By Gene A. Getz
Over the years I’ve met people who have done some very stupid things.
They know it, others know it—and yet they won’t admit it. Somehow they believe they can avoid detection by ignoring reality—or making another foolish decision.
Sorry! Didn’t mean to get too personal. Actually, I could share a few stories on myself.What I’m illustrating is the “power of pride.” We see this played out again and again in Scripture.
But King Herod illustrates the depths of evil this sin can lead to. He was living in an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. Her name was Herodius. John the Baptist had confronted both of them with this immoral situation.
Herod knew John was right and even protected him, but Herodius hated him and wanted him killed. Her opportunity came at a regal banquet when Herod was feeling unusually “happy” from too much wine. Herodius, knowing her husband’s sexual appetites—which were no doubt accentuated in his inebriated state—had her own daughter dance erotically in front of him and his guests.
It worked! Herod, motivated by his lustful inhibitions, told this young woman he would give her whatever she asked for. Right on que, her mother told her to ask for John’s death. It’s a grotesque and nauseating scene (Mark 6:14-29).
In spite of his mental and emotional condition, Herod knew he had made a terrible mistake. But because he had made this offer in front of his many guests—which was probably also part of Herodius’ plan—he refused to do the right thing. Herodius also knew the “power of pride”—and she used it to the full. Rather than admitting it would be terribly wrong to take John’s life—who Herod actually feared because he knew he was a righteous man—he allowed his pride to stand in the way. Sadly, it led to John’s gruesome martyrdom.
Though the specifics in this event may be far removed from our own experiences, there is a factor we can all relate to. It is indeed the “power of pride”! True, our motives and actions may not equate with Herod’s in terms of alcohol and sexual lust, but if we’re honest, we must admit that we have made inappropriate decisions that have created serious problems. Rather than admitting that we were wrong, we have allowed pride to cause us to cover up the problem.
SOME POWERFUL PROVERBS
Let me share with you some “proverbs” that flow throughout this Old Testament book. They are warnings against pride and arrogance:
- “Arrogant eyes” are at the top of the list of seven things the Lord hates the most (6:16-19).
- Pride leads to disgrace and humility leads to wisdom (11:2).
- Humility leads to honor (15:33).
- Pride leads to a downfall (18:12).
- “Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart” indicate sin (21:4).
- Mocking others is a reflection of “excessive pride” (21:24).
- Humility leads to godly fear (22:4).
- Pride will ultimately humble a person (29:23).
Our greatest example of pride in the Bible is Satan and our greatest example of humility is Jesus Christ. To defeat Satan we must put on the whole armor of God and at the same time imitate Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).
A POWERFUL EXAMPLE
I have a very dear friend named Kristianna who lives in Canada. She’s now in college but I first met her when she was just eight years old. She had just received some new prosthetic legs and feet and she was indeed a happy little girl.
You see, because of a blood disorder, Kristianna had lost all four of her limbs when she was just nine months old. She grew up not knowing what it’s like to do all the things most of us do so naturally.
We’ve become great friends. We communicate regularly by email. I’ve become her long distance father and pastor. Sadly, her dad left the family shortly after I met her. That too was a painful experience.
I’ve never forgotten one email. She was in the 8th grade and shared how other kids were making nasty and hurtful remarks because of her condition. Even at that age her classmates where “mocking her”—which is, as the proverb states—a reflection of “excessive pride” (21:24).
What a little soldier Kristianna was—and still is—as a growing young woman. She loves Jesus and wants to serve Him all her life, reflecting His humble servant spirit. She has been a great example to me personally.
This article is based on the principle that is found on page 857 in the Life Essentials Study Bible authored by Gene Getz and published by Broadman and Holman.
Note: to view a video message from Gene Getz entitled “Pride vs. Humility,” Click here