A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
All of Israel’s sin and problems can be boiled down and pinned to one character flaw: pride. It is a root of all kinds of evil. From it grows and branches off every sin imaginable under heaven. It is what caused the first woman to be tempted by the serpent, what prompted Lucifer’s rebellion and subsequent fall from heaven, and what continues to keep broken and sinful people away from the loving, gracious God.
“The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the LORD their God,
nor seek him, for all this.”
Pride accomplishes nothing. It only alienates, pushes people away, and leads us deeper into sin. It causes us to look beyond ourselves and pin the blame on others. It leads us to falsehood and prompts us to speak lies against the Lord in order to justify and rationalize our sin.
Israel’s pride kept them from experiencing God’s healing, redemption, and forgiveness. Because they held so strongly to their sinful pride, they brought destruction upon themselves and their children. They became a slave to their sin and their pride blinded them to that fact. Consequently, they rejected the discipline and correction of the LORD and instead trusted in their own wisdom and strength. This decision landed them in bondage to Assyria and many years of exile—all because of pride.
“Woe to them, for they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them, but they speak lies against me.”
We also need to be watchful against this powerful enemy. Pride can enter our minds and hearts stealthily and gradually to the extent that we barely perceive its slow advances. However, eventually it will take over and run our lives. So we need to halt this wayward attitude in its tracks, we need to keep it from getting through the front door of our hearts and conquer it before it can gain a foothold. For, once it is has taken root, all manner of sins grow and flourish from it.
But how do we identify pride in our lives? The easiest way is by looking at humility. Humility is the complete opposite of pride. It puts others before self, acknowledges weaknesses, and looks to God for all things. The truest example and definition of humility is summed up in the life of Christ. He perfectly exemplified this God-honoring, vital character quality. Every area in which we fall short of Jesus’ perfect example is probably due to pride.
However, we must beware. When trying to identify pride in our lives, we must be ruthless. We live in a society that repackages and renames pride into positive values such as independence, self-reliance, and a can-do spirit. While these things at first glance are not necessarily bad, at their core is a subtle attitude of pride—a mentality that we, in and of ourselves, can do anything, that we don’t need anyone’s help, but by our strength and might we will conquer the world. The truth, however, is that we are weak, powerless human beings who must fully rely upon God’s strength. We cannot do anything of note on our own, but only by the strength given through Christ.
So let us keep watch for this subtle yet deadly enemy called pride. Let us learn from the mistakes of Israel and not follow in their footsteps. But instead let us become a people of humility, beautifully modeling the life and attitude of Christ. He is our example whom we are called to follow. So may we do so with reverence, endurance, faithfulness, and humility.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”