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The Danger of Pride

Friday, February 23, 2024 @ 11:06 AM The Danger of Pride Matthew White The Stand Writer MORE

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, [saying, It is] the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost (Acts 12:21-23).

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, on the second day of games and sporting events taking place in Caesarea to celebrate the founding of the city and to honor the Caesar, King Herod Agrippa I stepped forth into the Caesarean amphitheater to address the crowds.

Luke tells us that Herod was arrayed in royal apparel” (Acts 12:21). Josephus describes the royal apparel as a robe woven from threads made of pure silver, and that Herod made his entrance in the morning, a time when the sun’s rays fell on the silver robe in such a way that it seemed to illuminate it.

The contents of Herod’s address are not disclosed in Scripture, but the response of the people is.

And the people gave a shout, [saying, It is] the voice of a god, and not of a man (Acts 12:22).

The tense of the Greek word for “shout” suggests the crowd kept on shouting, and calling out to him. In other words, it was a continuous, thunderous applause with the people bestowing upon a man a title deserving only of God.

Picture Herod, clothed in dazzling apparel, elevated above all upon his throne,” being continually praised by men and seen by them as a god. Herod, in all his vanity soaks it in, just basking in the moment.

Unbeknownst to him, however, he had crossed the line with God, and because of his pride, in only a few short days, he would be dead.

Luke tells us why: And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:23).

Herod made no attempt to stop the crowds and redirect their praise to the only One deserving of it. Instead, he allowed them to continue, and he loved every minute of it.

But his pride was his undoing, and a sobering reminder that God’s glory will not be shared with another. (Isaiah 42:8)

Josephus records that when Herod was struck the pain was so intense he had to be carried out of the theater, and that he suffered from intense pain for five days before he finally died.

Of Herod, Oliver Greene said,

“In his pride he was willing to accept the worship of men. He enjoyed being flattered and looked upon as a god. He sought personal praise, he wanted to be thought of as a great and important person. Herod took the praise and honor that is due to God alone, and divine judgment struck.”

What a warning to us about the danger of pride.

We see numerous examples in Scripture of kings and peoples who, at the pinnacle of their own power, being consumed with pride, were judged, and great was their fall.

There are not only examples in Scripture dealing with the issue of pride, but there are explicit commands warning of the great danger.

The Psalmist warns in Psalm 10 that pride is wickedness, and that the prideful do not seek God or consider Him at all.

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4).

The book of Proverbs has quite a bit to say about pride.

These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).

Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD: [though] hand [join] in hand, he shall not be unpunished (Proverbs 16:5).

Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better [it is to be] of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:18-19).

Do you want to know the tricky thing about pride?

The tricky thing about pride is that most of the time we are unaware of it. Pride creeps in subtly and slowly over time, and it can be difficult to detect.

I recently read an essay entitled Undiscerned Spiritual Pride, written by Jonathan Edwards, the famous 18th century Puritan preacher and theologian.

Edwards said,

“Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption, because its nature very much consists in a person’s having too high a thought of himself. No wonder that he who has too high a thought of himself, does not know it; for he necessarily thinks that the opinion of himself was without just grounds, he would therein cease to have it.”

In a recent sermon, I took the primary areas Edwards presented where spiritual pride may be lurking, turned them into questions, and then presented them as a spiritual pride test to myself and our congregation.

We would do well to ask ourselves the following questions often, while allowing the Lord to search our hearts “and see if there be any wicked way” (Psalm 139:24) in us.

1.) Are we quick to find fault in others? Do we have a tendency to minor on our own faults, while magnifying the faults of others? As we are listening to a sermon, do we ever think, “Man I wish so and so was here to hear that. They really need it.?”

2.) Are we overly focused on external appearances? Are we more concerned with what we, or our home, or our possessions look like on the outside, the part that man sees, than we are the inside, the part that God sees?

3.) Are we stiff and unbending? Not in regards to doctrine and standing on God’s Word of course, rather, do we always insist on having our way, while completely disregarding the fact that others have wishes that should be considered?

4.) Do we think we are better than others and refuse to interact with sinners? I’m not implying we go places of ill repute and hang out with sinners, but have we become so pious that we look down on and have nothing to do with those Christ has called us to share the Gospel with?

5.) Are we overly defensive? Do we anger when someone offers loving and constructive criticism or council? Do we bristle at the thought of being corrected, and if someone does correct us, do we think “How dare they; who do they think they are?”

6.) Are we overly-confident? When we are dealing with any serious situation in life, are we so confident that we don’t even feel the need to hear from others? When a problem arises, are we so confident that our first thought is, “Well, that’s someone else’s fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.?” In other words, do we lack introspection? Do we lack the ability to look inward and ask, “Could I be at fault here?”

7.) Do we seek attention? Are we so full of ourselves that we think we need to be the center of attention? Do we think we are so great that we are offended if someone doesn’t ask for our help or our opinion on a matter?

8.) Are we neglectful of others? Are we so consumed with ourselves, our life, our needs, and our desires, that we forget that we have been called to serve others?

This handful of questions is certainly not exhaustive, as there are many areas in which that original sin may be found hiding.

But if asked with an open mind while allowing God to search us, they can be very probing and detect pride in areas we may not have considered.

It can be uncomfortable to realize that pride has snuck into our lives, but at least then we can deal with it. Taking the initiative to deal with our own pride is far better than allowing it to linger to the point that God deals with it.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:10).

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