If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 4, Psalms 129–131, Isaiah 64, Matthew 12. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalm 131.
Pride is, perhaps, the most self-damaging attitude a person can have. It is self-damaging on multiple levels. First, if others detect pride in you, it lowers their estimation of you as a person. Have you ever met someone who was obviously in love with their own intellect, enamored with their own talents, and impressed with their own accomplishments? Did his or her pride make you think more of them? Of course not; so the social cost of pride is one way in which it damages us.
Pride also damages us in the sense that it keeps us from learning and growing. You cannot teach a proud person because that person will not believe that they have anything to learn. It takes humility to admit that you are wrong or that you are ignorant. If you’re too proud to do that, you can’t learn. As jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis once said, “The humble improve.” If you’re stuck anywhere in life, you should start getting unstuck by asking yourself if your pride is what is impeding your progress. Chances are, it is.
A third way in which we damage ourselves with pride is that pride prevents us from truly knowing God. Proud people believe that God owes them something; they feel that their moral character or good works entitles them to God’s love and favor. By failing to understand God’s perfection, they fail also to see how far each of us falls short of him and deserves his judgment, not his favor. Repentance is the opposite of pride and sinners can never know God without repenting first of our wickedness and disobedience. Furthermore, the proud believe that they can figure God out; they think that the almighty can be comprehended by mere mortals—maybe not all mortals, but the smart ones at least. This is where Psalm 131 begins; the author describes the state of his heart as a place of humility in verse 1a. He augments that thought by saying that his appearance is not marked by pride either (v. 1b). Nobody outside of him will charge him with pride because, in his heart, is not too proud. The evidence of his humility is described in verses 1c-d: “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” It is not that he never wonders about these things or tries to understand them; rather, he doesn’t allow his inability to understand them to undermine his faith. A proud person would say, I cannot believe in a God I don’t understand; a humble man will realize that if God is worth believing in, his nature, his character, and his ways must be beyond human comprehension. A god that people have figured out is a god that is too small to worship in awe and too dull to fascinate us for eternity. While we are certainly able to understand what God has revealed to us, we can only understand anything about him because God has revealed it to us. It takes humility to realize that everything I know about God I only understand because of his grace, his revelation.
In verse 2 the Psalmist compares his spiritual status to a contented baby. A baby is incapable of understanding his mother but he finds contact with her comforting. What he knows is that she loves him and will do anything it takes to care for him; when he accepts that truth, he is able to rest in contentment despite what he does not understand. In verse 3, the Psalmist urges Israel to find that same contentment by putting their hope in God. A proud person hopes in himself; those who want to know God, by contrast, receive by faith what God has to give and find their comfort in him.
Are you too proud to really know God or have you humbled yourself so that you can put all your hope in him?
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.