By Dn Ronnie Tan
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
(1 Peter 5:5)
God hates pride. The Bible has a number of verses which reminds us how God values humility. Apart from the two verses mentioned above, there are other verses such as Proverbs 16:18; Philippians 2:3, 29:23; 1 Peter 5:5. In addition, God also hates those with “a proud look”. (Proverbs 6:17)
The Bible contains a number of lessons showing how God deals with the proud. Some of the consequences are terrible indeed! Here are some examples:
– Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt even though he had seen for himself how neither he nor his magicians can never outmatch God’s power. (Exodus 7:8-12) Pharaoh’s intransigence persisted despite Egypt having to go through 9 plagues before he finally let the Israelites go – after the tenth plague claimed his son’s life. Even after that, he pursued the departing Israelites and saw his pursuing army of 600 chariots drown in the Red Sea. (Exodus 14)
– Goliath defied the army of the living God (1 Samuel 17:10). In modern parlance, he called the Israelite army cowards and insulted them. As the story goes, Goliath paid for his pride and folly with his life.
– King Saul foolishly thought he could offer sacrifices to the Lord, even though he knew that was the sole domain of Samuel and the high priest. (1 Samuel 15). His pride not only caused him to lose his kingdom but it would also cost his sons their lives, one of whom was David’s best friend, Jonathan.
– In Daniel 4:30-33, we are told how God punished Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar for giving all glory to himself for making Babylon great, instead of acknowledging God’s sovereign power. He ended up living in the field and eating grass like cattle for seven years! It was only after he had acknowledged God’s sovereignty that he was restored. (Daniel 4:34-37)
– The Pharisees loved to be seen and praised for their “piety”. However, our Lord Jesus was not impressed at all. (Luke 18:9-14) On the contrary, our Lord clearly made it known that he found their behavior repugnant.
Often time, it is hard to be humble, even though we may know for sure that being humble in certain situations would not be to our advantage. However, the Bible showed us this was not an impossible task, with the story of Jonathan being a case in point. On one occasion, he was nearly killed by his father for standing up for David, even though he knew he would not be the next king if David was allowed to live. (1 Samuel 20:30-33) Indeed, Jonathan’s willingness to humble himself by letting David be the next king holds an invaluable lesson for us.
Years ago, before I started my National Service, I had developed a stereotyped image of my Hokkien-speaking peers, largely because most of my early encounters with them were unpleasant. Sadly, I carried on having such prejudiced views of them when I started my NS. God certainly wanted to put a stop to it. To humble me, God put me in a platoon full of Hokkien-speaking soldiers during my basic military training and when I was posted to a unit! I wondered, “God, why did you throw me into the deep-end?” As the days went by, God showed me why he wanted me to live, work, and eat with them; He wanted to humble me and show me how prejudiced I was and that I should come down from my lofty perch, get to know them better and love them as the Lord would.
The drivers I worked with were, of course, not averse to using colourful language and some “tricks”. However, what surprised me was their work ethic. They were prepared to work hard and some of them were even more conscientious while carrying out their duties than the better-educated NS men! Despite their tough exterior, they had hearts of gold too, as some showed they were not averse to going the extra mile for me when I needed their help. I not only learned to understand them better and I also ended up learning a lot more from them than I thought! I thank God for showing me the beam in my own eye and for stopping me from focusing on the mote in the eyes of others (Matthew 7:3-5) and most importantly, for humbling me during my NS years.
It is not easy to eat the humble pie. However, when God shows us where we have gone wrong, may we remember that God does so because He loves us as a father would love his child. (Proverbs 3:11-12) When friends and loved ones show us our mistakes, may we remember that they care (Proverbs 27:6,17) and God’s Word commands us to help those who are at fault. (Galatians 6:1) Furthermore, if we humble ourselves, God’s word says He will give us grace (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) and exalt us. (1 Petr 5:6) O Lord God, humble me, so that I can receive Your grace and be used by You for Your intended purposes. Let not pride take hold of me! Amen!