In scanning the headlines today, I noticed an untold story lying at the root of the news -- human pride. I'm not talking about pride in the sense of self-dignity or self-respect, but in the sense of arrogance, hubris, and haughtiness.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s classic speech, "I have a dream." In that speech, the Baptist preacher quoted Isaiah from the Bible, including the point that in due time, the humble ("every valley") shall be exalted and the proud ("every hill and mountain") laid low: "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
This is a common theme of the Bible: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Said Solomon famously, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “Be not proud of race, face, place, or Grace.” There’s a classic story told about Spurgeon, the terrific Reformed Baptist preacher of 19th century London. One day after church, a proper Victorian woman was commending him for his sermon, when a drunk happened to stumble by.
The woman made a face, expressing her disgust at the drunk, and said, “Well, I never!” And Spurgeon, looking over at the same drunk, said, “But for the grace of God go you or I, Madam.”
Pride often robs us of our ability to see things properly. We compare ourselves with our neighbors and come off better (in our minds) than we really are before an all-holy seeing God.
To the Christian, the sin of pride is among the greatest evils. C. S. Lewis likened it to spiritual cancer. In fact, listen to what the great British scholar (a professor at Oxford, then later Cambridge) had to say on the subject: “...the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison....it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.”
One of the greatest rulers from antiquity was King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B. C.). He has a lot to teach us about pride and its destructive nature. Thankfully, the important lessons surrounding him were recorded in the Bible and thus preserved for all time.