Proverbs, Pride & a Crazy Deer Story
By Terry Gardner
Every culture has proverbs that warn of the dangers of human pride. The Persians have a proverb on the subtleties of pride: “Thou shalt sooner detect an ant moving in the dark night on the black earth, than all the motion of pride in thine heart.” The Italian proverb on pride reminds us “If pride were as art, how many graduates we should have.” The Bible warns us about pride more than almost any other sin.
Pride is one of the devil’s three great tools. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” I John 2:16. Men and women that lust cannot defeat are easily destroyed by their pride.
How does pride lead us into sin? Believing there are some sins that I simply CANNOT commit. Paul said he beat his body daily lest having preached to others he might become a cast-a-way. I Cor. 9:27. There is no temptation except those common among men. I Cor. 10:13. If David could lie, commit adultery and murder a just man, who are we to think we are immune from certain sins. This is the reason that a smart man flees sin … he runs away from it. “But flee from these things, (loving money, desiring to get rich) you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” I Tim. 6:11. Paul rebuked the Corinthian brothers and sisters because immorality had made them “arrogant” when they should have mourned over their sins. I Cor. 5: 2. “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” I Cor. 10:14. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” Prov. 11:2. Are you too proud to run away from sin? If so, pride will catch you and destroy you.
Pride leads us into sin when we refuse to listen to the wisdom and counsel of others. We think that no one can tell us what to do or as Billy Joel famously sang, “It’s my life, leave me alone.” We all need the wisdom of others. We especially need the wisdom of those who are older and wiser than we are. True wisdom is not in learning from our own mistakes but rather comes from learning from the mistakes of others. “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Prov. 14:12.
Pride equals a lack of faith in God. “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD.” Prov. 16:5. In the garden of Eden, it was pride that sealed the deal for the devil. He told Eve if she ate she would be as wise as God. Eve trusted in her own pride rather than in what God had actually told her. We live in a world where men in their pride think they are wiser than the God who created them. The great Babylonian King Belshazzar “exalted” himself and gave not thought to the God who made the Universe at all. Then came the “handwriting on the wall.” Daniel delivered the message of God to the King … he had not only exalted himself but he had “praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.” Daniel 5:23. No human being can avoid death. It comes to us all very quickly and there is no pride in death.
Pride distorts reality. “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Prov. 16:18. Pride tells me I am indestructible when I am not. Pride tells me I can’t be caught, that I am smarter than anyone else. Pride tells me that if “I am not cheating, I am not trying.” Pride can tell us not to listen to our spouses when they only want what is best for us.
I have sometimes suggested that if the Gardner family had a coat of arms and a motto that our motto should be “Certain but seldom right.” Many years ago I had an argument at work. The chief point of contention was if deer shed their antlers annually and then re-grew them. This concept struck me as totally preposterous. I could just see some poor little deer in the forest wrinkling up its little deer forehead and trying really, really hard to grow a new set of antlers. I had a very good time mocking this ridiculous concept. One problem. It is true. May the worst thing that happens to you be that your pride makes you look like a fool. Do not be deceived pride usually leaves only death and destruction in its wake. Think on these things.