Two Sad Tales of Pride and the Danger for Christians
March 1, 2021
One Year Wisdom Challenge #8
Can you think of a time when your pride caused you to tumble? I’ve got skads of personal stories on that topic, which I’ve shared in previous posts. Oh my goodness, the times I’ve fallen on my face because of stupid pride… Today, let me share two tragic accounts from history to set the stage for what God placed on my heart. The first one took place during the Civil War. The second one took place more recently, off the coast of Russia.
During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet, over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought to duck while passing the parapet. “Nonsense,” snapped the general. “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist–.” A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded.
In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction–or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.
In the days of awakening that are almost upon us, there simply won’t be space for arrogance and pride in the body of Christ. We are on the cusp of a Great Awakening; unlike anything we have ever experienced. I believe it will be like it was for Noah’s family coming out of the ark into a drastically changed world. The challenges and need for wisdom and humility will be great.
Those of us who are still battling pride in our own lives will not be able to operate on the front lines of the kingdom to bring in the harvest of souls.
If we become prideful because God has given us more knowledge and understanding than others, we are in danger.
If we are arrogant because our church is more welcoming to a move of God than another church, we are in danger.
If we pride ourselves on being more sensitive and open to the Spirit than others, we are in danger.
That kind of pride will either keep us on the back lines fighting our own demons or it will set us up for a colossal fall in front of many on the front lines.
Consider these warnings from Solomon concerning pride.
“Before destruction, a man’s heart is haughty…” Proverbs 18:12 ESV.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18 ESV.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom,” Proverbs 11:2 ESV.
General John Sedgewick never imagined that is inability to consider the opinion of one of his officers, ultimately his pride, would be a death sentence.
The two ship captains never imagined that their arrogant, attitudes would end up with hundreds of dead in the icy waters of the Black Sea.
These three men are tragic cautionary tales of the above verses from Proverbs.
So often in the body of Christ, we are quick to point out and even ostracize people who are engaged in sexual immorality, moral failings or corruption of some sort. We need to remind ourselves that it wasn’t adultery, embezzlement or even murder that got Satan tossed out of heaven. It was pride. Pride. That awful sin that daily attempts to entwine itself somewhere in into our minds and hearts.
I’ve been prideful in the past. I refuse to be so in the future, but it won’t be easy. Pride can be a subtle thing. I’m asking God, this week, to show me places where it’s hiding out in my thinking, speech, and behavior. How about you? I want us to be ready to work alongside Christ in the days ahead. Will you let the Holy Spirit do a thorough housecleaning in your soul this week too?
Here’s some more verses for all of us to ponder as we tear down any prideful strongholds we may have erected unknowingly.
“Thus, says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord,” Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV.
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world,” 1 John 2:16 NIV.
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble,” James 4:6 NIV.