Pride, Humility, and the Road to the Good Life
Sunday, April 8, 2007 -
Almost nothing requires more faith (except, perhaps, not retaliating to personal mistreatment, leaving vengeance to the Lord while praying for our enemies) than living all of life as though the meek really will inherit the earth. It takes great faith in God’s promises to leash our own natural pride. You really have to trust in another kingdom altogether to walk in humility before God. But this is the only way to find the good life on God’s terms.
1) IN THE LONG RUN A PROUD HEART WILL LEAD THE LIFE INTO SELF-DESTRUCTION AND A FALL
Proverbs 25:6-7 - “Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great,  for it is better to be told, "Come up here," than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” Apparently, Jesus saw great teaching power in this account from Proverbs. Notice the similarity between this passage and a parable He told:
Luke 14:7-11 - “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,  "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,  and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this person,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
a) There is obvious disaster that comes from not knowing our proper place. We are meant to see ourselves here. None of us would admit having such a distorted self-image, and many times, mere politeness may keep us from acting this way in public settings (we may have more social discreetness than this). But there are times when, at least before God, we all know by experience the dominating power of our own pride. Every time I refuse instant obedience to the known will of God in my life it is because my own pride has arrogantly taken a place not its own. In other words, we never just refuse God’s will. We exalt our own. And that’s pride.
b) There is another kingdom coming where the proud will be abased. Jesus saw how things were happening in this world and used it to show that it will be the exact opposite in another. He was using this embarrassing incident to contrast how things work in two very different kingdoms. This is put in very stark terms in Proverbs - “Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” - Proverbs 18:12 - “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor.” See also
Proverbs 29:23 - “One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
2) THE REASON PRIDE ALWAYS BRINGS ULTIMATE FAILURE IS THE PROUD PERSON SETS HIMSELF AGAINST GOD, AND GOD SETS HIMSELF AGAINST THE PROUD
Pride heads the list of the things God hates - Proverbs 6:16-19 - “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,  a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
See also Proverbs 16:5 - “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” That word “abomination” is the same word used to describe homosexual acts, or acts of idolatry. The point here is God is not neutral about pride. This is what makes the downfall of the proud certain.
3) HOW CAN I KNOW IF I HAVE A PROUD HEART?
a) A proud person mocks truth - Proverbs 21:24 - “‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” This kind of heart is so infecting God pronounces a special blessing just for not associating with it - Psalm 1:1 - “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers....”
b) A proud person is a contentious person - Proverbs 13:10 - “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”
c) A proud person’s words are bigger than his actions - Proverbs 25:14 - “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” See also James 4:13-16 - “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
d) The proud are marked by greed and refuse to make room for God in their thoughts and affections - Psalm10:3-4 - “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.  In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’”
4) THE CREATION OF A HUMBLE HEART
a) Humility grows as we live life in the fear of the Lord - Proverbs 22:4 - “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” Notice how humility and the fear of the Lord are linked together. You can’t just manufacture humility. Humility comes from God-consciousness. It comes from the daily maintenance of the creature/Creator relationship. It comes from a life of dedicated service to God’s agenda for our lives.
b) Humility comes from devoting your energies to the greater glory of God - Proverbs 25:27 - “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.” See also 1 Peter 3:14-15 for a specific example of the practical meaning of living for the greater glory of God - “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,  but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you....”
c) True humility comes to those who learn to patiently listen to God and others - Proverbs 11:2 - “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” See also Proverbs 12:15 - “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
5) THE PATTERN OF HUMILITY - see Philippians 2:5-11 What wonderful words! It makes you wonder if Jesus might have had Himself in mind as well when He told His parable in Luke 14.