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TEXT: Proverbs 16:18-19
SUBJECT: Proverbs #15: Pride
Our English Bibles use great variety in describing this condition, such as: pride, conceit, arrogance, haughtiness, and loftiness. But interestingly enough, all these variations come from but one Hebrew word group, GE, which simply means, "To lift up or to be high".
It is sometimes employed in a purely physical sense. Hence it describes the rising of smoke, the swelling of waves, the height of King Saul, the flight of an eagle, the elevation of mountains, or even the altitude of the stars. It means, therefore, "To be lifted up high".
When brought into a moral context, its definition remains the same. An arrogant man simply exalts himself. And so pride is everywhere portrayed, as for example:
In Obadiah. You recall, I trust, that this little book is an Oracle against Edom, the descendants of Esau. Observe carefully how their conceit is drawn, "The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, `Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars...(vv.4-5).
In the writings of Paul. He described the arrogant Corinthians as being "puffed up". He feared for novices to be in the ministry "Lest they be "lifted up with pride". He all but defined the word when he forbade the Romans to "Think more highly of themselves than they ought".
Pride, therefore, can be defined in two words, "self-exaltation". This can be done, of course, in a thousand ways, only a few of which I can mention. Conceit may be expressed in:
Your general appearance.
Under this heading, I include three things: the way you look, the way you gesture, and the way you dress.
The way you look. "These six things the LORD hates, yea, seven are an abomination to Him, a proud look..." (6:16ff). This haughty appearance is obvious, not only to God, but man. Hence, Agur could describe his contemporaries, "There is a generation, Oh how lofty their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up" (30:13). Unaided human intuitiuon can even find it. Hence, we describe a proud man as having "a turned-up nose".
and (3) The way you dress and gesture. Isaiah 3:16-23.
What the Supreme Court Justice said about pornography, we can say about this proud appearance. "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."
Although this "look" is subjective, it may be tested very objectively. And here is how: "Do you repulse people without speaking a word? " or to put it another way, "Are people afraid to talk to you?" If so, then one of two alternatives is obvious: either everyone in the world is mistaken or you are proud.
Thus, one of the chief marks of spiritual wisdom is revealed in James 5:17, "Easy to be intreated", or to put it another way, "Approachable".
Remember please: this general appearance is unrelated to your natural beauty, refined manners, or expensive wardrobe. For remember, our Lord was neither handsome, nor sophisticated, nor rich--and yet the Pharisee Nicodemus and the "Woman who was a sinner" would feel comfortable in His presence.
Pride is also revealed in your conversation.
If, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks", then a proud man cannot avoid two sins:
Boasting. "Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?" (20:6). But all boasting is not the same.
Some is very obvious. You remember Muhammad Ali's famous self-portrait? "I am the greatest!"
But most bragging is a little more subtle, as for example:
You can boast by constantly talking about yourself. Boasting is nothing more than making yourself the center of attention. But what may surprise you is this: Bragging need not be positive! The man who complains 50 times a day "I make minimum wage" is the twin of him who just as often tells me of his vast income. For although the details differ greatly, the core remains the same: "My financial standing is of astonishing interest!!!"
You can boast in your humility. Let me illustrate: Fasting and the wearing of sackcloth and ashes was a profession of sin and a sign of humility. But the Pharisee did this publicly, for everyone to see, so that all men would confess him to be "immensely humble". Thus, the man who is constantly telling me about his sin, his unwoprthiness, and the like, is prompted by one of two proud motives: He either wants me to esteem his humility...or to disagree with him.
You can boast with the pretense of giving God the glory. Luke 18:9-11. Always glory in the LORD. But be sure that it is not for self-promotion.
When you gossip, you retail the fault of others. But why? Is it because you are deeply concerned for their welfare? No. For if you were, you take up the matter with them personally.
Obviously, you abase others in order to exalt yourself. "He is stupid MEANS I am smart". "He is proud MEANS I am humble". "They don't discipline their children MEANS We do".
Pride is exhibited in your behavior in the church. A proud man seeks only one thing: personal promotion. His behavior, therefore, will necessarily be marked by the following:
He despises "small people"
NOTE: We all have some friends who are closer than others. This is not a sign of pride, for even our Lord had "One disciple whom He loved" is a special way. Rather, pride is exhibited in despising or avoiding others.
14:21 can be applied at this point. Cf. James 2:3, Romans 12:16.
The reason is obvious. If you only associate with them who can be promote you, then you will necessarily despise the lesser brethren.
He despises "small things".
This is well illustrated from Psalm 84:10b. Cf. with others.
The reason for this too is evident. Personal glory is not found in the small or private works, but in the big and public ones.
He despises correction.
So confident is this man in all of his ways, that no correction, from any source, will be received. He will either argue against it (26:16), withdraw from it (18:1), or--if need be--"grit his teeth against it (3:11-12).
He stirs up contention.
He will not rest until everyone agrees with his own personal assessment.
20:6, 25:14, 30:12.
He is like Diotrophes of old.
In short, he will only be satisfied when men are singing, "Worthy is this man to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing".
Pride, therefore may be expressed in various ways and in sundry degrees. But in the end, pride is pride. It is the desire to exalt yourself at the expense of others--even God!
Pride will necessarily lead to personal dissatisfaction.
Pride will necessarily lead to social turmoil.
Pride will necessarily lead to destruction.
This would probably be true if there were no God. For if your eyes are exalted, you are not watching where you are going. It is illustrated all too often in everyday life, e.g.,
In baseball there is a "Sophomore Jinx".
Parents understand the danger of teenaged drivers.
Harold Chadwick/Michelle's tragedy.
But because there is a God, then pride must and without exception lead to doom.
God Scorns the Scornful.
He resists the Proud.
And He normally does so with exquisite irony. "He catches the crafty in their craftiness, as e.g.,
Consider that pride is counterproductive. 25:27,27:2.
Consider how little you are,have, and know. (Psalm 49:6-7)
Consider why you are, have, or know anything. (I Corinthians 4:7).
Consider the standards of God's Law. (Luke 17:10).
His knowledge, His power, His holiness, etc.
Which will lead you to the place of humilty, "Behold, I am a worm and no man".
And dignity, for "Whoever exalts himself will be abased, but whoever abases himself will be exalted."
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