Proverbs 26 (11.27.21)
Repeatedly in Proverbs 26, Solomon speaks of the foolishness and folly of pride and one who thinks he is right in his own eyes. For example:
Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 26:16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.
We must understand that pride (including being wise in one’s own eyes) is opposed to God. This is because pride and self-wisdom are lack of righteous humility before the one true God. Pride and self-wisdom cause man to believe he is more important than he is or wiser than he is. In pride and self-wisdom, created man attempts to belittle others, and more importantly, dishonor, reject, and downplay the one true God.
Considering the very first days of creation, we learn in Scripture that pride distorted and ruined what God made as “good.” Pride was the sin that damned certain angels, who in pride became demons. Then, pride was the chosen weapon (sin temptation) of Satan in mankind’s demise in the garden—pride was and is the core of our folly! It is pride that caused Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in their desire to be like God.
Because of those roots of pride, ever since the fall in Eden, pride has been a central demise of mankind.
We live in a demonically-inspired culture that wants to make you and me the center of the universe, wants to make your glory the ultimate goal of your existence, and wants you to think that everyone should bow down and realize how amazing you are. Worse than that, we live in fallen bodies with fallen minds that, apart from God’s sanctifying work, want all those things. The temptations of pride are significant, and God hates pride in His created. We have already read in Proverbs 6:16-17 that a proud look is an abomination to the Lord, in Proverbs 15:25 that God promises to destroy the house of the proud, and in Proverbs 21:4 that a “haughty look and a proud heart … are sin.”
James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud.” Think about that! To be proud—to be wise in your own eyes—is to be opposed to the perfect and good God. The Bible also says that God gives grace to the humble. We don’t need pride; we need grace!
Paul has a strong warning for us in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
“Do nothing” is a strong statement! Selfish ambition is the pursuit of activity or achieving something for oneself with sinful motives. These are the things we do, dream about, and long for that are for our own glory—not the glory of God, according to His design.
This is an endless maze that deteriorates at life. Why? When selfish ambition rules our lives, the goal of filling our own cup never ends because that pursuit is outside of God’s design; it will never satisfy, it can never satisfy. There is always something missing or something to improve or have more of.
Vein conceit is empty glory! Empty glory is a craving be honored—the need to be lifted up—to be right.
It is a form of “secular” self-esteem. This is a frame of mind that causes us to think we are always right and no one else gets us or understands. Solomon calls this foolish because it is a false reality. It is also highly problematic because in it we are all too quick to avoid or ignore good, godly counsel.
Instead of giving into these prideful temptations, we need to be humble and consider others more important than ourselves. And that only truly happens when we are in Christ and following His earthly example.
Paul continues in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The truest example of living that way is seen in Christ’s life on this earth. We need to be settled in who we are in Christ and not constantly trying to insist on our own way or be above counsel; we must be willing to look to the truth of God and listen to others, not declaring in ourselves that we are right or worthy. We are desperate for the humility of Christ.
What is humility? For created man, it is the personal quality of putting off pride and having an accurate estimate of one’s worth, grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God as one of His creatures. Humility is a state of mind well pleasing to God of deference and submission, not being proud or haughty or arrogant. It is putting off self-wisdom and self-declarations and putting on God’s wisdom and true understanding.
See that a biblical worldview of humility is honestly assessing ourselves in the light of God’s holiness and truth. He is the standard. John Calvin wrote, “It is evident that one never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.”
So, how do we move from being me-centered to other-centered—from vain, selfish, and prideful to serving, loving, and humble? The answer is Jesus! Paul shows us this next. Look at Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
To kill the poison of pride and self-rightness, we have to embrace a life in Christian humility—and this is only possible if we are redeemed, healed, and redefined by JESUS!
We talked earlier about the popular, secular self-esteem that we run after in sin. Consider now, what can be called “gospel-esteem.” We only have this esteem IN Christ! The only way to look away from self so that you can truly live for God’s glory and look for the good of is to first look to JESUS!
The good news is Christ Jesus humbled Himself to put on flesh and walk among us, to be ridiculed by us, to be picked on and murdered. Because of His humility, He didn’t stand up and level them with His power. His mission was to FREE His chosen from among them with His humble sacrifice.
Jesus humbled Himself for the corporate executives and for the glamour queens. For the arrogant husbands and the vain wife. For those who use their bodies to be noticed and those who use their minds to make others feel dumb. For those who use money to buy power and those who use their skills to remind others they fall short. He did this for the rich young ruler and for the disciples who were always arguing who amongst them was the best. He did this for the Pharisees who walk tall in their showy robes and projected self-wisdom. He did this for the humiliated. The beat down. The poor. The forgotten. Jesus humbled himself for the chosen from all walks of life—who are desperate for God’s redeeming and sanctifying grace. Jesus humbled Himself to death so we could finally be humbled by God in the gift of life!
How can you and I be liberated from the dominating power of the world’s empty definitions of greatness? JESUS! How can you and I be liberated from pride in our own flesh? JESUS! How can you and I experience the lasting joy of being fully known and still fully loved? JESUS! How can you and I experience the satisfaction of Christ’s definition of who we are and no longer long after the world’s definitions that never leave us satisfied? JESUS!
Believers, everything that you and I stand to gain is because of what Jesus humbly earned. May we cling to Jesus and abide in Him daily. He is the prize—He is our only hope! And according to His sovereign plan, He will cause repentance in us, and He will increasingly change what is arrogant and prideful and self-defined into something humble and patient and defined in Christ.
By His grace and for His glory,
Pastor Joshua Kirstine