The Danger of Believing I’m Good
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall.
19 Better to live humbly with the poor
than to share plunder with the proud.
Pride says that I am in the center. Humility puts God at the Center.
Pride is the most seductive of sins. It’s camouflaged so well and seems so right. At the exact center of my sinful heart is a longing to be seen as good, to prove myself worthy, and to accomplish much. How could this be wrong? How could being good and worthy and accomplished be wrong? Here’s the painful answer: I want to worship myself. I want you to worship me, too. But Proverbs (and the whole of Scripture) tells me the truth: I’m not good. On my own, I’m worthless. Apart from God, I can’t accomplish anything. Hell is filled, and will be further filled, with those who believe anything else
Here are 3 of the many costumes that pride wears in my own life:
My pride loves the short-lived joy found in being recognized for “doing good”. I’m all about recognition, but not much on submission. In contrast, Jesus finds eternal joy in submitting to the will of the Father. (Hebrews 12:2)
I have hawk-like spiritual eyesight to identify your sins and more than enough self-righteousness to be irritated by them, all-the-while imagining that I’m worth more than you because I couldn’t possibly sin like that. Jesus tells my pharisaical heart to beware. (Matthew 23:25-28)
I try so hard to have the appearance of being accomplished. I want you to see what I’m capable of and what I’ve done. But Jesus couldn’t have been clearer when he tells me that I can do nothing apart from Him. (John 15:5)
Proverbs 16:18 describes my spirit perfectly when I think the ways I’ve just admitted… “haughty”. The original readers of Proverbs would have read/heard this Hebrew word and understood it to mean something like “pretending to be taller than you really are”. The modern equivalent would be “I think I’m a bigshot”. God, in his mercy and loving-kindness, has done something startling for my own good. He has told me the truth about myself. God reveals to me that I’m way, way, WAY shorter than I pretend to be. In fact, I’m a nobody. I’ve got nothing. I’m broke. And right up next to this painful truth about myself, he puts on display the only cure for this disease of pride that has infected every human: God displays the unimaginable goodness, worth, and accomplishment of Jesus.
Should it be any surprise that the first words that Jesus speaks to us in The Sermon on the Mount strike at the heart of human pride? Jesus says in Matthew 6:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Do you see it? Do you see that it is a great blessing to us when we live knowing that we are spiritually bankrupt? A miracle happens when I think the right way about this. I find that when I submit my mind and heart to bringing attention to the great worth of Jesus that He does good, that He gives me worth, and that He accomplishes much. But there’s more. When I’m finding worth in Jesus, the attention is off of me… and my wife and daughters, my friends and neighbors… they won’t be focusing on me… they’ll be seeing Jesus. And maybe the greater miracle still is that I won’t be focusing on “me” either. And what a blessing that is!
Questions To Ponder
What comes before destruction?
What comes before a fall?
In what areas of your life will you move toward a humble spirit?
Scripture Memory | February | Proverbs 18:2
“Fools have no interest in understanding;
they only want to air their own opinions.”