The beginning of man's pride is to depart from the Lord; his heart has forsaken his Maker.
Ecclesiasticus 10:12

Sometimes we say to people “have pride in yourself.” This advice asks persons to stay away from people and things that might destroy their character and impact negatively on their lives.

The writer of Ecclesiasticus condemns the pride that gives us a false importance of ourselves which causes us to believe that we are better, greater, more important and more qualified than other people are. It promotes arrogance and makes us believe that we do not need God or others, we only need ourselves.

Hubris, the Greek word for pride, refers to exaggerated pride or self-confidence which ultimately leads to arrogance. It is destructive; we destroy ourselves and we destroy the lives of others.

Pride is a form of self-worship and self righteousness which prevents us from seeking God and giving him his due: The wicked are so proud that they care not for God; their only thought is, "God does not matter “(Psalm 10:4). The Bible also makes the interesting observation:” Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Pride in today’s reading is not about feeling good about yourself or your personal accomplishments; it is about the destruction that comes when we allow hubris -pride - to be the nexus on which our lives spin. It results oppression, injustice, misuse of power, violent behaviour and other negative behaviour.  Pride causes us to take advantage of people, to disregard their right, to treat them as things to be used and discarded. Pride in today’s text is about the abuse of power.

The writer makes special mention of rulers and nations who abuse their power, rulers and nations who do not use their power for the common good, but instead use it to create hardships, oppress people and make life difficult. The writer makes the salient point that God will destroy the proud.

At present the international community is concerned with the events in Syria; that situation has its genesis in human pride. Not only in Syria but wherever there is violence and civil unrest it can be traced to pride as people and nations try to prove their point believing that to compromise or to accept another opinion would cause them to lose face.

How does hubris affect our personal lives? What happens when we tell ourselves that we have all the answers, we are superior to others, better than others and more important than others? We treat people with disrespect; we refuse to take advice; we pursue our personal interests at the expense of others; we misuse our power. Pride destroys nations, families, relationships and the work environment. Hubris leads to arrogance, self conceit and self righteousness. In the Bible we have two good examples of pride in the stories of Adam and Eve and the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

The issue of domestic violence continues to raise its ugly head in our nation; within recent weeks we have witnessed the brutal murder of a number of women. These acts of violence are conditioned by pride; pride which makes it difficult to accept that a relationship has ended and we should move on; pride which informs us that we have control over people’s lives; pride which tells us that we must show our power by acting violently. Pride leads to violence.

Humility is the antidote for pride.  Humility helps us to recognise our dependence on God and makes us humble. Humility helps us to accept the value and worth of each person as one made in the image of God. The Bible invites us to be humble and assures us that God will bless the humble.

Let me close with a few passages from the Bible:

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.  (Proverbs 11:2)

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

“A man's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honour” (Proverbs 29:23)

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:7).

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).

“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and o love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6: 8).

Wayne E. Isaacs

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