Selfishness or pride is really at the center of our problems with following God’s word as we should. In our previous lesson, we looked at how being spiritually mature involves putting others first. Regarding pride, Proverbs 16:18 warns us that it leads to self-destruction, and I Peter 5:5 says that God resists the proud. Certainly, none of us want to set ourselves up for failure or put anything between ourselves and God, so we should be careful not to let our pride get in our ways.
The Example of Sennacherib
In Isaiah 10:12-14, God claims He will punish the king of Assyrian for the pride he demonstrates – taking credit for all his great deeds without recognizing God’s place, and, in II Kings 18, Jerusalem is laid siege by Sennacherib’s forces, and the commander of Assyria’s forces try to persuade the people to reject their trust in God, for He is powerless against Assyria. In II Kings 19, beginning in verse 35, the angel of the Lord slays all of Sennacherib’s forces after Hezekiah prays to God, and the king retreats.
We can see ourselves in the pride this king demonstrates, and Sennacherib does get something right in this ordeal. In II Kings 18:19-21 the king’s commander ridicules Israel’s government for making an alliance with Egypt, saying that Pharaoh is unreliable, a broken reed that will come back and stab Hezekiah in the hand. However, he did not count on Hezekiah’s reliance on God.
Our Broken Reeds
Like many of Israel’s rulers, we can put our trust in the wrong places, which can give out on us. Here are a few examples.
- Wealth. In I Timothy 6:17, Paul reminds us not to put trust in our possessions, for wealth is uncertain. Matthew 6:19 records Jesus warning us from prioritizing hoarding money in this life. Wealth is transitory and temporary. It will eventually fail us, but God will always be there for us.
- Our Wisdom. Jeremiah 10:23 records the prophet praying for direction in his steps. We rely on ourselves for solutions and guidance. Proverbs 3:5 reminds us to lean on Jehovah and to trust him rather than our own perception of understanding, and Proverbs 29:23 returns us to the idea of fault in pride.
- Traditions. Traditions are not, in and of themselves, inherently evil. Mark 7:6 begins an example where the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem let traditions usurp scripture. Trusting in “the way it’s always been” can be unreliable because our comfortable habits may contradict what God intends.
- Our Conscience. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart can be deceitful, and Galatians 2:20 records Paul speaking of crucifying self after so many years of trusting his conscience in tormenting Christians. Now, in this verse, he has given his heart to Christ, putting Him first. Our heart may provide us with standards of living, but those standards should be measured against God’s word.
In John 17:17, Jesus calls God’s word truth. In our example of Sennacherib, Hezekiah threw his entire trust upon God, and he was delivered. James 4:10 tells us that those who humble themselves before God to be lifted, and I Peter 5:6 tells us to cast our anxieties on Him. Finally, Proverbs 11:2 says that humility brings wisdom. We may not be able to trust in the things of this world, but we can trust God if we release our pride and embrace humility.
lesson by Tim Smelser