...'"
  • So be "proud" of the paltry talents you have and your feeble accomplishments. Be proud in perspective, knowing that in yourself you're dirt. Your value is derivative. 
  • But remember, if you're good, others will tell you. You won't need to tell them. Most of those who brag are wannabies. And if you're really all that great, you won't have to tell others to convince yourself.


Pastor Bob said...

I liked this, I struggled with the self esteem issue in college, Psychology class, then the next period the Study of Book of Romans and the doctrine of death to self. Glad and thankful for common sense and the Holy Spirit to help in life's transitions.

Susan Moore said...

Yea, that’s it.
And I laughed as hard as I cringed at, “evolutionary chain.”
Perhaps there are two ‘evolutionary’ processes occurring simultaneously; processes that parallel each other but move in opposing directions.
There is the ‘spiritual evolution’ of God's work in creation; as He works through the processes of direct intervention, and through the words and works of those who act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with Him, and in all things as He works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. This is His work of making all things new in Him.
Then there is the physical evolution of the fallen world that has been ascribed to Satan. This is the evolution of random mutations and survival of the fittest competitions, and is the residual vapor trail of Satan’s desire to sling mud at God’s good work.

Robert Brenchley said...

That's Herod Agrippa I, but never mind. We all confuse our Herods!