We know that humility is important in the Bible; even more important than doing anything extraordinary for God. Humility is a major part of salvation itself, for example realizing that one is NOT GOOD apart from Christ’s light and forgiveness. In the following parable, we have a Pharisee who lives a life according to the highest standards of his religion. The other man is a tax collector. Back then tax collectors were known to keep much of the collected income for themselves. These were even less popular than IRS/CRA agents of today. Although he had lived a corrupt life, this man understood his need for forgiveness and the need to change:
Luke 18:9-14 “9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have often struggled with falling back into pride after being delivered. Going through the cycle of: pride>>fall (time of hardship)>>repentance>>restoration (easy times)>>then back to pride. But it’s even more dangerous if you never experience a fall or hardships because this leads to the bastard spirit, not having the trials of a son of God but being allowed to continue in the error unchecked. In my own battles with pride, I’ve noticed several points and recurring trends. One of them is that a person cannot see most of their own pride, it is the invisible sin. This goes hand-in-hand with excuses. When the Holy Spirit prompts your mind that your thoughts or behaviour is trespassing into pride, it’s easy to brush it off with an excuse: “I’m just being realistic because I’m a talented/intelligent person.” Or, “I might have some pride, but its not a big deal.” It’s easy to pop off an excuse and belittle pride as a minor deal. The problem is, pride is not just a sin, it is an ABOMINATION. Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;” It’s important to make a firm commitment to stand against pride rather than try to justify an air of extra importance.
Pride is the first sin that was committed in heaven, when Lucifer began imagining what it would be like to receive the angels’ worship for himself rather than leading them in worship to God. Up on the stage leading worship he could pretend in his mind that they were worshipping him. Soon these thoughts turned to actions as Lucifer began trying to turn the crowd’s focus on himself, distracting the from worship and trying to be the star of the show. This is why rockstars tend to have very satanic imagery; heaven’s fallen worship leader is more than happy to create a covenant with them to lead crowds of people away from God. (Of note, worship leaders must be on guard against being infiltrated by Lucifer’s spirit. I have often noticed certain worship leaders always feel the need to interrupt in-between each song and give commentary or messages to the people, constantly interrupting. This is Lucifer’s spirit at work, trying to break the flow of worship, turning the attention of the crowd away from God and onto the leader. The time to give messages is in testimony time, not interrupting in between each song).
Although he is commonly known for being a worship leader who acted more like a rockstar, this was not actually Lucifer’s main job in heaven. More likely his hobby. Lucifer was really a trader. The fact that the devil was a trader is not commonly taught, but the Bible clearly mentions it:
Ezekiel 28:16, “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.”
:18 “You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading;”
Working as a trader allowed him to be his own boss and not have to serve anyone like all of the other angels or be accountable to anyone else. Thus, there was no check to his ego. Scripture does not specify exactly what was traded in heaven's kingdom; it is unlikely that they had stocks or cryptos. Through the ages people have always had something of value to trade however, and it appears the opportunity to make crooked deals or exploitations was also present in this pre-fall heavenly kingdom. This is also a reason why the “love of money is the root of all evil.” It seems Lucifer did not want to offer any of his trading profits to God or share his accumulated possessions with lesser angels, using them instead to increase his personal fame and grandeur. Because trading and finances were Lucifer’s domain, this is also why Judas sinned of the 12 disciples. Judas was the financier. He was targeted directly by Satan because of his role in managing Jesus’s finances, which is the domain Satan feels entitled to control, due to it being his job in heaven. Finances are closely related to pride, ego, and display of status and are a major cause of personal falls and scandals. Finances are the 2nd most common theme Jesus spoke about in the parables, after the kingdom of heaven.
A prideful person tends to always come late and never early. When you are the center of your world you only consider the value of your own time and not that of others. In most cultures workers, servants, or slaves show up on time or early, while a higher status person or royalty will usually arrive late. Servants cannot be late or they won’t have a job for long. When people show up early there is time to socialize and build relationships while waiting. Coming to church late or right on the dot means shows a lesser value for others or relationships and more importantly a low value for God. Same goes for any appointment; coming late disrespects the other person’s time. Being only 6 minutes late for a meeting with 20 people is the equivalent of 2 hours of total wasted time when they have to delay starting it. Being early is not wasted time; there is always something to do or browse while waiting, especially with everyone having phones.
Our world is becoming very polarized due to social media. Politicians are more than happy to turn average joe’s into fanatics, believing that everything the other side does is wrong. Usually people will follow news sources that already agree with their opinions, but this only reinforces a person’s bias. Youtube’s algorithm is also notorious for this and feeds people with videos based on their previous watches. That means if you watch left-wing videos, they will show you more far left videos; meanwhile the conservative is shown more conservative news based on his views. Neither side gets any exposure to alternate viewpoints and as a result can be very dogmatic with an inflated sense of righteousness, believing that their team has done everything right and the “other guys” are responsible for society’s evils. This leads to what I call the “inbred mind.” People are supposed to marry and reproduce outside of their family, or what you can call “comfort zone.” Failure to do this leads to offspring with mental retardation. Likewise, when you never go outside your close circle of knowledge to explore alternate ideas or viewpoints, it leads to a mental dimness as well, an “inbred mind.” Humility is realizing you are probably wrong on plenty of things and being willing to give a fair case to others’ views, rather than having a fixed mindset. The Pharisees in the Bible had their mind set on a political saviour who would come and defeat the Romans and expand Israel’s territory. They thought they had the Bible prophecies all figured out and would not tolerate any opposing view. When Christ came with a spiritual kingdom, they were unwilling to re-examine their views, leading to them opposing the Messiah. They could not accept that the Messiah would come in two stages and only in the second stage establish a political rule (Millennial kingdom). Let’s be humbly open to the possibility of being wrong.
Work and education
Many jobs in the world are such that “somebody has to do it.” It seems that today’s culture worships education above all and working in a blue-collar job is seen as a failure. This mindset has pushed a sea of young people into university education, for better or worse. The fact is, there are not even close to enough prestigious jobs in the world to satisfy everyone who passes their degree. Many people choose a degree in what interests them, despite the possibility that there are few jobs available in the field. I have seen PhD’s pushing wood boards hand to hand with basic high-school graduates (the difference is the PhD is loaded with a mountain of student debt). On the other hand, there is often no shortage of demand for skilled trades, but the supply of entrants is lower due to the stigma of it being more hand-on and not requiring a university education. Make sure if you go for a degree that it is both what you are passionate about as well as one that has a realistic chance at landing a job, and that getting a university degree is not just for the pride of it. The path has backfired for so many. Jesus was a carpenter (or stonemason). He was highly intelligent and able to debate with the foremost religious leaders from a young age, yet he still did not see himself as being above working at a basic blue-collar type job. Doing the lowest job possible can be a way to defeat pride. Leaders with a focus on staying humble will often help do some ordinary grunt work as a way of staying humble. The spirit of pride can’t handle things like cleaning toilets (In India, only the very lowest class, the “untouchables” are willing to do this job). Christ showed this example as a leader by washing the feet of his 12 followers. In those days everything was done by walking and people's feet were filthy; washing a person's feet was considered quite demeaning work. Christ showed how a leader with a large following can help avoid letting the success get to their head by participating in low-level servanthood actitivies usually not associated with leadership. This helps break the demon of pride.
The value of success is naturally given a very high weighting in our world, often taught from a young age. Getting so focused on success can lead us to forget passages such as:
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, [d]and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:35-36).
An overly success-based mindset can cause a person to use it as the standard to judge others with and look down on those who didn’t make it to your same level. It also causes fear of experiencing any kind of decrease. Books and movies often have the goal of the main character as trying to make it to some special level of success or heroism. When we constantly absorb these values from the world, it causes a loss of respect for the ordinary acts of service we can do for Christ or others. In the parable of the good Samaritan, the high-status members of society, the priest and Levite, walked past the wounded man without helping. What was going through their mind? “My time is too valuable to help the man and it will be more efficient for me to get to my destination to teach people and to copy scrolls. Someone unskilled and unimportant whose time is less valuable should be the one to help.” When personal success is foremost in a person’s mind, it blocks the ability to feel love and compassion to others. Pride-based values are an especial danger to men. Worshipping power, strength, and monetary success. Six-figure income, six-foot height, six-pack body; 666 the perfection of man without God. Man’s values are abomination to God. How much of this foolishness can we carry with us upon death? All of this fleshly human kingdom is left behind and only the tarnished self-centered soul remains to go before judgement, facing the God he hid from and ignored while chasing this passing world. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
To wrap up, we’ve looked at the danger of pride, how it is an invisible sin, and many of the ways it manifests in our daily life. I am finding new hidden prides in my own life all the time. What matters in the end though, is not reading and learning about humility but doing it.
“For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” (Romans 2:13)
Many years ago I preached a sermon on humility, while being extremely prideful at the time. My problem was having an intellectual understanding of humility and knowing the verses on the danger of pride, but I had never made a commitment to put any of it into practice. At the end of the day what matters is not what you learned mentally, but how much of it you are able to incorporate in your daily life and change. Hopefully you can avoid the mistake I made of thinking you conquered pride, only to fall right back into it due to a casual attitude without real commitment to make actual changes.