By Tom Wacaster
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Three-hundred-fifty-three Japanese aircraft were launched from six air craft carriers. The death and destruction at Pearl Harbor wass horrific. It is still considered a day that lives in infamy. America suffered the loss of more than 2,400 lives, and casualties numbering more than 2,000. Damage and/or complete destruction was widespread. All eight of the American battleships were damaged or sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. In addition, 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to America’s entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan. As news spread of the attack reporters struggled to find words to describe what had occurred: “Horrible,” “inhumane,” “barbaric,” to name just a few. Similar words were used to describe the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and/or other inhumane acts that have occurred throughout history. Even as I write these lines Europe is remembering the Holocaust and the millions who died in German concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Time and space would fail us were we to catalogue all of the horrible atrocities against the human race since the beginning of time. And in the words of an old 70’s song, “the beat goes on.”
There is, however, something more devastating, more destructive, and which touches more lives than all of the human atrocities of the last two or three centuries. It has caused more havoc and unrest than ISIS, Nazism, or Alquida combined. I am talking about pride! Various synonyms have been used to define pride: vanity, self-exaltation, haughtiness, self-righteousness, envy, puffed up, disdainful, supercilious, boastful, pompous, self-esteem. Take your pick; they all belong to the same family, and their offspring breeds more of the same. Pride is listed with the seven deadly sins in Proverbs 6:16-19. In fact, it heads the list: “There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes [that’s just another word for pride, TW], a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.” It is apparent that pride does not keep good company. No wonder Solomon gave us the following warning: “Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, Than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Pro. 16:18-19). Let’s take a closer look.
The Origin of Pride
All pride finds its origin in Satan, for it was he who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) and the instigator of all the evil that has poured forth as a result of the dragon’s rampage against humanity (Rev. 12:17). Paul warned that one of the qualifications of an elder is that he be “not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). Paul was not talking about condemnation the devil would pronounce, but God’s condemnation of the devil. The devil may have been the first to exhibit pride, but he certainly was not the last. Cain was so proud that he thought his sacrifice was just as good as his brother Abel’s, and who was God to tell him different? (Gen. 4:1-8). Nadab and Abihu were of the attitude that “any old fire will do,” and their pride brought swift punishment from the Lord (Lev. 10:1-3). Don’t tell me pride is some innocent little attitude problem! It may have originated with Satan, but multitudes have learned from the original arrogant one, and have traveled in his footsteps since the beginning of time.
The Outgrowth of Pride
This will not be, yea cannot be, an exhaustive list, for the simple reason that the damage caused by pride is carried out in almost every other form of sin imaginable to man. Pride is never the final step, but it is rather a springboard, launching the unsuspecting soul into complete degradation and destruction. Pride isolates men from God, insulates the individual from his own faults, and incarcerates a man in a prison house of darkness and despair.
First, pride will lead men into all manner of fleshly abominations. In Ezekiel 16 the prophet addressed the abominations of Jerusalem (Ezek. 16:1). The holy city was utterly unfaithful. So degraded had the nation of Judah become that God compared them to the wicked cities on the plains: “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters” (Ezek. 16:48). The root cause is given in the very next verse: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49). Look across our land today. Homosexuality, immorality, fornication, over-indulgence! I can say without fear of contradiction that America is puffed up, haughty, and arrogant. This is precisely why she is now struggling for her very existence.
Second, pride brings strife and contention. “By pride cometh only contention; But with the well-advised is wisdom” (Pro. 13:10). Show me a congregation embroiled in strife and contention and I’ll show you where at least one, and perhaps many more, of its members is puffed up. Pride is the problem.
Third, pride will prevent growth and stunt spirituality, both individually and congregationally. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Pro. 26:12). The church at Corinth faced the same problem: “Now some are puffed up” (1 Cor. 4:18). “Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other” (1 Cor. 4:6). The church at Corinth was the epitome of division and strife, so much so that Paul placed that sin at the head of the list in his first epistle to this congregation (1 Cor. 1:10-13). If you want to see what pride will do to a congregation’s unity, look at the church at Corinth.
Fourth, pride will bring spiritual and moral decay. Israel of old is an example of this. God had a “controversy with the inhabitants of the land” (Hosea 4:1). Her problem? “There is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 1:2). Ephraim was like a “cake not turned,” scorched on one side, uncooked on the other (Hosea 4:8). So rotten had the nation become that God described her as a sick and decaying nation: “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and fresh stripes: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil” (Isaiah 1:6). The KJV has “putrifying sores” for “wounds.” What was wrong with that once glorious nation? “And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this” (Hosea 7:10).
The Outcome of Pride
There is not a single blessing in all the Bible pronounced upon a man filled with pride. Pride promises but never delivers. Like any other sin, it will take you where you do not want to go, and cost you more than you want to pay. If unchecked, un-repented, and un-renounced, it will lead to one’s fall and eternal loss. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Destruction follows pride as sure as night follows day. It is a one way street that leads to apostasy. Destruction and punishment are all that await the proud. “Jehovah will root up the house of the proud; But he will establish the border of the widow” (Prov. 15:25). The proud will be brought low: “A man's pride shall bring him low; But he that is of a lowly spirit shall obtain honor” (Prov. 29:23). Don’t be deceived, beloved. Pride will be your downfall.
Several years ago Ray Stevens took a humorous jab at pride in his popular song, The Grand Oder of the Alla Babba Temple of the Shrine.” Majestic words and phrases abound throughout the song. We hear of the “Grand Master,” and the “Noble Lumpkin.” The ongoing conversation between “The Illustrious Potentate” and “Bubba” make me laugh every time I listen to the song. Stevens’ satire is quite comical, and I must admit, entertaining. The song ends with Bubba embarrassing the entire Hay Hira delegation, and in a comical way, the fruits of pride are shown to be what they are. We must not forget, however, that pride is a sin that poses a serious threat to every child of God. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6).