By BRUCE GREEN
You don’t have to read much of Proverbs before you understand the writer likes to use contrast to make his point. He tells us in 1:7 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” He does the same kind of thing in v. 32-33. Then there are sections (chapters 10-15), where this is the dominant form of expression. Some of the things contrasted in Proverbs are wisdom and folly, righteousness and wickedness and what we’re interested in: pride and humility.
Pride is a distorted sense of self. It’s when a person thinks too much of themselves. There is no one like them. They are the center of the universe, the star of the movie — everything revolves around them. God loves everyone, but they are His favorite.
There are two huge problems with prideful distortion.
One is that God is not treated as God. If He is on the prideful person’s radar at all, it is usually only as a genie who exists to grant their wishes. Their prayers aren’t about God’s kingdom coming as Jesus taught us to pray — they are about their kingdom coming. The prideful person does not allow themselves to be made over in God’s image; instead, they make God over into their image.
The second problem with prideful distortion has to do with how other people are viewed and treated. All people are not created equal. Some are more valuable than others (i.e., those who are pleasing and helpful to them). The prideful person not only uses God, they also use those who are made in God’s image.
The prideful person is ultimately not in touch with reality. To center things around yourself is the ultimate — not just in self-absorption, but in self-deception. It is Pharaoh asking, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). It is Nebuchadnezzar strutting around on the roof of his palace boasting about his power and the glory of his kingdom (Daniel 4). It is Herod basking in the people’s acclaim that his was the voice of a god and not a man (Acts 12).
Things never end well for the person of pride. God gave Pharaoh a 10-lesson correspondence course on who He was. Nebuchadnezzar ended up munching grass on the back forty. Herod was eaten by worms. When the writer of Proverbs tells us “Pride goes before destruction” — he knows what he is talking about!
Next week we’ll look at the problem most disciples have in regard to pride.
You can find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.