Welcome to this exciting new series! I am so glad you are here right now. Do you have a cup of tea or coffee? Go and grab one if not! And get cosy as we go on an adventure into the bible and into conversation about Pride and Humility in the life of a Christian.
Before we get started if you haven’t read the ‘why‘ behind this new series go and read it before you delve in! We’r so glad you are here. Enjoying your cuppa tea? Lets jump into our first adventure in the bible and explore the topic of Pride vs Humility. Open your heart. Jot some notes. Feel free to pause. And enjoy!
First of all, let’s look at the definitions.
There are of course positive and negative types of Pride. There’s a difference between feeling proud and being proud. We feel a proud when someone we love achieves something great after working really hard which comes from a place of love for that person – this is feeling proud. But if I take their achievement and boast to others about it to make me look great, and try make others feel jealous or not as good as me, that is me being proud to glorify myself.
Have you heard of a character in the Old Testament named King Nebuchadnezzar?
If you don’t know here are a few fun facts about who he was:
☆ He was the King of Ancient Babylon in 605BC ☆
☆ His story is in the book of Daniel ☆
☆ He was the guy who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
into a burning furnace because they refused to worship him (nice guy!) ☆
☆ He was a very powerful man and warrior ☆
☆ And God took away his kingdom because he wouldn’t humble himself (eeek) ☆
Now we come to Daniel, heard of this guy?
Here’s some fun facts about him if:
☆ Daniel has his own book in the Old Testament (c’mon!) ☆
☆ He had the God given ability to interpret people’s dreams ☆
☆ He was known as a wise, faithful, and intelligent man of prayer ☆
☆ He lived in King Nebuchadnezzar’s courts and also worked for him ☆
☆ God spoke to Daniel through radical prophetic visions ☆
☆ He was a Rebel for God. To the point he got thrown into a lions den
for not worshipping the King after he refused to do so even though everybody else was doing it..
but it’s all good because God saved his life and he was totally fine ☆
That was just for fun really.. who doesn’t love some fun facts!
Here’s how this article is going to work. We are going to dive into the book of Daniel to discover the characteristics of Pride and Humility through the lives of Daniel (humility) and King Nebuchadnezzar (pride). As I tell you the story through paraphrasing and sharing some key scriptures we will stop throughout to call out the natures of Humility and Pride as they unfold. This will help us really get to know Pride and Humility and how they flow from someones heart. Then we will unpack it a little further on how we can really embrace Humility in our lives and resist the subtle promptings of Pride.
Pride is a heavy burden for us. Playing the role of God is a heavy burden for us.
God wants us to be free. He wants us to humble ourselves.
Let’s get into it!
Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will exalt you.
Now, I love a good’ol abbreviation so I’m going to nickname King Nebuchadnezzar ‘Neb’ if that’s alright with you, it’s a pretty long name to type over and over you see.
Neb was a very rich man. He reigned and controlled an enormous kingdom, but with a heart filled with Pride. I think he viewed himself like a god; the fact that he actually built a golden statue and demanded people to worship it might suggest that! (Daniel 3). The awkward thing for Neb, of course, was, is that it was God who gave him his kingdom in the first place, as he would have to learn. The last thing on King Neb’s mind was to give the glory to God for it all; he wanted all of the credit for what he had ‘built’ even though it was by the very grace of God and the help of other people. So God, having kept a watchful eye on the posture of his heart, shows him in a dream that God is sovereign over all mankind. However when Neb doesn’t heed the warning, He decides to humble him for a season, and takes away everything that He gave him.
I don’t know about you, but already this story makes me want to check myself before I wreck myself! This article might be very reflective in some places; feel free to stop think and journal throughout if it brings anything up for you.
Could there be ‘gold statues’ that we have built for the world to see for our glory?
Now at the time of king Neb’s first dream from God, Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who had been taken captive from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon some years before, were in training to get them ready to serve in the King’s palace, and God gave them favour there.
‘To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand dreams and visions. At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into service, the chief official presented them to Neb. The king talked with them, and found none equal to Daniel, Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego; so they entered the king’s service’
Daniel 1vs 17 – 20
Now, back to the King Neb’s first dream. To paraphrase, the essence of the dream (or you can read in full in Daniel 2), is that he sees a magnificent statue which is destroyed by a huge rock crashing into it. Then the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Neb wakes up from this dream with a bad feeling and makes outrageous and impossible demands that his ‘wise men’ (astrologers and others who practised various forms of magic arts) to come and interpret this dream for him, but none of them could. So King Neb ordered for the ‘all the wise men’ (which included Daniel and his friends) to be executed (wow Neb – bit much!!). Daniel heard what was going on and spoke to the king’s servant ‘with wisdom and tact’ before approaching the king and asking for time so he could seek his God for the interpretation.
I’m just going to interrupt the story quickly to touch on something important. It’s really easy for us as Christian’s to be self conscious about shining bright for everyone to see. Sometimes we worry that us being confident is being prideful. It’s not! We are called to shine brightly! (Matthew 5:14). It might have been easy for people around Daniel to say:
“Who does Daniel think he is? God’s gift?”
“He’s a show off!”
But he took his life into his own hands by approaching King Neb, confident in God’s protection of him in doing what was right!
Have we felt that way around someone who is shining bright for the Lord? I know I have in the past! But actually that’s just our own insecurity that we must let God’s love into. Maybe we have come across people who do have a lot of pride. Oh well, let God deal with that – don’t need to get too worried about it – pray for them and focus on just humbling yourself.
Kris Vallotton puts it well, ‘if humans were a beautiful painting and people put it up on the wall for all to see – it wouldn’t take any glory away from the artist, it glorifies the artist who painted it!
So..after seeing Neb, Daniel went back to his friends and urged them to pray to God for a miracle interpretation. During that night God gave Daniel a vision of what the king’s dream meant.
“Praise be the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he disposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light swells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
The next morning Daniel heads to the king and asks the king if he would spare the other men’s lives because he had the interpretation for his dream.
‘The king asked Daniel, “are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has been asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown king Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed were these:..”‘
Daniel proceeded to repeat the dream back to the king and he was spot on.
Can you imagine having a dream and then God revealing it to someone else and they repeated it back to you?
At this point, the king was probably dreading the interpretation as we had a bad feeling about it all.
Daniel went on to give him the interpretation (Daniel 2:36 full passage). He told the king that he (king Neb) was this golden head (uh-oh), and the silver, bronze, iron and clay represented kingdoms that would come after his. And the rock that smashed the statue that turned into a great mountain was the greatest kingdom that was unshakable; yeah that was God’s kingdom!
Basically God is showing the king who’s really boss.
The king’s reacts with praise and amazement towards God, and he promotes Daniel to a high place for his help but the message God was trying to teach him didn’t quite get into his heart. Like many powerful leaders, he was a floored character, and whilst this message would please him, he would not learn the most important lesson of God’s sovereignty. King Neb goes on to build a golden statue and orders everybody to fall down and worship it whenever they hear the horn blow, and if anyone didn’t do this they would be thrown into a blazing furnace. You’d think that Neb would have remembered his dream from God in this moment, wouldn’t you? In the next part of the story Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand firm in their faith and refuse to worship the golden statue of king Neb and the bible states he the king was ‘furious with rage’ and he orders they be thrown into the fiery furnace!
That last part hit me. When king Neb ‘furiously throws someone into the fire’ , can this almost be symbolic for what happens within us emotionally when pride rises up within us?
I know this may be challenging you internally but keep reading! I know I have been challenged but I’m also so refreshed by studying this! Pride can be so obvious! But it can be also be sly.
Let’s carry on with the story..
‘Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal adviserscrowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Wow, another miracle in front of the king’s eyes! Nebuchadnezzar again, responds with praise to God for this amazing sign of His power and he promotes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He even ordered that everybody worship this God! But the king hadn’t learned true humility quite yet as the next passage shows.
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contentedand prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream.
In the second dream he saw a huge and glorious tree. It was so large it touched the sun. The leaves were beautiful, the fruit were abundant and the wild animals took shelter under it. And then he heard a voice from heaven saying “cut down the tree, strip the leaves, scatter the fruit! But leave the stump. Let him be given the mind of an animal till seven times pass him”.. I’m sure Daniel had to take a deep breath as he went to interpret the dream to the king, “you are the tree, king Nebuchadnezzar. God’s taking your kingship away and driving you into the wilderness untill you acknowledge that it’s Heaven that rules, the stump means when you humble yourself, God will restore your kingdom again”
Daniel, then pleads with the king to renounce his sin to God, and to stop oppressing people so this dream doesn’t become a reality.
But the king didn’t listen..
Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty? Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all
kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
I know right, pretty extreme. Luckily for king Neb this changes his mind. The scales are taken from his eyes and he finally realises that God is God and he is just a man. God restores his kingdom back to him, and makes him even greater than he was before.
What a story.
Who rules the world? God!
I was so in a state of ‘wow’ when I was studying for this article. I don’t know about you, but more than ever I’m inspired to walk in more humility. I want to share before we go into some application a couple of key things I took from this myself. God’s soveriegnty has hit me in a whole new light. I was amazed that even though king Neb was paying God no attention at all God still used him and blessed him with a kingdom and influence. Even all the people today who are in power, they are there because God allows it. We may not understand this; king Neb was an evil man, and there are bad people in power today. But in the end God used king Neb’s life for His glory.
God is sovereign! He gives influence to whoever He wants to, and in His wisdom He will move in unique ways. I remember years ago I would pray for lots of subscribers on YouTube. I always wondered why some Christian youtubers would make videos that would get so many views and I wouldn’t. I realise now this was God’s grace and protection. I was in no way ready for that responsibility, and needed to grow more in my character. What’s most important is this, that we learn to be content to serve and glorify God. If it’s God’s will for us to influence many, fine. If it’s God’s will for us to influence those in front of us, that’s great too. But most of all is that we must learn to be content in all situations, which Daniel model’s so well. . He will lift up the humble if He pleases at the right time by His Fatherly love and wisdom. He knows what His kids needs.
1. Following Jesus and Holy Spirit power.
The gospel will forever be the best news on earth. Jesus got on the end of God’s wrath against sin and paid it all for us. He gives us the opportunity for a brand new fresh start every… single… day. If you have felt yourself struggle with pride and recognise your need for help, amazing! This is the first step for your healing. Bring it to Jesus in prayer – He has all the healing and compassion you could imagine for you. When God looks at you.. he doesn’t even see your pride. He sees the true you and He sees the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus to cover every blemish. You are perfect in Jesus (Romans 8), and it’s from His love we are empowered to grow as people in Him.
Nothing to prove,
Covered in Love,
You are free.
Jesus says, to those who are weary (carrying a heavy burden of Pride can definitely get exhausting) come to him and he will give you rest. We can learn to be humble just by following Jesus. He has so much compassion for heavy hearts. He’s a beautiful God. So spend some time with Jesus.
Invite the Holy Spirit into these difficult areas.
Humility will naturally be fruit in your life as a result.
2. Admit, Commit, and Heal.
Admitting to ourselves that we are dealing with a pride issue is a huge step in the right direction. And can I encourage you to take one step further to actually tell someone you know and trust as well who will pray for you? This will help you in your healing process, and be sure to go to the right person to pray – I know it’s hard, and there’s no pressure to do this. If you don’t have anyone, call someone in a local church. There are always wonderful people around, sometimes we just need to find them. Pray that God leads you to the right person. He will do it! He cares for you so much.
In order to heal from the damage of pride in a person’s soul, it’s good to know the symptoms of pride that it can have in our life so we can tend the wound within the context of loving relationship with God who is named in the bible ‘Wonderful Counsellor’. He’s guiding you lovingly in the whole process. You are not alone.
Prides Symptoms + Peace for your soul
Pride blinds you from your faults,
But we all make mistakes,
Pride escalates conflicts
But we still won’t get a break
Pride turns anger into revenge,
But we’ll only reap what we sow
Pride turns hurt into bitterness
But we must heal and let it go
Pride talks about others flaws just to cover up it’s own
Don’t go down this path, we don’t deserve a heart of stone
Pride divides relationships
But we all need family
Pride sets us up for destruction
But we will fall I guarantee
Get up and shake off the dust!
And walk in humility
Take a breath, just be, and Trust.
There’s a God who’s in control,
He will help you walk in freedom
He will pour Peace into your soul.
3. Grudges and Forgiveness
Holding a grudge can be a straight road to letting pride come in. I remember around seven years ago something happened in my personal life that hurt me so deeply that I even found it hard to sleep at night because I felt so angry about it. How on earth can we forgive or not hold a grudge when it effects us so personally? We feel like we want to get revenge but this never ends well, and when unforgiveness builds over time it will leak into other areas of our lives and relationships. It also makes us skeptical of other people’s motives causing us to focus on the negative – it’s too much for a person to bear and I know it’s hard but we have to deal with our unforgiveness, friends. Sometimes it’s even us having to forgive ourselves that can be really tricky also. But have faith, there is so much hope for breakthrough!
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
– Margaret Stunt
Forgiving the person that hurt you will bring you freedom. Even though you may have to forgive them over and over again over a period of time. It’s important that you vent out the pain, let the anger out to someone pastoral (even if that’s just privately God) so we can let out the pain in order to heal. And this is where we go to the power of the gospel of Jesus and the grace and forgiveness He showers over us!
But this is how God demonstrates His love for us: whilst we were sinners, Christ died for us
The gospel is the key to give you the strength to humbly forgive others. Imagine having to die for the person we were struggling to forgive? Let alone the whole of humanity’s sin. I know that when I can’t even muster the strength to forgive someone, I will ponder the beauty of the gospel and receive Jesus forgiveness which will empower me to forgive others.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
4. Renewing the Mind.
Learning to catch those moments where we feel pride rise up in us is going to take some practise. Learn what those moments are for you. It could be when we want to boast about ourselves, or when someone is trying to teach us or correct us and we get defensive, or maybe it’s when we want to be better than someone else at something. In those moments choose to hold your tongue and humble yourself. Our brains are amazing, if we consistently do this we will create a new pathway in our brain so the more we do this the more natural the way of humility will flow.
‘Whatever is in you, will flow out of you‘
5. Clothes of Humility.
As a church, let’s throw away all the ugly behaviours that come in-between our relationships.
Immerse yourself in God’s presence, His word, His Spirit, His love.
Be diligent in cultivating inner harmony within your soul lovely ones and when you are putting on your fabulous outfit on in the morning, remember to clothe yourself also in humility.
WOW! We got to the end! I pray that this article has blessed you richly! And now we really know the manifestations of Pride and Humility I pray that we have a fresh authority to overcome pride in our lives.
If this spoke to you on a personal level, take some time this week to reflect, pray and journal. Chat to a friend and hey don’t hesitate to message us on @wiildhearts__ if you need some prayer!
Thank you for joining us and we will see you for our next article:
Envy vs Kindness