Pastoral Letter 24 Oct 2021
My dear readers,
Pride – The Final Step before the Fall
Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
A man walks toward a cliff. His final step will plunge him into certain death. Yet he keeps walking, knowing that the moment he takes his final step, he plunges into the abyss. Only a fool will walk toward a cliff and take that final step! The final step before destruction is called pride! Man may not take that final step over the cliff in the literal sense, but millions have taken that final step in the figurative sense!
This is an often-repeated tale throughout the history of man. From the highest of high to the lowest of low, man will inevitably fall the moment he gains a little height. This height is in the mind. It is called the pride of life. “At the festival of Olympia, Diogenes, the cynic philosopher, saw some young men of Rhodes arrayed most magnificently. He exclaimed, ‘This is pride!’ He afterwards met with some Lacedaemonians in a mean and sordid dress; whereupon he said, ‘And this also is pride!’” [Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.] How true is the observation of Diogenes. The richest of men and the poorest are both plagued with the pride of life, the former by his wealth and the latter by his poverty.
The word “pride” comes from the root meaning of “one who mounts up.” He climbs above everyone in his life. He likes the view from up high. He looks down from the top like an eagle high in the sky! It is as if this is his only way to feel good about himself and not feel so small and insignificant. Pride is now called by a more contemporary name: “self-esteem.” Is there really anything in man that he is good at that he can really take pride in? Even though there is none, yet that has not stopped man from flaunting his pride! In ancient times, “The largest ancient structure ever made was the Colossus of Rhodes. The next largest was the statue of Bavaria, erected by Louis I, King of Bavaria. The Barthodi statue of liberty is also worthy of mention. It was Pygmalion who fell in love with a statue he had himself made. Of all the projects of Alexander the Great, none was more hare-brained than his proposal to have Mount Athos hewed into a statue of himself. It is said he even arranged with a sculptor to undertake the job.” [Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.]
Sinful man has not changed at all in showing off his greatness. Skyscrapers, multi-billion-dollar companies, man-centred foundations and great monuments are all present-day colossal “structures” to declare to the world how great man can become in this life. Man wants to be remembered. He wants the world to know that he lived and impacted the world in a very big way! But the Bible warns the sinful against such foolish thinking. What will follow is a swift and total ruination of lives, not only his own but of others as well.
The literal translation of Proverbs 16:18 is, “Before destruction is pride and before a ruin is an haughty spirit.” The emphasis is definitely on the “destruction” as the use of synonymous parallelism signifies. Lives have been ruined because of the pride of man. Pride is a monster that resides in all mankind. This monster knows no bounds. Enough is never enough for this monster. It feeds on the deliciously seductive praises and flatteries of man. The greater the number of men that adores him, the more this monster pride will swell like a gigantic ugly balloon.
Tens of millions adored Hitler, and hundreds of millions regarded Mao as their saviour and lord. All despots like them kill and send millions to their deaths in the pursuit of inflating their pride and ego. They behave like King Nebuchadnezzar who at the height of his reign and power, before he was humbled by the LORD God of Israel, boasted of his own murderous despotic accomplishments. Daniel 4:28-31: “All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.” [Emphasis added.]
Men of pride will boast of the same, some to a larger scale and others smaller. But the boasting remains the same whether it is of school work, or companies or self-accomplishments of any nature; the boasting continues unless they are humbled like Nebuchadnezzar by God.
Because of pride many have suffered its deadly impact. Salvation has been lost to an innumerable number of sinners who refused to humble themselves when they heard the gospel and chose to die in their sins. Through the ages many of God's servants have stumbled and fallen by the wayside near the end of their ministries because they allowed the pride of life to dominate, and they refused to repent when rebuked, and chose to end miserably, like king Uzziah who died a leper because of the sin of pride. 2 Chronicles 26:16-19: “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.”
Relationships have been torn asunder or stumbled badly because pride stood in the way of an apology between husbands and wives, best of friends, and brethren in Christ!
The warning from God is clear in 1 John 2:15-17: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The last and final step before a destruction of life or service is the pride of life. Let us remain humble always. To pray without ceasing is the best antidote against the sin of pride. To pray without ceasing is to say to God that we cannot do anything without His omnipotent help. May God keep us away from the highway of pride by helping us to walk closer to the lowly path of humility. Amen.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew