Once there was a church very proud of their history, their building, their town, just busting at the seams with pride! They held extravagant events with gorgeous displays and set up big fundraisers that were the talk of the town. One Sunday morning, missions speakers came to share about their mission and bring the message that beautiful day. The pastor's family was able to sit together for a rare moment. Worn from the battles that raged within the walls of the church, they listened to a message about humility. How timely, the pastor thought. it was a message only an outsider could share. The mission speaker's wife played a beautiful rendition of "Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord". Something very odd caught the pastor's attention- undertones of "humble", "humble", humble". He couldn't believe his ears, so he closed his eyes and listened closely to find out if he was "hearing things". Nope! The bass notes were the cause of the "humble" undertones. God had a message for that church. You see, they are now a relic of the past. The once great church, a pinnacle of the community had to shut it's doors with a handful of godly saints and a young pastor and his wife. This tiny band tried valiantly to resurrect their church to it's former glory. Too many hurtful volleys of words, too many saints jerking for control, too many prideful moments took it's life. It was too late for the small band to turn it around when they realized what had taken place. But at the closing ceremony, these loving pillars of the church had grown immensely in their faith. The true Church had been built up when the building was destroyed. Pride killed them, but Jesus lifted them up.*see note
Pride is an insidious serpent which lurks in the hearts of people. Take for example King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. God used King Nebuchadnezzar to judge Judah by taking them captive. He was a fierce ruler other countries feared. He built a great city, a mighty country to behold. Unfortunately for him, he knew it all too well. the King had a disturbing dream. His not-so-wise wise men couldn't interpret the dream for him. Finally, he called Daniel, a prophet of Judah, to come before him to interpret the dream. There was something about Daniel he realized was different- the spirit of God was with him (he said, "the spirit of the holy gods is in him"). As Daniel interpreted the King's dream, great fear crept over him. The King, who had come to know Daniel reasonably well, could see he was troubled and urged him to say what was on his mind. To keep a long story short, he was told that he would be humbled, made crazy for 7 years,eat grass, and wander around like an animal, naked. The interpretation described exactly what the King would actually say the very next year. "Look at what I have done!" Then it happened!He was busting at the seams with pride. But Pride cost him.
The King was humbled to the point of looking up to heaven to acknowledge God as all powerful Sovereign over everything- including him. He was then restored to his throne (v.v.34-37). Sadly, the King's son committed the same sin, never acknowledging God's sovereignty. He took the goblets his dad took from the temple in Jerusalem and had the audacity to drink from them with his friends at a party. Not only did he not acknowledge God, he desecrated the articles from the temple set aside for His use. Daniel was brought in to interpret the writing that suddenly appeared on the wall of the banquet hall. Daniel, a big contrast to the king's son, went on to tell him about the judgement of humility placed on his father, which he evidently ignored. He was told flatly he never humbled himself even though he knew of his father's 7 years of insanity; therefore, he would be deposed. That night King Darius' army overthrew Babylon and killed him. Pride's a killer!
Yes, pride kills like a python squeezing the life out of it's prey. Satan in all his craftiness leads people to believe not only that they could be like God, but better than God. It is at the pinnacle of pride the fall comes (Proverbs 16:18, 11:2), but restoration comes with humility.
God wants us to walk in a healthy relationship with Him. This requires remembering who He is in relationship with to who we really are. It goes even further to include recognizing others as someone God loves as well (Mark 12:30-31). We can never outdo God. There will always be someone God has made smarter, faster wiser, more beautiful, or more gifted than we are. Sometimes God humbles us before He calls us to serve Him because we are unusable if we remain in our pride. Other times He humbles us in the midst of what we do for Him, like King Nebuchadnezzar. Yet others He allows to be swallowed up by their pride until they are totally consumed by it, reaping it's consequences. Far better to realize early and repent, than later and perish. Take the time to acknowledge the greatness of God and the value He has placed with others today. Always walk humbly with the Lord, then He will lift you up (James 4:10). What a joy it will be for us when every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ, is Lord, to the glory of God (Philippians 2:10-12). That's howyou slay the serpent!
May God bless you!
*Note: This illustration is a composite of churches. Some of the details were changed to allow the people of these churches their privacy.