In 1985 Jose Cubero, one of Spain’s most brilliant matadors was performing before a sold out audience. The bullfight started with much pageantry and fanfare. After he had weakened the bull with knives and his sword, he thrust his sword a final time into the bleeding, delirious bull. Immediately the bull collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, he turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull however was not dead.
It rose and lunged at him. Its horn pierced his back and punctured his heart. That day Jose Cubero died. At the very point of victory, something he had overlooked cost him his life.
I’m convinced that one of the biggest threats to spiritual victory is an often overlooked thing called pride. It’s a subject often neglected and one we’d sometimes rather not discuss. It can even make us angry. About 10 years ago I gave a message on pride. I’ll never forget what happened after; it’s the only time I’ve ever had this experience. As soon as I left the pulpit, a man stopped me to let me know I’d wasted a message speaking on a topic that was of no spiritual value. It was clearly a topic he’d rather not discuss.
What is pride? Pride is an overbearing opinion of one’s worth or importance and like an octopus it has many legs. Let’s be introspective as we consider four of these legs: Haughtiness – arrogantly self admiring; Vanity – an excessive desire for admiration; Conceit – an exaggerated opinion of one’s ability; Vainglory – undue boasting about one’s accomplishment.
Although it is so often overlooked, pride is certainly one of the most deadly sins and causes significant damage in the body of Christ. One of the greatest preachers of all time, Charles Spurgeon, said: “There is nothing into which the heart of [a person] so easily falls as pride, and yet there is no vice which is more frequently, more emphatically, and more eloquently condemned in Scripture.”
Proverbs 16:5 (NIV); The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this, they will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 (message) – First pride, then the crash — the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
King Asa was one of Judah’s great kings. In 1 Kings 15 we have an account of many of his spiritual accomplishments. Read 1 Kings 15:9-15 and you cannot but be impressed with his spiritual commitment. But despite this wonderful start, Asa had a very bad finish. I hope you’ll take the time to read 2 Chronicles 16. When you read verses 10-12 it’s hard to believe this is the same King who was off to such a great start. Unfortunately, Asa’s accomplishments made him proud. When his sin was brought to his attention, instead of repenting, his pride caused him to be enraged. At the end of his life the Bible records, “Asa was afflicted with a disease. Although the disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord”. What a tragedy! Pride often makes us unwilling to say we were wrong.
As the Spirit of God shines his searchlight on your life, can you detect any root of pride in your life? Once you recognize it, take the next 3 steps as you ask God to root it out:
1. Repent of it. 1 John 1:9
2. Learn to be a servant of others. Matthew 20:26, Philippians 2:3, 4
3. Replace pride in yourself with boasting in our great God. Jer. 9:23, 24; 1 Cor. 1:31
What a wonderful God we serve! Let’s boast in Him alone.