In Greek mythology, there is the story of Icarus whose father was a master craftsman, the builder of the labyrinth. The plan was hatched that they would escape from Crete by making wings using wax and feathers. His father warned him about being too complacent and hubris (pride). He asked him not to fly too low or the water from the ocean will clog the wings and or too high as the heat from the sun will melt the wax that holds the wings together. Of course, Icarus disobeyed and flew too high to the sun, which of course melted the wax and he tumbled into the ocean and drowned.
Greek mythology tells us that the gods did not appreciate mortals acting like them or as one source stated having: “presumption towards the gods” hence one of the original meanings of hubris.
Iracus did not heed his father’s instruction and paid a high price for it. Pride in the life of the believer puts self above all else. This spirit will, like that of Iracus, will lead to a fall.
While we don’t get our instruction from mythology there are many lessons that can be learned from it like we do with the many examples we see in everyday life, we learn from these examples as we seek to live right before God and men.
The Latin word for humility is humilitatem it means lowliness or insignificance. In other words, humility is the opposite of arrogance or high-mindedness, self-centeredness, etc; pride, on the other hand, tends to foster a spirit of superbia that is haughtiness a self-exaltation. This is an excessive focus on, me, myself, and I. One with pride also has a superior air about them and tends to look down on others with a critical spirit.
The word pride is mentioned numerous times throughout the word of God and with what I believe to be the salient text found in 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Adam Clarke in commenting on this text says that the “pride of life” – “Hunting after honors, titles, and pedigrees; boasting of ancestry, family connections, great offices, honorable acquaintance, and the like.”
From a biblical perspective, pride is not something the Lord God takes pleasure in and the text also links it to this world, a world we are warned not to be conformed to. Ironically enough there is a movement today that has its boast and glory in pride; the Bible rightly states that PRIDE goeth before destruction. In mythology Icarus got too confident in himself, ignoring his father’s instructions and fell. Certainly, the same principle applies to the people of God, regarding his instructions from the BOOK and its application to our lives. Many good men and women have fallen into sin and from ministry because of a failure to heed God’s words.
“When the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the” curse, of hell.” – Andrew Murray
And while we understand the universal nature and various nuances of pride (pride in one’s work for example) and its effects, our focus should be on what God says about it and its effects on our life and ministry for Christ.
If God is against it shouldn’t we? If pride led to the fall of Satan and many other biblical characters how concerned should we be about pride in our lives? Nothing will bring a ministry to a screeching halt quicker than pride and if you want your walk with Christ to grow stagnant then allow pride to take root. I’ve been in the ministry long enough to see the ruin that comes to men, women, and ministries when this is left unchecked. I believe a healthy self-examination in this department is always in good order.
As we read through the Holy Writ we see countless examples of the fallout because of pride. Adam and Eve, Pharaoh, Absalom, many of the kings and of course Satan to name a few.
Shakespeare said this:
“He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.”
While we understand the sting of pride and its fruit, an over-emphasis on humility can be equally as dangerous. An overemphasis on one’s own humility can lead to a spirit of arrogance. As I was writing this the parable of the publican and pharisee comes to mind. What pride he took in himself and his ways. He may as well have said, Hey, look how humble I am! A little humble brag will lead to humble pride. Spiritual pride, on either end of the spectrum, can lead to a haughty spirit, an air of supremacy over those that they consider less than them and a rift with God.
Dealing with pride begins with an honest SELF-examination and then confessing it before God. We are told in scripture to be Christ-like and so the question that should follow is, what is he like? Christ is our measure, not our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul’s words are apropos here, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?! But by the grace of God…
Keep in mind what the Bible says about the heart. The scripture states that we should keep the heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life. Guard what goes into your heart, keeping things that go into it pure and right and what will flow from it will likewise be pure and right keeping pride in check. With all diligence, the sin of pride is insidious and like water which finds the easiest route, will find its way into the heart of the believer.
Well done for now folks. As they say in Latin – In die enim bona