When I was a cocky teenager, I decided to show off in front of my family. “Watch this!” I yelled.
Wait. Let me set this up for you. Our kitchen at the time was in an old military Quonset hut. It was cramped, with two parallel counters, close to each other. I placed one hand on each counter, planning to swing a leg way back and then forward with great gusto, switching my body’s direction in mid-air to totally impress my family with my agility.
I’d done this several times on the parallel bars at the high school gym, so I felt pretty confident. Or as I said, “cocky.”
When I was sure everyone was watching, I swung my leg back and forward and …
Both legs came out from beneath me and I fell to the floor in an awkward heap. And shock. And pain. And awful embarrassment.
My family will never let me forget how foolish I looked as I rubbed my sore rear end and scurried off to my bedroom – their loud guffaws drowning out my loud wails.
Even now, I cannot read or hear Proverbs 16:18 without thinking of that incident:
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The truth was, I was trying to show up another family member for her recent achievement. I wasn’t rejoicing in her success; I was haughty, trying to “prove something.” I wanted to demonstrate I could be even better than her.
Years later, traveling with a revival ministry, I had the opportunity to study pride. A few things I discovered about Pride were:
- Pride is not compatible with love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
- Pride can bring disgrace, but humility accompanies wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).
- Pride puts distance between us and God (Psalm 138:6). [The truth is, it puts distance between us and others too!]
- There is no room for God when thoughts are full of pride (Psalm 10:4); in fact, pride can make us forget about God completely (Deuteronomy 8:14a).
Yes, I remember that embarrassing fall in my teen years, and how God used it to teach me. I learned the heart that swells with pride and arrogance is “disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive” to God (Proverbs 16:5). It’s always better to choose humility. As the Psalmist said, “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
I’m thankful my prideful fall happened early in my life. Whenever I’ve been tempted to get puffed up with prideful thoughts, self-congratulation – or even worse, a haughty spirit, comparing myself with others – I remember how quickly I can take a serious tumble!
Do you have a story of a “prideful fall”? How did God teach you to be humble?