Primed for a Downfall
By Dawn Wilson -
I was fifteen, and a bit of a show-off. One day I somehow got the bright idea that I could swing across the room holding on to two parallel counter tops—sort of like being on parallel bars at the gym.
“Look at me!” I yelled to everyone in the room as I ran, placed my hands on the two counters, and made a deep swing forward like an Olympic gymnast.
It was a glorious swing, but I didn’t land right. It wasn’t pretty. I fell to the floor, crashing hard on my rear end. Everyone gasped, but I don’t remember anyone coming to help. They just laughed.
I picked myself up and crept away in embarrassment, my posterior throbbing with pain.
Alone in another room, I remembered a scripture verse I’d heard as a small child. In a newer version it reads, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV).
Talk about a teachable moment!
Pride has been my big downfall for most of my life. Pride keeps me from being real and authentic about my needs. Arrogance makes me compare myself with others and believe I’m better, or if I see that I am “not enough” in my comparison, prideful insecurities make me cast blame or justify my lack. A haughty spirit says “It’s all about me” when the Bible clearly illustrates over and over again that my existence is all about God and His agenda.
I like to think that with wisdom I’ve gained more humility, but the opposite is also true. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (NIV).
Humility is a choice. The scriptures tell us to humble ourselves (James 4:10), and if we don’t, God will allow opportunities for us to be humbled, because He hates and opposes pride and the behaviors that come from self-exalting attitudes (Proverbs 8:13; James 4:6).
In Luke 1:52 it says, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones….” We see this in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar who lost his kingdom after he exalted himself. He suffered until he finally exalted “the King of heaven” (Daniel 4). Pride has brought down many leaders throughout history, but pride isn’t only a sin for kings. It is rooted in the hearts of every one of us.
J.C. Ryle wrote, “Pride sits in all our hearts by nature. We are born proud.” Pride blinds us to our faults, keeps us from admitting sin, makes us self-righteous, keeps us independent from God and others, and worst of all, is an obstacle to trusting in Christ.
One of the ways I fight pride is to embrace my identity in Christ. All that I am is wrapped up in what the Lord has done for me. I not only have a new identity in Him, but also absolute security, dignity and purpose.
Because I sense the destructiveness of pride, I tell people to be alert and watch out for it. If we allow pride to dwell in our hearts unchecked, we are primed for an eventual downfall. And believe me, it’s going to hurt.