This summer we are taking a Deeper Dive into Wisdom.  We are circling back and working through some of the big topics that Solomon speaks of often in His Manual for Living, the book of Proverbs.  This is an important way to study Proverbs because Solomon throws so many different thoughts, great one-liner statements, and important life principles at us, that we don’t want to miss out, we want to be able to process and personalize as much of His wisdom as we can, so circling back to these bigger statements is important.  Today we are going to talk about two things that Solomon brings up ALL THE TIME.  I’m not sure there is anything that Solomon wants in our lives more than this one thing, and I’m positive that Solomon does NOT want to see the other in our lives at all.  Today we are going to talk about Humility and Pride.  We aren’t going to just glance at these two concepts, but we are going to really dive into what they are, and what they aren’t and we are going to allow Solomon to show us what they truly lead to, and to me, that was what really captured my attention in Proverbs 15 and 16.  Solomon makes two very clear statements explaining what and where humility leads in our lives and also what and where pride leads in our lives.

Proverbs 15:33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. MSG

I love this and we will dive deeper into that statement, but once again, we see that Fear of God thing there, and then he talks of what humility leads to in our lives.  Humility leads us to experience glory.  A few verses later Solomon mirrors this statement with one on pride.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall. GNT

It is interesting, isn’t it?  Two very important, very clear statements that seem to tie together.  Humility leads to you experiencing glory, pride leads to destruction.  Now we read through the book of Proverbs and have seen many different moments where Solomon encourages humility and warns against pride, but I want us to dive into this today.  Do you truly know what humility is and how essential it is for you to experience your best life possible?  Do you truly know what pride is and why and how it leads to destruction?  Well, today we are going to take a deeper dive into humility and pride.  Let’s start by talking about humility.

We have learned a lot about humility as we study Proverbs.  Hopefully, by now we understand that the humble can be wise, the unwise, or the fool are those who are prideful.  Solomon has made that very clear.  Do you remember how Solomon says we obtain wisdom?  It’s the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. NLT

If we want to obtain wisdom it all starts with this fear of the Lord.  We will talk more about that today, but what we are seeing here is that if we cannot humble ourselves and walk in reverence or awe of God, we will not obtain wisdom, the fool stubbornly despises His teaching and leading. We must humble ourselves to obtain wisdom.  This concept of humility and pride is on repeat all through Solomon’s teachings.  Here’s another example or two.

Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. 35 The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame. NIV

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. NIV

I tell you often that something repeating itself in our Scriptures is a big deal, and this concept is repeated early and often in the book of Proverbs and all through our Bibles.  James literally quotes Solomon.  And again, scripture on repeat needs to have our attention!

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. NIV

Can I ask you something here today?  Do you know what it truly means to be humble?  I mean it is very important, so we really need to grasp what this is…and for many people today, many Christians today, I am not sure we understand what humility really is.  I mean, we go to church and learn and read and understand Christian concepts that humility is good and important, and pride is bad, but do we truly grasp what it is?  Well, let’s go back and define humility.  If you look up the definition of humility, I don’t know that it helps us all that much.  Humility is freedom from pride or arrogance.  Well, ok that makes sense.  I mean we know this right? Humility is good and pride is bad…this comes up a lot, but do we truly grasp what humility is?  I would say most of us do not.  So, while humility is one of the most important characteristics found in the Christian life, I would say most Christians don’t understand what humility is and what it is not.  This is very important, because it is humility that leads to us truly experiencing all that we want in life, or as Solomon says, it leads to glory.  There are many reasons we confuse what humility is and isn’t, but for our conversation today let’s stick with three big ones.

First, many of us mistakenly think that humility is weakness, passivity, or a lack of strength, while it is the opposite of weakness.  The strong are humble.

“Humility isn’t denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.” Rick Warren

Second, many of us struggle with pride which is the great opposition to humility.  Pride is very difficult to see in our own lives.  In fact, it’s pride that is at the very core of sin and causes us to fall.

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” St. Augustine

Lastly, humility is so challenging because our human instincts tell us to keep the focus on ourselves, and the humble do not.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” CS Lewis

Self-focus is a major issue, and the way of a follower of Christ is to focus less on us and more on God and others…right?  So, this is an important topic on something that should be found in every follower of Christ, but frankly, it is rare to see in people, rarer than we would like to admit!  Yet it is humility that Solomon keeps pointing back to as the thing that we need, the key to truly experiencing our best lives.

Proverbs 22:4 True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. NLT

Solomon comes back to this time and time again, so we need to pay attention!  But before we move on I want you to see how humility and fear of the Lord are so often tied together.  So, there must be something there…and there is.  Humility is a clear understanding of who we are and who we are not.  It’s a clear standing in the reality that we aren’t the center of life or the answer to all questions, needs, and issues, but God is…I would say that when we have this in us, we trust God to do what we clearly understand we cannot.  This will become clearer as we move on, but hopefully, this helps you have a better understanding of what humility is and is not.  Now, let’s go back to that statement Solomon makes about what humility leads to, this concept of experiencing glory.  Because that sounds like something we would like to experience, am I right?

Proverbs 15:33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. MSG

First, you learn humility, then you experience glory.  I love this statement and I want us to really focus now.   Here at MRC, we talk often about standing up as your true self, your God-created self.  This is when we truly come to life and implies a few things about ourselves.  It implies that there is a version of you that God designed that is the real, true version of who you are.  As people we often are not standing up as the person God created us to be, but are living in a different version of ourselves, or what could be called our false self.  We do this for many reasons but mostly it helps us feel like we are surviving in this difficult world!  But while we may be surviving or not dying in this difficult world…we are not fully living either!  The world is so tough, and there are painful realities with life and people, and everything about this world pushes against us finding and standing up as our true selves, our God-created selves…but when we do we come to life!  That is when things get fun.  That is when we experience the glory of God in our lives…then and only then do we truly experience our best lives possible on this side of eternity.  What if that is what God is up to in each one of our lives?  Trying to wake us up, to lead us into our true selves, so we could stand fully alive as the very people God created us to be, rather than living this other version that many of us live in to protect ourselves and get through our difficult lives here on this planet.  All through Scripture we see this concept of the true self and the false self.

John 1:12 But whoever did want him (Jesus), who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. MSG

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. NIV

Ok, you may think I have gotten off course.  How does a talk on humility and pride lead us to start this concept of talking about our true self, and our false self?  Well, it’s because of that concept of experiencing glory, which we do as we come to life, which happens as we stand in our true, God-created self.  That is when we experience glory.  We must understand that the key to finding and standing up fully alive as the person God created us to be is humility.  The prideful will never experience this incredible glory, in fact, Solomon says they will experience destruction.  So, think with me now, the humble are open to God and surrendering their will to God, and allowing God to lead their lives.  They have this fear of the Lord that allows them to trust His unfailing love in their lives, and because of that, they can follow God who is trying to lead all of us to the real version of ourselves.  It’s the prideful who will never allow that to happen because they run the show and there is no greater tragedy in life than someone living a false life and never experiencing their true life in Christ.  This is what happens to the prideful and why Solomon says it leads to destruction.  Humility allows us to come fully alive and experience glory, pride refuses to move, and could never trust God to provide or lead, so they simply can’t or won’t be led into the very person God created them to be because the prideful know best.  This leads us to a quote from Thomas Merton that has been in my heart and mind a lot lately…

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” Thomas Merton

I ran across this quote over a month ago while working through the podcast, and it has really stuck with me, given me a lot to think about, and now I see this principle everywhere.  Pride makes us artificial or fake.  It’s pride in us that leads to destruction.  It’s pride that doesn’t allow us to open up to God’s lead in our lives, we don’t grow, we don’t learn, we never submit or surrender our lives to Him, and we feel a need to be something God never created us to be.  This is why I see these two statements from Solomon tying together for us today.

Proverbs 15:33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. MSG

Humility leads to us experiencing glory, because we can trust God and allow God to shape and lead our lives and we experience our true self, our God-created self, and we stand up fully awake and alive.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall. GNT

Pride leads to destruction because we can’t trust anyone but ourselves.  We refuse to see the very person that God created us to be, we know best, and feel the need to be the person we want rather than standing in the true self.  Pride makes us artificial, which is our downfall, it leads to destruction.  Check this out in Psalm 10, David says it so well here, the prideful have no room for God in their life.

Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. NIV

So, let’s tie this all together, and think this through.  How could humility lead me to experience glory and pride lead me to destruction?  It’s because humility leads us to trust and follow God all the way to our true selves.  We find and experience our best lives as we come alive.  Pride will never allow that.  The prideful live a fake life.  And with the time that we have left, I want you to see some of the biggest ways this false, or artificial life comes out, and just how destructive it truly is for you and all of those around you.  This is important because pride is very difficult to see in our own lives.

1st People – The Prideful False Self Wants to Impress and Please People.  The Humble true self isn’t worried about pleasing people but wants to please God.  So, pride means I am living for myself, and I need to get it all done in my own strength.  I run the show.  Because I can’t trust what God is doing, I’m making it happen.  I also am not secure in whom God made me to be, so I need to impress and please others.  How do we do this? Well, we put on a show.  We try to elevate ourselves to others.  We want to look important to others, so we make sure everyone knows how hard we work, how busy we are, and how important we are…we tend to make up our own version of reality to elevate ourselves in the eyes of other people.  This may be thought of as insecurity but it’s pride.  Pride makes us artificial.

2nd Materialism – The prideful false self wants to impress others.  The humble true self is content with what God provides and isn’t worried about material possessions or “the getting” in life because they trust in God’s love and trust in what God is giving or providing.  Pride is me living for me, unable to trust what God is doing, and needing to do things my own way, in my own strength.  For so many people it can be a real struggle to trust God.  There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but for so many of us, it turns to greed.  We can’t trust God’s giving, we stay focused on our getting and no amount of stuff will ever be enough, it’s like we just can’t see His provision, protection, and lead in our lives.

Luke 12:29 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving.” MSG

Pride will never allow us to relax and focus on responding to God’s giving in our lives because pride in us is pushing us to take and get for ourselves.  The prideful can’t trust God in His provision and giving.  Jesus actually says that is how people who don’t know God live and think and shouldn’t be the way a Christian lives and thinks, we who know God’s love should focus on the giving of God!

Luke 12:29 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. MSG 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. 32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.  NLT

3rd FEAR – The prideful false self also experiences unhealthy levels of stress and fear that the humble true self does not experience.  This fear is a warning sign of pride in your life because pride says I can’t trust God in the tough times, because I know better than God, or “I can fix” or “control it.”  Now, the humble will also feel the weight of difficult situations in life, but they trust the Lord to protect, provide, and lead them through.  They depend on God and trust in Him to handle what they cannot.  Pride will never allow that, and stress, and fear can overwhelm their life.   This is important for us to talk about today.  Fear, stress, anxiety, and worry may not have felt like pride before but the reality of those unhealthy levels of stress and fear in our lives comes down to our inability to trust God.  And we are learning so much of humility is the clear understanding of who God is, and the ability to trust Him with our lives.  It is pride that says, I know best, and I need to find a way through rather than humbling ourselves to the Lord and trusting that He knows best and that He will guide, protect, and lead us through.  This is where I really wanted to lean in with you today…so let’s talk about fear.

First, I want you to understand that fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  So don’t hear me saying that today.  It’s part of God’s design and helps keep us alive.  Fear is the thing that tells us to run away from a snake, or not get too close to the edge of the cliff, fear isn’t a bad thing.  But when fear is crippling and overwhelming our lives it is telling us something.  It is a major sign that we aren’t standing fully in our truest self.  And while we may not see it this way, that unhealthy level of fear and stress is another sign of pride in our lives.  We often associate pride with arrogance or confidence, so this may be a new thought today, but I want you to see that trying to control the uncontrollable and force outcomes you can’t force will overwhelm and stress out the best of us humans.  This is pride.  We just don’t trust God and what He is up to.  Why?  Because we know best.   Fear is part of God’s design, but unhealthy, paralyzing fear, stress, and worry is a warning sign that we aren’t experiencing God’s glory and needs to be addressed because we learn in Scripture that with God in us, we really have no room for fear.

1 John 4:16 God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. NIV

So, if God is in us, and we humbly trust Him, there is no room for fear in our lives because we know God loves us and has us, and this fear in our lives is a sign that we are not standing in our truest selves…but I want to push in on something today.  Isn’t it also interesting that we are told again and again to fear God in Scripture?  I mean, Solomon tells us that to obtain wisdom we are to do what?  We are to fear the Lord.  Solomon says it repeatedly and we find this idea of fearing the Lord all through our Bibles.  Solomon says we find wisdom in fearing the Lord.  I mean it is in our big verse of the day here today…

Proverbs 15:33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. MSG

We know that this fear is reverence or awe of the Lord, but the phrasing is interesting, isn’t it?  I mean think about it.  Shouldn’t we run from things that we fear?  Snakes, fire, pain, you name it, but fear doesn’t seem to be something we want to draw close to.  But I want you to see this today.  Fear is interesting because the thing you fear tends to be the thing that really determines a lot of things in your life.  It does lord over you.  Have you ever thought about that?  Think about things we are afraid of and what they lead us to do.  If you are afraid of the dark, what do you do?  You stay in the light and avoid the dark.  If you are afraid of heights, what do you do?  You stay on the ground and avoid heights.  If you have a fear of not having enough money to pay your bills, what do you do?  Work, worry, save, never spend any money.  If you have a fear of relationships, you spend your life avoiding people.  If you fear the future, you spend your life focused on and living in the past.  If you fear rejection, you spend your whole life trying not to be rejected, probably pretending to be someone you are not, and losing your true self in the process.  What you fear can run your life.  I have felt a lot of fear and stress lately, over different things.  My children are getting older and spreading out over the United States while still needing Dad in their tough moments and it’s hard to help from 700 miles away.  The house issues, the bills, the spiritual condition of my loved ones, and eternal destinies inside and outside of my Spiritual Family.  In my life, I have hit a tough stretch where it seems that if it could go wrong it has.  So much has hit my home, my family, and life and I felt fear and stress at a level that started to convict me and led me into this journey that we are talking through today and made this very personal for me.  I realized I needed to repent of that stress and fear because, at its core, I was struggling to trust God, who has always taken care of me, He always has, and He always will.  Somehow in all the stress and pain and dramas of life, the fear pushed in hard, and I was feeling it to a level that convicted me, you see, I needed to put my trust in Him.  So, He could do what I am certainly not able to do in my life, as He always does.  I felt a need to repent of that lack of trust, and a need to focus on faith, to trust God to do what only He could do in my life.  Yes, it’s been a series of huge events that anyone would be stressed about but I didn’t like the level of fear and stress it placed on me and knew it was a heart issue that needed to be addressed.  I needed to trust God to do what only He could do in my life again.

As I reflected on all of that, I realized something.  We are told to “NOT BE AFRAID, OR FEAR NOT” 365 times in our Bible, so this is a big deal…but, there is one thing we are told to fear.  The only fear I am commanded to have in Scripture is fear of the Lord.  Maybe, Solomon was wiser than we even realize.  What if we truly only feared the Lord and He was the one driving our lives?  What we fear tends to drive our lives, and we are to humble ourselves and allow God to do that.  Those who fear the Lord do.  What would life look like if the only thing that we truly feared was God, who is perfect love, and casts out all fear?  Check this out in Psalm 147…another profound example of fearing God…

Psalm 147:11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love. NLT

When we choose to only fear God, He is Lord over our lives rather than all the other stuff, we find peace and hope in His unfailing love for us!  I want you to see that at its core that level of fear in our lives is showing us pride in our lives because we just cannot trust God to do what only He can do in our lives.  We don’t trust His love, His great provision in our lives!  Fear screams at us that we can’t trust God and we try to go it alone, and it just doesn’t work…it is hard to make good choices when we are living a life of pride, which is why Solomon calls the prideful fools.  It’s because the fool believes they are more trustworthy than God, the fool would rather trust themselves than The All-knowing, All-powerful God of the Universe to care for their lives.   It’s humility that leads to peace and joy and us experiencing glory, it’s pride that leads to destruction, and frankly, it’s self-inflicted, self-made destruction in our lives.

So how are you doing with this whole thought process today?  I know I threw a lot at you, but this is very important.  For so many of us, we are good people, and for the most part, we have created good lives for ourselves…but if we are honest, we live life for ourselves.  We are good people, doing some good things, but we replace God with good things, and never truly give our whole lives over to Him.  I think the number one thing we are seeing in wisdom is this humility in our lives helps us understand that this is all about God.  Humility allows us to trust Him and His great love for us.  God should be running the show, and not us, and pride never allows that to happen in our lives.  We make our own way rather than allowing God to lead and give us our best lives possible.  So many of us aren’t experiencing our best lives possible because of pride.  We live fake, artificial lives that may look ok to human eyes, but never allow us to experience glory, which is found in our true life in Christ.  This is why these two parallel statements are so important that Solomon makes that we studied today in our Deeper Dive.

Proverbs 15:33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living — first you learn humility, then you experience glory. MSG

Proverbs 16:18 Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall. GNT

So, a couple of questions as we close…Are you living and experiencing the glory of God in your life?  Do you live in your true self or are you living a fake and artificial life?  Remember pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Do you struggle to be yourself around people?  Do you try to elevate your importance or inflate your resume to look good?  Do you tell stories and make up stuff to fit in and look important?  Are you a different person in different environments or are you the same person everywhere you go?  Remember pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Do you struggle to be content in life, and always need to be getting more?  Are you content?  Do you trust that God loves you, cares for you, and will provide all that you need?  Do you need to look a certain way with all that you have?  Remember pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Are you at peace or are you fearful, stressed out, and anxious?  What do you fear?  Can you trust in God’s unfailing love in your life?  Can you trust God to handle things in your life or do you believe that you are more trustworthy than The All-Knowing, All-Powerful God of the Universe?  Remember the fool thinks they know best, that is pride, and it leads to destruction, it is the humble who experience glory.

Listen we love you so much, and we want you to experience your best life possible on this side of eternity, and we can’t do that with pride in our life because pride makes us artificial while humility makes us real.  When we stand in the humility that says I can trust God with my entire life, we begin to come fully alive.  We can be the true person that God made us to be, and we will experience God’s glory.  Humility is a deep understanding that we aren’t the answer to anything in our lives, God is.  It is a deep trust in God’s unfailing love.  When we truly and deeply live in this truth, we experience our best lives possible, and the key to it all is humility.