A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble spirit will obtain honour (Prov.29:23).
God is at war with the pride of the human heart. Of course, it’s always easier and convenient in this context, for us to think of the pride of those who don’t know God.
But their pride is rarely my problem. Of far greater importance and danger to me, is the pride of the person I see each morning, in the mirror. That really is my problem, and if I don’t recognise it and repent of it regularly, it could destroy me. A husband’s pride will lead to him ill-treating his wife, his family and others through sins of omission or commission, and we’d better take this seriously.
The pride of the human heart, and the need to willingly embrace humility, is a common theme in scripture. When I attended part-time Bible School in the years 1975-1977, the Dean of the School used to take us for Sermon Class. A humble man, he died two years ago aged 84, and one text he repeatedly used, was James 4:6, which says,
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
There really are a lot of Biblical texts that emphasise this. No doubt there is a significant study to be made on the subject, but it wouldn’t be popular with the proud. One central text is that Jesus
…humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him… (Phil.2:8-9).
The human heart gravitates towards pride first, because pride seems to agree with our fallen human nature, whereas humility seems irrelevant, and won’t flatter me. Pride tells us that we are important, we are capable, and that God really needs us in His kingdom to get the job done, and I should be given a free hand, for there really are very few people in my class of person!
But pride won’t remind us of our innate tendencies towards sin, to self-justification to cover up our foolish and rebellious motivations, thoughts and acts. After all, surely these must be really minor blemishes in a wonderful life of honour and praise to God!
Paul explains the absurdity of this attitude:
…What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (I Cor.4:7).
In the home and family, a husband’s pride wants to be self-assertive and draw attention to my “wonderful” achievements, to stress my positive contributions, my glorious leadership and thoughtful, discerning and altogether wise care of the family.
Pride tends to ignore or (like Nabal –I Sam.25) at least minimise or take no notice of what others have done to protect against domestic dangers, ensure that home jobs were done, that home economies were met, bills have been paid, and all the plans for shopping and the myriad household tasks have been accomplished, by others.
Pride gets to be fuming and angry at the jibe directed at the husband and father, which says:
Do you want to talk to the man in charge… or to the woman who knows what she’s talking about?
Pride wants to be honoured by prominent people, and wants it now, the very thing that Saul wanted, when he’d been confronted by Samuel for his foolish, disobedient behaviour (I Sam.15:24-25).
My pride says I should be excused for my laziness, understood for my weaknesses, and that my losses of temper or outbursts of anger, or failures to keep up with the most basic of my domestic responsibilities in the home and family, or personal stubbornness, shouldn’t be noted as being significant by others. Of course.
We either humble ourselves, as the Bible says Jesus did, or God humbles us. This second option is not a nice one, because it invariably means some form of His judgement. We are much wiser to accept the disciplines of God’s Word, and those around us, willingly and voluntarily.
Pride is Satanic. Is it in me? Absolutely. As a husband and father, do I need to be regularly turning away from and repenting of pride, and all forms of sin? Absolutely. And the Biblical promise is clear:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (I Pet.5:6).
Will I let my wife challenge me if she identifies my attitudes of pride and sin, if ever she should wish to? We should let the Bible answer that question:
An excellent wife who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain (Prov.31:10-11).