“Pride goes before a destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”Proverbs 16:18
Proverbs 16:18 is one of the best known sayings in the Book of Proverbs. Sometimes I fear that to assume to be able to unpack it reflects that same pride and haughtiness that the proverb decries! Yet here goes!
I’m reminded of the many big games Pittsburghers have “enjoyed” over the years. We’ve had our share of championships: Steelers, Pens, and even the Bucs, who in the early 90’s seemed invincible. Each year in those halcyon days the Lumber Company wreaked havoc on their division, only to fall short three years in a row in the “big game.” None more painful than in 1992 when the Braves beat the Bucs in the 9th. We were positive we were going to win. We were the best! I can still see Spanky Lavalliere lunge to tag out the lumbering Brave, a former Buc, Sid Bream, hurtling to the plate. Safe. We were numb. I recall the next day at a Cabinet meeting the entire Cabinet sat and stared at one another for over an hour. We were almost all in tears. Impossible. We were crushed. We were a sure thing. Oh yeah. And the team has never quite been the same.
Humility is tough. Our Lord, according to St. Paul, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.(Philippians 2:5-11) I remember telling a Sunday School class composed of fairly well off adults that God called us to be “humble servants.” One woman responded, “Dr. Harvey, I am not a servant. I have servants.” So much for humility. Paul in that same chapter of Philippians enjoins us who would follow Jesus to “have the same mind that you have in Christ Jesus.” To count others first. To take the least seat at the banquet. To sacrifice self. To pay what Bonhoffer called the “Cost of Discipleship.” Pride and a haughty spirit? No. “Pick up your cross and follow me” cried Jesus. So may it be.
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