By Jim Hardenbrook
See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. Obadiah 1:3-4 (TNIV)
Some years ago spoke at a youth conference in Virginia. The conference theme was “Humbled by His Presence.” Not being a “humility expert,” I began reading Bible passages that focus on humility and pride. It was quite a task!
Both Testaments are filled with challenges and corrections to our prideful approach to life. New Testament passages focus more on personal relationships, often dealing with church conflict. The older testament has some of that but, especially the prophets, focuses like a laser on leaders – religious and political.
Take a look at 1 Kings 21:27 and Jonah 3:6. (Two mighty rulers heard God’s warning, dressed in “robes of sadness,” and humbled themselves before God.)
Rulers who wrapped themselves in religious practices but ignored God's guidance were called out. “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you: even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of
blood; wash and make yourselves clean.” Isaiah 1:15-16 (NIV)
C. S. Lewis warns us in Mere Christianity that “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.” A page or two later Lewis asks, “How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious?” He comes to the conclusion that such people “are
worshiping an imaginary god.”
How would we respond if our faith leaders and those asking for our votes called for fasting, humility, and prayer rather than greatness, vengeance, and partisanship? Perhaps we should consider the humble wisdom of Abraham Lincoln as he authorized, with these words, a National Fast Day in 1861:
When our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals to humble ourselves before him and to pray for His mercy.
Maybe there is a better path than the one we are on.
Almighty God, you are the Potter, we are the clay. Mold us and make us. Change our hearts, O God, may we be like you. Amen.