James 4:6 (NIV) "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' "
The story of Esther intrigues me; the true making of a Hollywood classic. A disgruntled queen who is replaced, Haman the villain, Mordecai the servant, and Esther the hero to the Jews are the characters in this modern day soap opera. The more I study the book of Esther, the more life lessons I glean in the fallout between Haman and Mordecai. One such lesson is, how pride damages our life and relationships with others and with God.
The book of Esther reveals Mordecai's heart of commitment. Haman, who was in a seat of honor higher than all other nobles insists that Mordecai bow before him. He is enraged when Mordecai refuses to kneel or pay him honor. Haman retaliates by issuing a decree to slaughter not only Mordecai, but his people the Jews.
Esther 6 records another account of Haman's ego. The King wanted to honor a certain individual. Haman naturally presumes it is himself. He proceeds to tell the King the extravagant way one should be honored. After his fanciful description, the King orders Haman to honor Mordecai in such a way. This becomes Haman's humiliation.
Haman was full of himself. A person full of themselves is spiritually empty. A person full of themselves is prideful. The root of pride is selfishness. Pride is an undue sense of one's own superiority. I am not talking about a proper sense of personal dignity and worth. I am talking about elevating ourselves above others, having an elevated view of ourself, or the tendency to look out for our own interests instead of the interests of others.
Pride damages our relationship with God. Scripture is clear in James; God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Think about it. How can grace, an undeserved gift, be received when pride encompasses a heart? The word for oppose means to do battle against or resist. God battles against and resists the proud but delivers grace to the humble because a humble person is not consumed with self interest. Privilege, entitlement and arrogance are the very antithesis of a life in Christ.
Pride also affects our relationship with people and how we view others. Prideful people are often insecure because pride causes confusion with our personal value and where we derive our worth. If our personal value can be made just a little bit higher in relation to others then we are obviously better than them, so we think. Until we realize the smallness of our greatness and where our value comes from, we hurt the relationships we have with others because it's as if we always have to prove ourselves.
When we were newlyweds our in-laws visited our new little apartment that I took great pride in, too much in fact. Everything was tidy and clean, baking was done before hand. We were ready for the white glove test. After dinner my sister-n-law and I washed dishes. She noticed that our stainless steel pans had accumulated some residue. She asked if I had an SOS pad, to which I said no. Who needs SOS pads? Soap and water is just fine. I'll just scrub harder. Who is she to question how I wash dishes?
The next day she bought me some SOS pads. She proceeds to demonstrate, with the prior evening dishes, how easily they take off the scum. Lovely. In my arrogance, I was not thrilled with another woman instructing me on how to wash my dishes. This little episode infuriated me because I thought she now had the upper hand, so to speak. The perfection I wanted to display was crumbling. How could I admit that someone else had a great idea or that I was wrong? My heart was not in the right place. My pride hindered our relationship. I had to humble myself and admit that I wasn't "all that". (I have wised up. I'll have you know I cannot live without SOS pads! :) ).
Pride sneaks its way into our lives in seemingly innocent and sly ways. For example:
- Parenting becomes a competition: Johnny is still not sleeping through the night and he's four months old. Or, He's still not potty trained. Or, I'm so glad my kids are not like theirs.
- Being better at something than someone else fuels the fire of pride. Why don't we just walk around with our resumes taped to us so everyone know how great we are.
- Friendships are destroyed because personal insecurities cause us to envy or pass judgment on another. I would look that good too if I could afford the spa membership and personal trainer.
- The one thing that irritates a heart filled with arrogance is always the one thing it cannot control or dominate. We like to categorize people in an effort to minimize them. They are weak, strong, introverted, busy, lazy, talented, challenged, flaky, committed, sweet, sour, shallow, insecure, . . . and the list goes on. When we do this it is a ploy to heighten ourselves in order to steamroll another. This way, we don't have to deal with our own weaknesses.
Haman was threatened by Mordecai. Haman's personal value was challenged when Mordecai wouldn't bow. Haman's sense of value, his understanding of who he was and why he was valuable was not backed up with the truth of God's love for him. Haman did not worship God, he worshiped himself. All who worship themselves do not have a clear comprehension of who they really are. Those who worship themselves leave no room for God.
Beth Moore says this about pride: My name is Pride. I am a Cheater. She goes on to say:
- I cheat you of your God-given destiny because you demand your own way.
- I cheat you of contentment because you "deserve better" than this.
- I cheat you of knowledge because you already "know it all".
- I cheat you of healing because you are too full of "Me" to forgive".
- I cheat you of holiness because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
- I cheat you of vision because you would rather look in the mirror than out the window.
- I cheat you of genuine friendship because nobody is ever going to know the real you.
- I cheat you of love because REAL romance demands a sacrifice.
- I cheat you of greatness in Heaven because you refuse to wash somebody else's feet here on earth.
- I cheat you of God's glory because I've convinced you that you better seek your own glory.
- I am pride and I am a cheater. You like me because you think I am always looking out for you but that is so untrue. I am looking to make a fool out of you.
- God has so much for you, but as long as you stick with me (pride), you'll never know.
Amen Beth! Pride is definitely a cheater!!
Join me next week for part 2.
Ask the Lord to reveal any areas of pride in your life. Recognize any seeds of arrogance that are being nurtured in your heart. Surrender this weakness to His Lordship and allow Him to lift you up.
How is pride inhibiting your spiritual growth?
Are you so full of yourself there is no room for God?
From the list above, how is pride cheating you?
Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 149:4 (NIV) "For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."
Isaiah 66:2b "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."
Matthew 23:12 "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
James 4: 10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
1 Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time."
* Praying God's Word - Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore pages 38-40;
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.