The Self-Destructive Nature of Self-Importance.
“You have indeed defeated Edom, and you are very proud of it. But be content with your victory and stay at home! Why stir up trouble that will only bring disaster on you and the people of Judah?” – 2 Kings 14:10 NLT
Pride goes before the fall. Or something like that. We all love paraphrasing this message from the book of Proverbs. It actually says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NLT). But regardless of exactly what it says, we enjoy sharing the basic gist of it – especially in retrospect – when someone we know, and usually don’t like, has experienced a failure of some kind. It’s a very biblical way of saying, “I told you so!” Whatever negative circumstances this person has experienced was well-deserved. They got what was coming to them. Now while we probably misapply this verse more than any other, there is some truth to the idea that pride is destructive. And behind all pride is a sense of self-importance that blinds us to the danger we face when we think too highly of ourselves. Paul provided this warning against being overly self-important. “I gave each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3 NLT).
Self-importance is a dangerous drug that is both addictive and destructive. Little victories and successes, even spiritual ones, can cause us to suffer from inflated self-worth and become overly self-confident. That’s what happened to Amaziah. As king of Judah, he experienced some early successes and seemed to have the hand of God on his life. At one point he experienced a decisive victory over Edom, defeating 10,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He also defeated the stronghold of Sela, located in the city of Petra. Fresh off these convincing victories, Amaziah decides to challenge the king of Israel to a battle. He is confident and tad bit cocky. King Jehoash of Israel warns him to think about what he is doing. He compares Judah to a thistle going up against a mighty cedar tree. Not only that, but the thistle ends up getting stepped on and crushed. before it can even attack the cedar tree! But self-importance can make us self-delusional. We can begin to believe our own press clippings and think we are something really special. Which is exactly what happened to Amaziah. He refused to listen to Jehoash and went ahead with his battle plans. Rather than be content with his victory over Edom, he had to have more. He had to prove himself to himself. His self-confidence would end up being self-destructive. “King Jehoash of Israel captured Judah’s king, Amaziah son of Joash and grandson of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh. Then he marched to Jerusalem, where he demolished 600 feet of Jerusalem’s wall, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. He carried off all the gold and silver and all the articles from the Temple of the Lord. He also seized the treasures from the royal palace, along with hostages, and then returned to Samaria” (2 Kings 14:13-14 NLT).
Amaziah’s pride led to his fall and the defeat of Judah. His own self-importance became self-destructive, but also spread to those around him. The effects of self-importance and pride are rarely relegated to self alone. Others are always impacted by our own self-obsession and over-confidence. Nowhere do we read that Amaziah was instructed by God to wage war with Israel. This was his own plan, driven by his own need for self-importance. And the results were disastrous. Jerusalem was left defenseless with broken-down walls. The Temple of God was ransacked and left desecrated. Citizens were turned into slaves. The wealth of Judah became the booty of Israel. All because of one man’s self-importance and pride. If Amaziah had only listened to the wisdom of Solomon. “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be happy” (Proverbs 16:20 NLT). The antidote to self-importance is humility and submission to the will of God. When we begin to think we are something special, we need to remind ourselves of the reality of our own self-worth. Paul gives us sobering words to consider any time we begin to think too highly of ourselves. “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and use them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT).
Father, protect me from self-importance and it’s offspring – pride. Help me remember that I am nothing without You. My value is found in Christ alone. Self-importance is self-delusional and self-destructive. But learning to find my value and worth in Your Son reminds me that I bring nothing to the table. All my worth comes from Him and what He has done for me. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men