How many times have we heard the news of a great leader in the Christian community who has been shamed and cast from their leadership role because they came to think the law didn’t apply to them? It doesn’t matter whether their transgression results in financial malfeasance, moral failure, or theological apostasy.
The bottom line is they initially followed the Lord and enjoyed success, but were deceived into believing their success provided them a stature above the law.
Proverbs 16:18 warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” King Uzziah’s example illustrates how triumph leads to pride, pride exalts self and blinds us to our weaknesses. Our selfishness draws us into sin even as our weakness leaves us vulnerable to attack.
It’s a predictable and preventable cycle.
How do we stop this cycle before it begins?
If we set our minds firmly on the truth that “all good and perfect gifts come from above,” that God is the giver of our talents, our victories, our wealth, even our next breath, then pride has no place to gain a foothold. We recognize selfish ambition and self-serving desires as sin, and repent and seek the power of the Holy Spirit to resist their pull. When we acknowledge our vulnerability to sin and thoughtfully consider how we might “avoid every kind of evil” or in the King James Version, “abstain from every appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22), we make wise choices.
How might that look for us, practically speaking?
If we handle funds, we might ensure processes are in place to double-check our math, to provide a second signature on checks, or to have regular, independent audits of our financial practices.
If we meet with colleagues, we do so in public. If private meetings are needed, a witness may be prudent. Although Billy Graham famously adhered to this rule in regard to members of the opposite sex, today the practice may need to be more broadly applied.
If we are preaching, we may seek brothers and sisters with diverse perspectives to review our notes and point out when we miss the mark, either in our understanding of God’s Word, or in our application and illustrations. (WHEN, not if, because each of us will be imperfect at times!)
What practical steps do you recommend to guard against the dangers of pride?