Summary: We are all proud of our achievements. Many times we could be proud of our spirituality itself. What causes that? What are the effects of that? Is there an antidote?
EGO_ Edging God Out through Pride
Last time I preached here, we started a study on what prevents us from fully enjoying the inheritance that Jesus left us, viz; the presence of God. What prevents us from enjoying God’s presence? We saw that it is our EGO. Not the Freudian stuff of ego, but really when we Edge God Out.
Today, we are going to continue to look at one of the key ways in which we Edge God Out of our lives. It is called Pride. Sounds familiar? Do we suffer from Pride?
All of us know what Pride is. It is basically an overly high opinion about oneself, an exaggerated esteem of self, which leads to haughtiness, arrogance etc. Romans 12:3 defines it well, “thinking of himself/herself more highly than he/she ought to think..” It happens when we give a lot more value to our own opinions than anyone else’s. When we do all the talking. When start taking too much credit. When we start showing off. Or worse still, when we start demanding service based on your position or title. It is very evident when we start looking into the mirror to find the source of all successes, and look out of the window when we look for the cause of failure. The signs of Pride are very discernable, and yet, many times we ignore it, or even worse, enjoy it a bit.
C S Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity says “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.” Sounds rather harsh isn’t it? Could this be the reality?
Even though this is a much understood problem, we need to be constantly reminded about this sin that we all fall prey to. So, as a reminder, let us look at a couple of Bible Stories to remind us about this and try to consciously avoid falling into this trap.
Let us turn to Daniel Chapter 4. An interesting story is told here. King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. In the dream he sees a magnificent tree, reaching up to the heavens. It is so high that it could be seen from all over the earth. It has huge branches and lovely leaves and provides shade to all the creatures of the earth. All creatures find shade under it and birds of the heaven find their nest in its branches. Its fruit is abundant, and is enough to feed all living creatures. (Daniel 4:10-12). Till now it is a beautiful dream. But this is followed by a jarring scene. Then he sees an angel coming down and ordering the tree to be cut down, its leaves to be stripped off, fruits to be scattered, and all those who fed from it and took shelter under it to be taken away from the tree. (Daniel 4:13-14). The King is understandably perturbed by the dream and asks the court magicians to interpret the dream. The magicians are unable to do so. Not surprisingly, because the dream has a strong linkage to the prophesy given in Ezekiel Ch 31, about Assyria. Daniel on the other hand knew Ezekiel’s prophesy and hence was able to easily interpret the dream, and he explains the dream to the king saying that the tree is the King himself, and the cutting down of the tree and the subsequent actions are actually about what is likely to happen to the King himself and no one else. Daniel also explains that as per the dream the King will be driven from his men, he will be like a beast in the field, he will eat grass like an ox, and he will be like this for seven years. (Daniel 4:20-25). However, Daniel also explains the silver lining in the dream and gives the King some sage advice. Daniel 4:26-27 (NKJV) 26 And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."
However, it does not appear as though the King took Daniel’s advice seriously. About a year later, he surveyed his kingdom from his balcony and his heart grew proud. Daniel 4:30 (NKJV) 30 The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" . Note the self-praise in the text, note the attribution of all successes to himself. Note the number of times the words “I” and “my” appear here. This is what pride does. It attributes all success to ourselves. Nebuchadnezzar Edged God Out completely because of his pride on his achievements. And we see the result of such a prideful attitude immediately too. The next verse (Daniel 4:31) says, that while the word was still in in the kings mouth, God responded to him and then all that he dreamt came true. He loses his sanity, eats grass like oxen, he is wet with the dew, his hair grows like eagle’s feathers and his nails like bird’s claws.