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"Unpopular" Promises Regarding Pride and Humility

By Bob Hoekstra

      Whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
      In returning to our category of "unpopular" promises, we now consider a pair that contrasts pride and humility. Basically, these promises guarantee grievous results for those who chose the path of pride, while assuring abundant blessings for those willing to walk in humility. In a proud world (and, too often, proud church world), these promises are definitely "unpopular."

      The way of the world is self-exaltation. Babylon is an example of this truth. Babylon was one of the mightiest kingdoms of ancient history. God would allow them to rise to worldwide power. He would even use them to chastise His own rebellious people, Israel. Yet, the Lord warned them of the end to which their pride would lead them. "I was angry with My people; I have . . . given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy . . . you . . . who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me' . . . Therefore evil shall come upon you . . . And trouble shall fall upon you . . . And desolation shall come upon you suddenly" (Isaiah 47:6, 8, 11). Even mighty Babylon could not prevent this promised end. "Whoever exalts himself will be abased." If kingdoms powerful enough to dominate their era could not negate this promise, how much less can any individual person (whether in the world or the church world) avoid this sober end for all who walk in pride?

      Many of those who would scoff at this warning against pride, also disdain its corollary: "he who humbles himself will be exalted." Many religious and irreligious people alike hate to accept that humility is God's path of promised blessing. To them, humility is weakness and foolishness. They are convinced that self-confidence and self-assertion will gain whatever is desired. They refuse to accept that humility will lead to blessing. Nevertheless, humility is what pleases the Lord. David, a man of great intimacy with God, understood this truth. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). God delights in those who come before Him admitting the greatness of their need. God is not looking for "mighty Babylons." He is looking for humble and broken hearts. Jesus clearly taught such truth. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven . . . Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3, 5).

      Dear Lord Jesus, I do not want to walk the proud path to destruction that mighty Babylon took. I yield to Your promise against pride. My heart is broken and crushed, as I think of my sins and failures. I come to You in humility, throwing myself upon Your great promise of mercy and grace, in Your wonderful name, Amen.

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