Reading Ezekiel 30 the other day, I was struck by these two verses regarding Egypt:
vs 6a – “Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, and the pride of her power shall come down.”
vs. 18b – “And her arrogant strength shall cease in her; as for her, a cloud shall cover her.”
While I recommend reading the entire chapter for context, two words in these two specific verses jumped out at me, pride and arrogant. A simple word study leads you realize that they are actually both the same word in the Hebrew, gaon* meaning “exaltation“. Egypt exalted her own power and strength over all else. It caused her to sin. It caused her to become exceedingly evil so much so that in chapter 29 verse 3 of Ezekiel pharaoh is referred to as a “great monster”. And ultimately it was her pride and arrogance that also led to her destruction.
Just six books before Ezekiel you’ll find the book of Proverbs. A book full of well known wisdom and guidance, and some of the most oft quoted scriptures of all can be found in chapter 16 verses 18 and 19, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Pride . . . once again the exact same word is used, gaon. Once again we’re warned against self exaltation. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “How often do we blame everything but the right thing for our falls? How often do we seek to blame those around us . . . do we give satan credit where it absolutely is not due. . . do we cast responsibility on anyone and everyone else . . . when in actuality we should be blaming our problems and our falls on our own pride and arrogance?”
Pride is such an insidious sin. It’s not always front and center. It sneaks its way into our hearts. It often presents as moral outrage and masks itself as false humility. Too often we use the guise of righteousness to justify arrogance, pride, haughtiness, and downright meanness. And the problem isn’t with our morals. I will stand on biblical principals and morals until my last breath. The problem is in our hearts. It’s a haughty and arrogant spirit, and I believe that all too often that spirit, that attitude, is our downfall.
I am convinced that God is far more concerned with the character of our hearts than with seeing our earthly plans come to fruition. That’s not to say He doesn’t want good for us or have good plans for us. He absolutely does (Jeremiah 29:11), but ultimately everything we do is supposed to be for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.
Make no mistake, I’m not throwing any stones here. When I say “we” I completely mean me. I keep returning back to Proverbs 16:19, “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Humble and lowly are hard. And I think we often confuse humble with compromising. Humble in no way equates compromising. But it does mean that we’re steadfast, not only in our beliefs but also in our love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. It means that we daily walk out Galatians 5:22-23, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. It means that we take no pleasure in the hurt and fall of others and want what is good and right for them. It means that we look at others through the eyes of Jesus and seek to love as He loves. And love, true, agape, Christlike love is never rooted in pride.
I don’t think there are any words that better express this than the following, and I believe that they should serve as our guide for not only our outward actions but our inward thoughts:
“Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rude, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
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