Today in my history textbook I was reading about the rise of a prominent leader. I don't know much about his early years, but he had a dream. He grew up with a desire to be an artist. Unfortunately for him, his drawing skills were greatly lacking. He wasn't good at drawing at all. Thus, his dream died, and his life took a radical change for the worse.
His name was Adolf Hitler.
We know the rest of the story. We know how Hitler came into power and the devastation he caused. We read about the horrors he heedlessly created. It's not difficult to see the evil in his heart and actions.
As I learned a little bit more about his early life, I wondered. What was it that turned Hitler around? What made him change into a wicked leader?
Think about other infamous people throughout history. People like Hitler, Stalin, or Lenin. Or maybe villains from the Bible like Jezebel, Judas, or Herod. As I was reading the pages of history, I noticed that every single one had something in common.
These people, known for their evil deeds and wicked schemes, all struggled with a similar issue. It's even one that you and I struggle with today.
Unheeded, dangerous pride.
I'm not talking about taking pride in your country or your family. This pride goes much deeper. It's a matter of the heart, a monster that overtakes your life. The lingering thought that whispers "All that matters is that I'm happy." The "me" mentality we have that causes us to focus on ourselves.
Hitler was proud and wanted more power. He ended up killing millions of Jews.
Jezebel was proud, wanting herself to be promoted and well-known. She led her nation into idolatry.
Judas was proud and wanted to gain money. He ended up sacrificing a close friendship with Jesus as a traitor and giving Him up to be crucified.
Many of us are proud. We want to live comfortable, happy lives. We want religion as long as it brings us joy and fulfillment. Jesus is only there to bring us eternal life, right?
Sorry to throw you off, but you picked the wrong "religion". Throughout history, believers have been mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two...the list goes on and on. (see Hebrews 11:36-38)
Nevertheless, we still struggle with this mess called pride. It ensnares us, and we often don't even realize it. It's like a trap waiting to be triggered...and we don't see it hiding in the leaves only feet ahead of us.
Pride is the act of elevating our own self. It is telling God that we deserve more time and attention than He does, and He can sit around until we need Him. It is seeking our own will instead of His, thinking that we are simply more important than He is.
The Bible says pride goes before destruction (see Proverbs 16:18). It says that pride is evil and defiles a man (see Mark 7:20-23). God resists the proud (see James 4:6), and the proud is an abomination to Him (see Proverbs 16:5). The list goes on and on.
Recently I have been focusing on two different aspects of the Christian life - abiding in Christ (focusing on Him throughout the day and building my entire life on Him) and making Godly decisions. How does pride affect these areas?
If we have pride in our lives what will be thinking about? Who will we be living for? We most definitely will not be abiding in Christ! We will be focusing on our own desires, plans, and dreams. In the end, Christianity will likely become a "side job" or an activity that we participate in for what it brings us.
To make Godly decisions, we need to be asking God what His plans are for us. But if we are full of pride and self-seeking, we will only see what we want and what our plans are. It is impossible to make Godly decisions if we have pride in our hearts.
It's not hard to see that pride is dangerous. It's consuming, devastating, ruining. It takes a life and twists it into an ugly picture of evil.
On a more personal level, pride makes us feel lofty and above those around us. It causes us to not want to associate with certain individuals. It makes us desire attention and admiration. Simply put, pride takes Jesus off the throne of our heart and puts self in His place.
The villains throughout history all lived under the rule of pride. Do we struggle with the same problem?
I challenge you to take this matter before Christ and examine your life. Do you truly love others more than yourself? Do you love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind? Can you willingly say, "He must increase, but I must decrease"?
As Jesus humbled Himself and washed His disciples' feet, may we also humble ourselves and serve, love, and respect those around us. May we be willing vessels to do the will of the Lord.
It's so hard - even impossible in our strength! But isn't that why we don't have to live life on our own?
What is one way that pride sneaks into our lives unnoticed? How can we fight this evil tendency to think of ourselves more than others? Comment below!