The Peril of Pride.
“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because Egypt became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, with its top reaching to the clouds, I will hand it over to a mighty nation that will destroy it as its wickedness deserves. I have already discarded it.” – Ezekiel 31:10-11 NLT
God hates pride in all its forms. And His hatred of pride is expressed throughout the Scriptures.
“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18 NLT
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” – Proverbs 11: 2 NLT
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” – James 4:6 NIV
All throughout the Old Testament, God speaks of Israel’s arrogance and pride. He blasts them for their extreme self-importance and attitude of insufferable self-worth. God hates pride in His people, but He hates in the nations. Pride is what caused Satan’s fall. Just before God cast him out of heaven, Satan’s attitude reflected his unparalleled pride and arrogance. “For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:13-14 NLT). He wanted to be like God. It was the same thing he tempted Adam and Eve with in the garden. “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'” (Genesis 3:4-5 NASB).
At the root of pride is self-reliance and independence. We begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We begin to believe our own press and think that we are something special. Our seeming successes only act to feed our insatiable thirst for recognition, credit, and self-sufficiency. We even begin to take credit for what God has done or what He has made possible for us to do. You see this reflected in the words of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as he stood gazing over his royal capital from his palace balcony. “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor” (Daniel 4:30 NLT). That very moment, God took away not only Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, but also his sanity. And it wasn’t until he looked up and acknowledged the rule and reign of God, that his sanity returned.
In today’s reading, we see God’s anger expressed toward Egypt for her pride and arrogance. Even nations can be guilty of having an inflated self-worth and a bloated ego. In Egypt’s case, they really were great. God compares them to a majestic tree with beautiful, shade-giving branches that provided safety and shelter to others. It had deep roots, providing stability and sustenance in times of drought. It was just like Assyrian HAD been. Assyria had once been beautiful, strong, self-reliant and the envy of the nations. But Assyrian had fallen. And so would Egypt. Both failed to recognize that their beauty and greatness were God’s doing, not their own. God had given them their lofty position, and He could remove them from it. God would use another great nation, Babylon, to knock the props our from under Egypt – just like He did Assyria. Why? “Because Egypt became proud and arrogant” (Ezekiel 31:10b).
Humility is a rare commodity these days. Even among believers. We tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We tend to take credit for things that are the work of God, not us. We tend to compare and contrast ourselves with others, looking for those with whom we compare positively. We want to come out on the winning side, so we look for those with more flaws and weaknesses than we have. We celebrate their failures and revel in our own successes. But Paul warns us, “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give 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).
Egypt’s pride was going to be its downfall. Its arrogance would bring about its demise. Because God hates pride. But He loves to extend His grace to the humble. When we refuse to life ourselves up, and instead, give Him the credit, we receive His grace. He exalts us at the proper time and in the proper way. Peter put it this way: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV). It is far better to humble ourselves than to be humbled by God. It is far healthier to let God exalt us when He and how He sees fit, than to attempt to exalt ourselves. Because God hates pride.
Father, continue Your patient work of removing pride in me. It is an ongoing project that is at times painful, but always beneficial. I never want my pride to rob me of the benefit of Your amazing grace. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men