A Deadly Serpent Among Us

There is a sin that has been accepted by generations of Christians.   We rarely hear sermons on it.  We rarely read books or articles on this topic.  And yet…

It has destroyed countless churches.  Families have fallen prey to its merciless grasp by the thousands.  It is has ripped apart friendships.  It has influenced school boards.  It has  shaped government in a big way.  But it has also affected small children.  This serpent slithers its way through most of our lives, rearing its head at any given moment.

It reared its ugly head in Bible times, in the Middle Ages, and during the Civil War.  In fact, it has existed in many different forms throughout all time.

What is this sin?  Pride.  Pride has invaded, in one form or another, every relationship and every institution.  Think for a moment.   The last time you had an argument…what was it about?   Or the last time you grew stonily silent and angry…what was it about?    So often we are so full of ourselves.  We are so convinced that we are right.  We are so determined to get our own way.   And when we realize, oftentimes later, that we have messed up, do we humble ourselves and apologize?

Why is apologizing so hard?   It takes a lot of courage for a person to admit they were wrong.  It takes a lot of humility.  Humility can be rather elusive, can’t it?   It is so valuable in a Christian’s life and yet so few of us have genuine humility.  Oh, there is lots of fake humility going on…”You did great at such and such”….”Awww, shucks, no I didn’t”.  But that is not humility.

So what does humble mean, anyway?   It means “not proud, not arrogant; modest” according to dictionary.com.   And pride?  Pride means “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

Humility requires thinking of the other person at the expense…yes, EXPENSE, of ourselves. Humility costs a lot.  It may mean we are tramped upon.  It may mean we are taken advantage of.   It may mean we need to forego our own advancement and our personal “rights”.  We cannot even come to the cross without humility.  Unless we realize just how sinful we are…how full of self…how depraved…we cannot begin to even comprehend what the Savior did for us on the cross.

As I am writing, I can think of dozens of examples of situations that could have been solved except for pride.  They were not issues of biblical doctrine.   People just couldn’t get along.  Husbands or wives who just could not admit that they were wrong and take steps to fix the issue, but instead decided to part ways.  Church leaders who held themselves aloft and would not admit to wrongdoing chose instead to split their churches into pieces.  Business owners who continue to claim they handled things well…even as their companies are in bankruptcy.

But, let’s bring it a little closer to home.  When I think of the last few times I have found myself in a disagreement with someone, I know that most times it was stupid.  Yes, I admit it.  It was stupid.  I was standing up for something because of my stupid pride.  It didn’t even matter.  And for the handful of times that it did matter…that it was truly important to express my viewpoint…well, how I went about it was prideful.

I think pride has so invaded our daily lives, that we give it little thought.  In fact, I think in our culture, we often condone it.  We hear that we should stand up for “our rights”.  We hear that we need to “love ourselves”  and increase our “self-esteem”.  But the Bible tells me we already love ourselves (Luke 10:27).  We are commanded to love our neighbor like we already love ourself.

I fear I have not done this topic the justice it deserves.  I fear that churches and families around me will continue to fall, unless we…one by one…kill this serpent within our own homes and churches.  It needs to start with us.

In conclusion, I leave you with a list of verses on this topic:

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.

Proverbs 13:10 By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.

James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Psalm 25:9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.

Matthew 23:12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.

Psalm 147:6 The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Psalm 18:27 For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty look.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

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