Pastor Bill White from Paramount, CA shared the story of a time he took a 45-minute drive in an old, beat-up van with a guy he barely know. He writes: “Along the way we ended up talking about Jesus and whether this man would give his life to Christ. His response to me laid out humanity’s resistance to the gospel with striking clarity. He said, “My biggest problem is pride. I can’t humble myself. And you wanna know the reason I can’t give up my pride?” He leaned up onto the steering wheel and paused for effect. “Because it’s brought me so far.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I know that his pride has brought nothing but great pain. It was all he held onto while growing up in gangs—while his father died of a drug overdose and his mother was in the mafia. I know that this self-made man beats his wife regularly, that he’s unemployed, that he has just gotten out of prison. In fact, I found out a week later that he was on his way back into prison!
In a separate conversation, his wife told me that his young daughters are terrified of him, that he is an alcoholic, and that she is planning to leave him. She even told me that the old van he was driving was going to be repossessed in a week.” (Bill White)
Pride which puffs us up… actually brings us to one place: downward. In today’s passage God tells the Edomites that though they built their cities high in the mountains… though they thought themselves to be impervious to attack… He would bring them down from their lofty heights. “Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.” (49:16b) God humbles the proud, but lifts up those that humble themselves before him. 1 Peter says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Maybe we should stop elevating ourselves and start letting him do the lifting up. Love the lyrics of the old Rich Mullins song, Sometimes By Step: “And on this road to righteousness sometimes the climb can be so steep. I may falter when I step, but never beyond your reach.” It is God’s grace – not our human pride – that ultimately takes us to the heights.