One of the most quoted scriptures from the Bible is Proverbs 16:18. This verse tells us “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (ESV). Pride is defined as the feeling of satisfaction over your achievements or the achievements of someone close to you. Being proud of a friend or family member is not a sin, and having a healthy self-esteem is a good thing. However, when pride enters dangerous territory, it means that you’re placing achievements above other people. Comparatively speaking, pride may not seem like much, but it’s at the center of our struggle as Christians. Pride is the very thing that led to Satan’s fall while Christ’s humility led to our salvation.
If you’re looking for an example of the ramifications of pride, look no further than the fall of Satan. The Bible doesn’t go into a lot of contextual detail; there are only two passages that seem to shed light on the Satan’s history. The highest of angels, Satan’s pride got the better of him as he wanted to be God instead of serve God. Isaiah briefly accounts why God barred Satan from heaven:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,[a] son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-17, NKJV)
It was Satan’s pride that led to God’s wrath, and after God sent him away, Lucifer no longer had access to heaven.
By contrast, Jesus was the son of God, the Word who had been with God from the beginning (John 1:1). But, even as God’s son, Jesus was used by God as a sacrifice. Long before his crucifixion, Jesus focused on humility and serving those around him. A prime example is when he washes the feet of his disciples. After he has finished, he tells them:
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:14-17, NIV)
While pride may appear to elevate its recipient, it is actually a prison that keeps the focus on your accomplishments instead of valuing others. It is sobering to consider that pride is at the center of our Christian story; a defining characteristic between good and evil is Satan’s pride compared to Christ’s humility. So take the time to search your heart for traces of pride. Try not to focus on your achievements, but instead ask yourself how you can use them to serve others. Cultivate a spirit of humility and know that when you put others above yourself, you are mirroring the character of our Savior.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV)
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In your service,