Summary: Part one of a two part series.
Pride & Destruction
This is the first sermon on Pride & Destruction.
A sin existed before the “In the beginning” of Gen. 1:1 – before Adam and Eve – and it’s still here today. It’s so common that it’s perceived as good on one hand and bad on the other. When this sin is seen in the things you do, it’s good. When you see yourself as being better than others, this sin is bad. How can something that’s good also harm you if used or exhibited the wrong way? What sin existed before the “beginning”? Pride.
God made the world. He called it good. We make a stature and call it a masterpiece. God made man. He called it good. We bake a cake and we call it wonderful. See the difference? God call things He created out of nothing “good”. We make things out of something God has provided and receive praise beyond praise. It’s hard not to have pride when people exalt you. However, pride can be good if used properly.
Pride is “an unduly high opinion of oneself; arrogance, haughtiness.” It’s also “dignity and self respect; satisfaction in something done.” These definitions seem to contradict each other; actually they’re the extremes of one another. Having satisfaction in something you accomplish is good, but when you believe “only you” can do that same thing right, what was good takes on an air of arrogance. Pride can be good or bad depending on the way it’s expressed.
Three personal lessons about pride
Lesson 1: I cheated on a math test in the third grade. They were on record albums. The reader called off the problem and we had a few seconds to write down our answers. The answers were written on the album cover and I copied them and placed the paper under my sheet. Man, I thought I was good – until the teacher walked around the room and caught me. What hurt most was her look of disappointment. That day I decided never to cheat in math again and it became my best subject. What changed me? Mrs. Porter instilled in me a sense of pride in what I did. This happened in 1969. When I preached my first sermon in 1981 Mrs. Porter was there. She said I was one of her sons and she was very proud of me. The circle was complete.
Lesson 2: In graduate school, I wrote a paper on military leadership style using my mentor, Walter McKinney, as an example. The professor was extremely easy since we were all military people. I wrote the paper and got an “A”. When I showed it to my mentor, he was very disappointed; he knew it didn’t reflect my best work. It was not about the “A”, but the fact I had chosen not to give my best because I knew I didn’t have too. That was 15 years ago. I thought about this incident when I preached his funeral.
If pride is used correctly, it pushes us to higher levels of achievement. But what about the other type of pride? Pride, in the negative sense, has so much influence on us that the Bible warns us to be careful in handling it.
• Proverbs 16:18: Prides goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.
• Proverbs 29:23: A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.
In both verses, it’s clear that pride can lead us to destruction. Why is that? Because it’s not about our wisdom, power or abilities; it’s about God working in and through us. Paul says in Romans 15:18, “I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me….”
“Arrogance” is also associated with pride. When you’re doing the work of the Lord, you want to know you’re doing well and that people are being blessed. However, when that becomes your motivation, you’ve crossed the line. We deal with pride in different ways. Some of us may not have as much of a problem with it than others, but for some it’s like a badge of identification. “I can do because I am gifted….”
We often quote Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you really believe this? If we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, then how is it we’re so quick to take full credit?
How did we get to this point? Where did it start? It started before Adam and Eve were placed in the garden. Isaiah 14: 13-15 compares the fall of the king of Babylon to what happened to Satan. Why was Satan kicked out of heaven? Look at Ezekiel 28:12-19. These verses talk about the King of Tyre, a form of the antichrist. The description of his fall is told by referring to the fall of Satan and explains why Satan rebelled against God.