Spiritual Pride; September 2, 2019


Psalm 101:1-2 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.

I see this Psalm as the perfect setup to David’s sin with Bathsheba. To me it reeks of spiritual pride, and that is the perfect invitation to the devil to come in and do his thing. As it famously says in Proverbs, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) In this Psalm David seems to be focused on how much better he is than other people, or at least some people. As Jesus pointed out in His story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, (Luke 18:9-14) that is very dangerous indeed. The things that David insists he does are not bad to do, the problem is in his patting himself on the back, especially in contrast to others. The last part of verse 2 here seems especially ironic, because it was as David was “walking in his house” that he spotted Bathsheba on the roof of her house. (I have always wondered whether she chose that location deliberately, aiming for exactly what happened.) As Paul warns us, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) All pride is dangerous, but spiritual pride is most dangerous. It blinds us to our own weaknesses and opens us up to just about any lie the devil wants to tell us. We see it all the time, with respected church leaders feeling the rules apply to others but not to them. The results of that are tragic. A parenthetical comment in the book of Numbers is actually very important: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) That was an essential requirement, as much power and authority as he had been given. As Jesus said several times and other New Testament writers echoed, in His kingdom, the way up is down.

Pride has been a snare to me all my life. Gifted in many areas, I have tended to take God’s gifts for granted, as though I somehow deserved them and they made me better than others. I realize now that attitude could have led me to become a sociopath! I have learned the hard way that I am as sinful by nature as anyone else, and without God’s grace and mercy I am hopeless. The tricky thing is, the devil tempts me to be proud of being humble! I’ve got to recognize his tricks and stand against them, on the firm foundation of submission to God. (James 4:7) God in His mercy has allowed various things to remind me of my dependence on Him. I have been proud of my good health, so tomorrow I enter the hospital for surgery for an inguinal hernia! In a number of ways that’s a good thing. Yesterday I was forced to leave setting up for lunch entirely to the men of the church, because lifting heavy things is definitely not a good thing at this point. I am to be grateful for all that God has done and is doing in and through me, while taking personal credit for nothing, but knowing that it is all His grace.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed walk as You intend, in total obedience and gratitude toward You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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