Jose Cubero! Jose Cubero!
One of Spain’s most brilliant bullfighters. 21 years old.
Enjoying a spectacular career.
At the end of one long match he thrust his sword one final time
into the bleeding, delirious bull which then collapsed.
Jose was relieved the struggle was over and turned and bowed to the roaring
Just one problem – the bull was not dead. While Jose was waving to the
crowd, that bull got up on his feet and lunged at Jose’s back puncturing his heart
with his horn.
Jose’s brilliant, spectacular career and his life ended that day. A gory story.
Why do I share it?
Well, imagine that you are Jose. Imagine that that bull is pride.
Start to get the picture? Pride is a tough problem for all of us,
particularly Christian leaders.
It takes effort and determination to fight it. The battle will last all your life.
It is a battle you must take seriously. Unfortunately, predictably, after some
victories over pride we might think our battle is over and let down our guard.
Surprise! That is the time it comes at us inflicting severe injury.
Why are we looking at pride? Pride is the biggest enemy we face
if we are serious about growing as a Christian. Pride says you know it all,
have it all together, don’t need to hear sermons, don’t need Bible studies,
don’t need constructive criticism, don’t need anything. Pride means you are
unteachable and reject any nudging of the Holy Spirit. You have arrived.
The truth is pride will not be dead in your life until you are.
For good reason it has been called the monster of the Christian life.
So it is the right topic for us to focus on, and it should not surprise us that we’ll
be spending a lot of time in Proverbs.
In OT times Proverbs was used to help young men become great leaders,
and one hurdle all young men face on the road to becoming great leaders
is pride so Proverbs confronts it head on.
When you drive through a construction zone warning signs are in your face
everywhere to help you arrive safely at your destination. Proverbs is a spiritual
construction zone trying to build God honoring lives, so no surprise that there are
in your face bold serious warning signs everywhere about pride. We need to look
The truth is we need all the help we can get in battling pride so let’s ask for it.
Every single person knows what pride is.
Every person has been damaged by it.
Every person needs your help in battling it.
All of us.
We come before you as needy people
desperately seeking your help to fight the pride monster in our lives.
Please free us from every distraction that would keep us focusing right now.
Help us to push aside our to-do list and our worry list.
Make this study count for you,
and it’s in your name we pray,
As we start let’s remember pride has been a human problem since Genesis.
Genesis is the book of beginnings so it is not a surprise it includes the beginning of
man messing up because of pride.
And maybe the most glaring example is Genesis 11:1-4
Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east,
that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they
3 Then they said to one another,
“Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.”
They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city,
and a tower whose top is in the heavens;
let us make a name for ourselves,
lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole
We are great! Let’s honor ourselves by building a tower that will reach to the
skies! We are bigger than life!
This is a declaration of independence – from God. This is a declaration of pride in
And what does God do about it?
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one
and they all have one language,
and this is what they begin to do;
now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.
7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not
understand one another’s speech.”
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there
over the face of all the earth,
and they ceased building the city.
9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there
the Lord confused the language of all the earth;
and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the
face of all the earth.
God’s response to prideful ambition is always the same.
What started out with such high twisted expectations ends in chaos.
A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
“The proud will be brought low” means being forced to bend before God in
shame. The moral of the story is if you exalt yourself you will be brought down.
If you humble yourself you will be lifted up.
The Tower of Babel episode is early in the Bible as a warning to all men of all
generations of the ease with which man can be seduced by pride and the awful
But pride is such an easy temptation we need many warning signs to steer us
Warning sign #1 no pleasure ahead.
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
You go down the pride path; you will not find pleasure.
Here we have a person who has nominated himself for wisdom.
But there is no one around willing to second the nomination.
In his own eyes he is wise – not in the eyes of anyone else. That is pride.
Pride is the verdict of a lonely, out of touch ego utterly ignoring the opinions of
others. The proud person sings with glee, “Look at me! I am the greatest!”
And this proverb is telling us, “Yes, look at this guy. Take a good look.
Learn a lesson from him.”
He lives in an imaginary castle built by his own conceit. He thinks his future will
be pleasure. He is wrong. The prideful person’s future will be no paradise.
The prideful person’s future will be worse than a fool’s.
The prideful person is blinded by his own imagined greatness,
and that illusion must be shattered before he can turn to Christ.
The prideful person has two problems – ignorance and self-delusion.
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’
29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.
30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.
In Jesus’ day the chief priests were hostile to Him; they were in this second
category – they said they would do God’s will but never did. So when Jesus said
that tax collectors and harlots will get into heaven before these leaders, you
know they went through the roof.
Tax collectors had a reputation for cheating people. Tax collectors and harlots
were the low-lifes of society. But these chief priests were not only ignorant,
they were drenched in self-delusion. They reeked with pride. They thought they
knew their Bible cold. They strutted around with all their man-made traditions
and thought they were heaven’s gatekeepers. “Boy, do we have our spiritual lives
To these pompous chief priests those words must have stung terribly.
You can just see their eyes bulge. “Tax collectors and harlots are ahead of us in
heaven’s admission line? We think blessing and reward is our future,
but this no name guy from Galilee says otherwise?”
It is hard for proud people to be saved because they are dead wrong in their
understanding of themselves and dead set against any correction of that
Someone looked at this verse and wrote:
“Lord, preserve me from this hopeless delusion.
Pull down my pride and imagined wisdom.
Clothe me with humility from head to toe.”
Is that a prayer you need to pray? Are we building castles of pride that we need
God to tear down? If no one else thinks we are wise, maybe we ought to face
That is warning sign #1 pride means no pleasure head, only trouble.
Warning sign #2 no power ahead.
Recently a soccer team lost a game, and the angry fans tried to beat up the ref.
What is the root problem here? They were #1 – just ask them – and couldn’t
handle it when they lost. Hey, let’s not accept defeat graciously.
Let’s refuse to deal with our pride. There is the ref. Let’s beat him up!
Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
A proud person is powerless to predict the future. The key word is “boast”.
It doesn’t say don’t plan for tomorrow. It doesn’t say don’t save up money for
tomorrow. But it is nonsense to brag about what is not yours.
Remember Jesus’ parable:
16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.
17 And he thought within himself, saying,
‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’
18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns
and build greater, and there I will
store all my crops and my goods.
And I will say to my soul,
“Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years;
take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’
20 But God said to him, ‘Fool!
This night your soul will be required of you;
then whose will those things be which you have
Oh, how we wish we could know the future. We cannot.
When someone says I’ll wait until tomorrow to receive Jesus as my Savior
he is being prideful that he’ll even be alive tomorrow. He could be dead by
Someone has said that we’ll never feel more secure than to know we have no
man-made security for even an hour. If that is our attitude, we’ll be most likely to
lean constantly on the Lord – and that will surely keep us from trouble!.
Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
A prideful person has no power to evaluate.
One popular actress said she knows if she is wearing the right dress she holds
every man in sight in the palm of her hand. How’s that for dishing out praise for
yourself? Genuine praise is a wonderful garment to wear, just let someone else
put it on you.
John the Baptist thought he was unworthy even to unloose the thong of Jesus’
sandal. Jesus rewarded that humility by saying that among those born of
women there is no one greater than John. John the Baptist didn’t put on the
garment of praise. Jesus put it on for him.
One of the Roman centurions said that he was not worthy for Christ to come into
his home. Jesus responded that he hadn’t found so great a faith in all of Israel.
That centurion didn’t put on the garment of praise. Jesus put it on for him.
We stand far too close to ourselves to see our strengths or weaknesses.
Sound evaluation and real praise can only come from others.
For months I was working on a project that was frustrating. I prayed for help and
prayed for help. After much sweat and time finally it came together and what was
my instant response? “Wow, did I do a great job”. Dishing out praise to myself.
How fast the pride monster surfaces!
Maybe I’m not the only one who has been dressing himself in pride.
That’s warning #2
I am powerless – to predict the future and evaluate myself.
But there are more warning signs:
Warning sign #3 no prestige ahead.
A proud and haughty man— “Scoffer” is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride.
Do you get what this verse is saying? A proud person thinks he really is
something. Well, he is. He is lower than he could possibly imagine.
In fact he is a scoffer which is the biggest put down in the Hebrew language.
The prestige a proud person claims for himself is exactly what he does not have.
And right away in the 21st century I think of celebrities. You can’t go far on the
Internet or on TV without hearing celebrity news. Who are these celebrities?
Besides having pretty faces have they ever done anything besides get married and
divorced as often as possible? It says something about the shallowness of our
world that we pay celebrities any attention at all.
Our society might actually worship proud people and treat them like heroes
and hang up some posters so we can worship them. But God is the one who labels
people correctly, and God’s stamp cannot be removed.
It was the pharaoh of Egypt who said
Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?
That pharaoh suffered horrendously for his pride. Talk about a loss of prestige!
Pride leaves the haughty with no prestige. All of the terms in this verse speak of
aggressive self-promotion. The very status that pride assumes for itself is that
which pride robs itself of. Put yourself on a pedestal, and that is exactly where
you will not stand long. And each of us could think of numerous examples.
And each of us can follow in those footsteps if we don’t take precaution.
Do our heroes really deserve to be heroes?
“The truth is we are all invalids in God’s hospital. In moral and spiritual terms we
are all sick and damaged,
diseased and deformed,
scarred and scored,
lame and lopsided
to a far greater extent than we realize.”
The proud do not have anything to be proud of because the pride path sure does
not lead to prestige.
In the course of working on a report for a church business meeting
I came across a decision that a deacon had made that was troubling.
The problem was he has been such an impressive believer for decades
I was hesitant to confront him – but the decision he made was so strange and
serious I couldn’t let it slide.
So I prayed and braced myself and brought up the problem, but before I had time
to hold my breath he responded that he was wrong….. which increased my
respect for him even more. He took ownership of his mistake immediately,
not blaming anyone else, not making any excuses. A proud person would have
been concerned about his loss of prestige and lied. Not him.
Pride does not lead to prestige. That’s warning #3
Warning sign #4 no protection ahead.
The Lord will destroy the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.
There is much concern where I live about gangs. This verse tell us God has those
proud gang members on his hit list right now. They are marked men and don’t
even know it.
The contrast in this verse is strong. And the contrast is deliberate and powerful.
Not only will the proud person be dealt with, so will his possessions.
The proud will find their entire estate wiped out. Because of their lofty claims of
worth, achievement and invulnerability, their arrogance means no protection.
Think how this verse applies to the arrogant world of today.
You and I can drive through the ritzy areas and almost get depressed at the
mansions, the high iron gates and the security systems.
This verse tells us we don’t need those. God is all the secret service protection the
widows and defenseless people need. And He is on duty 24 hours a day and is
By the way, I heard a godly father say recently if you want to lose your kids,
pretend you are perfect. Your kids know you are not and will be repulsed by your
denial. But if you are open with your kids about your weaknesses
you are being honest and real with them and they will be your most loyal
defenders- whereas the proud have no protection.
That is warning sign #4 no protection.
Warning sign #5 no parameters (boundaries) ahead.
A haughty look, a proud heart,
And the plowing of the wicked are sin.
That means pride cannot be contained in one part of our lives.
Pride gives us a haughty look, it corrupts our hearts, it warps our work. The point
being pride distorts the entire life of the proud person. Pride twists and distorts
the very best of actions and defiles every motive in the heart.
Are you starting to see how big a roadblock pride is to coming to faith in Christ?
Excuse me…. Don’t tell me I need a Savior. Me? What do I need to be saved
from? Do not insult me by saying that I am a sinner. I’ve got it all together and am
not in need of outside help.
Pride blinds. Pride binds.
Those are the warning signs that Proverbs puts in our way to show us
how dangerous the pride path is.
Having come this far it should not surprise you where the pride path leads.
Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
Abomination – the strongest Hebrew word for hatred.
Punishment. Certain punishment. Even though all the proud people work
together God will still take all of them down. Pride keeps the heart from God.
When pride strikes at God, should we be surprised God strikes back?
And God has a habit of striking at the object of which man is proud.
David glorified in the number of his people, so God eliminated many of the
people by disease. Hezekiah boasted of his treasure, so invaders took it away.
You can think of other examples.
The results of self-exaltation are disastrous. A total shattering of what a person
has and what he is and a crashing down as from a cliff or high place.
Proverbs 16:5 God will personally see that no proud person goes unpunished.
We pay a high price when we walk down pride’s path in life.
Is it any wonder Jesus said, “Blessed are the humble”? That means the humble
are exceedingly happy. Humble path is the right one to be on.
1 Peter 5:5f
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Take a look at the end of :5. If nothing else we have looked at awakens you
to the peril of pride, this verse should. God resists the proud or is opposed to
the proud. Do you really want God as your opponent? What a terrifying
future that would be!
We are told here that grace is available only to the humble.
Would you want to even attempt to go through life without grace?
Life is tough enough as it is, and to attempt it with God against you
and no access to grace? I don’t think so.
When you refuse to confess sin, that is pride. Cover ups don’t work.
When you don’t want to listen to correction, that is pride.
When you think you can live the Christian life without the Bible, that is pride.
When you wear a smiley face mask and try to pretend you’ve got it all together,
that is pride.
When you think you’ve got it all together so you can do it on your own,
that is pride.
When you try to live your life without other believers, that is pride.
When you love to talk about yourself endlessly but are not willing to listen to
others, that is pride.
When you are always the hero of your own stories, that is pride.
When you think you don’t need to grow any more as a Christian, that is pride.
Ever been to a carnival? Often there is a game in which you are given a large
hammer and you hit one button and another one pops up. So you hit that button
and another one pops up. Know what I am talking about?
That is exactly what the future is for each one of us if we take pride seriously.
Pride pops up here in your life – bam. Hit it hard. Pride pops up there – bam. Hit
it hard. Pride pops up over there – bam. Hit it hard. Pride is the monster you will
battle until you die.
Welcome to your future.
Hopefully, this look at pride will motivate us to:
Pray daily to walk in humility.
Pray daily for your spiritual leaders to walk the humble path.
Memorize verses on pride and humility.
Declare all out war on pride.
Follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist:
He must increase, I must decrease.
(David Hubbard’s “Proverbs” inspired much of this article.)