A Brief Meditation for the Month

March 2024

One of the Puritans, John Flavel, warned against the sin of pride: “They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud.” C. H. Spurgeon said: “Pride may be set down as ‘the sin’ of human nature.” History testifies to the devastating effect of human pride manifesting itself in arrogance and boasting; self-promotion; ridiculing others; usurping place, position, and power; trampling on the rights of others; and oppressing and exploiting the weak and vulnerable for selfish personal gain. The list goes on. Pride disturbs peace: it demonstrates insensitivity to the feelings of others. Yet, though pride is responsible for so much pain and suffering, often those who appear to exhibit it so flagrantly are blind to its existence in themselves. Even when they find it so offensive when seen in others, they treat it as something relatively benign and harmless in themselves. If they claim to be Christians, they may imagine they belong to the humblest company and, thus, are beyond being proud.

Among the many things God hates, seven are singled out for special attention in the Book of Proverbs, one of which is “a proud look.” Proverbs 6:16–17. A visible haughty look is hateful to God, but secret internal pride is likewise disgusting to God. The same Book of Proverbs states: “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord,” Proverbs 16:5. No true believer can read these words unmoved or without a degree of conviction. While they desire to walk humbly with God, their consciences often smite them with conviction when they feel pride raising its ugly head on occasions in their experience. When they resist some temptation and overcome it, or feel more spiritually minded, or their faith in God and his word seems stronger; when a degree of liberty in prayer is experienced, or useful service in the cause of Christ and the gospel; it is often then that secret self-satisfaction or self-congratulation is the precursor of sinful pride, for which we all need to repent. However, while the genuine believer hates any semblance of pride in themselves or others, they need not be entangled in the bondage with which the devil tries to fetter even the best of God’s children. Richard Baxter, another of the Puritans, expressed an important truth: “Humility doth no more require that a wise man think his knowledge equal with a fool’s or ignorant man’s than that a sound man take himself to be sick.” Any personal gifts or graces we possess to make even the smallest contribution to the furtherance of Christ’s cause and kingdom, rather than puffing us with pride, ought to fill us with humble gratitude to be granted such a privilege despite our utter unworthiness. If, as Flavel stated, we know ourselves, we “cannot be proud;” it is because of the simple fact we have nothing to be proud of, not even when we are useful. When King Nebuchadnezzar boasted in pride of his outstanding achievements, God was displeased; and we learn from Daniel: “But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” Daniel 5:20. Nebuchadnezzar did come to a better understanding of reality and, when he did, he gave praise and honour to God, Daniel 4:37. His successor, Belshazzar, who was aware of Nebuchadnezzar’s experiences, brought divine judgment upon himself through his pride. Daniel told him, “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this, but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven.” Daniel 5:22. Because of Belshazzar’s inexcusable pride and arrogance, he was slain by the Medes, reminding us of how much pride in any form is detested by God. Daniel 5:31.

G. G. Hutton.