Thursday, July 12

Toxic pride

Scripture: Isaiah 11-14, Hebrews 9

Isaiah 14:13–15 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.

Observation

Isaiah 14 is a funeral lament for the King of Babylon, but it was never sung at his funeral for he didn’t have one—he died in ignominy.  The outstanding characteristic of the king was his pride.  All his other sins—and there were many—sprang from this single source.  The words “I will” are repeated five times, culminating in “I will make myself like the Most High.”  The king talks like he is God, in charge of everything—he is not.  

In response, the true God sets Himself against the proud king and promises to bring him down.  Isaiah 14:11 “All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.”

The story illustrates this verse: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  James 4:6

Some have seen these verses as a prophetic reference to Satan.  Certainly there is no more devilish sin than pride, which C.S. Lewis called “the Great Sin.”  

Application

Success and power can easily go to one’s head.  People treat you with deference, sometimes with a sort of awe.  You become a celebrity.  You begin to believe your own press clippings.  And pride takes root and begins to poison you from the inside out.  

The king of Babylon was an extreme example of this.  He began to think of himself as a god.  While most of us won’t go that far (at least overtly), pride twists our self-perception and we think much more highly of ourselves than we ought.  

G.W. Grogan wrote, “It is a strange paradox that nothing makes a being less like God than the urge to be his equal, for he who was God stepped down from the throne of his glory to display to the wondering eyes of men the humility of God (Phil 2:5–8).”

Nothing makes you less like God than pride; nothing makes you more like Him than humility.  

Reject every suggestion of pride and self-promotion.  It’s toxic.  Embrace humility; it’s life-giving…and God-like.

Prayer: Lord, please help me be like Jesus: humble.  Put to death every scrap of pride and self-promotion and self-centeredness in me.