Sometimes I wonder if I am a proud person. I often credit only myself with the things I have accomplished, even when I know God was involved. It is not surprising because human beings are a proud people. We have also learned to be a stubborn people. The Lord God even called His chosen Israelites “a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 32:9 ESV) Since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, humanity has chosen again and again to embrace pride and forge their own way ahead, even when it was blatantly against the instructions of God. Do you think humans have changed much since the Old Testament days? Personally, I don’t think we have. I confess that, too often, I seek my own way instead of asking God for His guidance. Too often, I take credit for things I know I could never have done without God’s help.
“Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The admonition in Proverbs 16:18 is absolutely true. I have tripped over my pride many times throughout life and fallen face first on the ground. It is preferable to work at keeping a humble heart than take a humbling fall from the high place of pride. As with so many worthy aspirations, humility has to be worked for, because pride is the default human nature.
“But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.“
God loves a humble heart. A humble heart is a teachable heart. A malleable and changeable heart is necessary to grow spiritually and in faith. God is constantly sending or allowing events into the lives of His children to draw them closer to Him. Closeness to the Father is needed to serve Him in a meaningful way. More than anything, I desire a true servant’s heart. Daily, I battle my own inborn pride in an effort to be of use to God and to those he sends across my path.
Having a humble heart helps inspire obedience to God the Father. Understanding that He is omniscient and wiser than humans helps accomplish obedience. He knows the right and perfect path for each person. In order to be obedient there must be trust in His wisdom and goodness. Obedience brings blessings and peace. In 2 Chronicle 7:14 God says, “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” What a promise! Becoming humble before God is a necessary part of an intimate relationship with Him. God has not changed from the time of the Israelites. He is still approachable. He will still respond to a humble heart. He will still forgive sins and heal lives
Allowing humility before others is not an easy task. Humility goes against the fleshly human nature. Our society perversely teaches from childhood that pride in self and accomplishments is desirable. Having pride in a name, a gender, a nationality, or intelligence is the norm in the world today. Pause and remember that nothing is random. Everything about humanity is intentional. God made all with intent to serve Him. No “accomplishment” is achieved completely within human control. God is the source of identity, gifts, talents, and even the value of all His children.
I come before You as a being a little lower than the angels. Nothing about me, in or of myself, is worthy of pride. Everything I have and everything I am is because You created me exactly the way You want me. Help me, Lord to humble myself before You and my fellow human beings. Help me to serve in the way You think best. Help me to serve others according to Your will. Remove any leftover bits of pride from my heart, Lord, that I might be useful to You.
Karen Butler Ogle