The Sin of Pride


                Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men —extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18: 9 – 14.)


                In this parable, two men approached God to pray.  The religious man, believing he was righteous, lacked a fear of God.  In his self-centered address, he used the word “I” no less than five times.  He was proud of his own good works.  To maintain his inflated ego, he elevated himself above others; comparing himself to outright sinners ensured the preservation of his self-righteous status.  The tax-collector was a social outcast; yet he so greatly feared God that he couldn’t even look up toward heaven (in the ancient world, tax-collectors were hated and loathsome; they amassed wealth through extortion and dishonesty.)  This tax-collector despised himself for his many sins (beating his chest.)  In humility, God remained the focus of his prayer.  Recognizing his own filthiness he begged for God’s mercy.  He also refrained from comparing himself to others; instead, he compared himself to God; in so doing, he saw himself for who he really was; a sinner.  Most consider adultery, murder, rape, robbery, and torture to be the most serious sins.  Yet Pride can be more destructive than rape and more damaging than murder.  Pride immediately separates a person from God; pride must be disposed of before one can enter the Lord’s eternal Kingdom.  True believers should abandon prideful pursuits in favor of lowliness (Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”)  Humility is the precious jewel of God’s treasure room; a treasure that the tax-collector possessed and Pharisee lacked.

                Satan was once an angel named Lucifer.  He occupied a very prominent role in heaven.  He was beautiful; one of the most eloquently decorated of all of God’s creations.  He was also infused with an abundance of divine knowledge and wisdom.  At some point, Lucifer became prideful.  Instead of worshiping God, he desired to be worshipped.  In his attempt to ascend above God, he convinced 1/3 of the angels to rebel.  Lucifer was cast out of heaven along with the rebellious angels (presently, these fallen angels are the demons who roam the earth seeking to corrupt the works of God.)  The first sin ever committed wasn’t murder, or adultery; it wasn’t rape or incest; instead, it was pride.  Even today, pride plays a role in nearly every act of spiritual disobedience.  Pride immediately separates the Father from his children; it prohibits entry in to God’s kingdom.  Not surprisingly then, the Lord has revealed that extreme humility is the pathway to perfection; no one will enter the heavenly realm unless they lay down their pride and pick up their cross [In the Old Testament, Absalom (David’s son) was one of the most handsome men in antiquity; we read, “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom.”  He was rather proud of his long, thick, beautiful hair.  At some point, Absalom rebelled against his Father David and the kingdom was plunged in to a short civil war.  During a decisive battle, Absalom was riding a mule through the forest, when his head snagged in a tree (likely his long thick hair was the culprit.)  The mule continued walking, leaving him suspended, dangling in the air.  Unable to free himself, he was eventually stabbed to death.  (We may likely assume that) The very thing he was most prideful of led to his demise.  To avoid being snagged by the things of this world, a disciple must dispose of conceited pursuits.

                Pride leads to death; humility leads to everlasting life.  Prideful endeavors must be abandoned if they cannot be endured with meekness.  Sit down and examine your life; is there vanity?  Are there portions of your heart that desire beauty, power, property or prestige?  If we discover pride and self-righteousness, then we have uncovered a horrible sin; a sin that needs to be dealt with swiftly and immediately.  Seek to be lowly and turn away from prideful pursuits; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  May God remove pride from your heart.  May you give God the glory, and may God continually bless you, as you serve others with lowliness and humility.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire meekness.  Please cut the pride from our hearts and cleanse of all unrighteousness.  May we seek to serve rather than to be served.  May we desire lowliness, and may we embrace humility; may we never raise ourselves above others; rather, may we always see ourselves in the light of Your glory and grace.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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