(Email subscribers: Click the title above to view the Spotify playlist)
Have you ever had a conversation when you know you’re right, you know nothing good will come from proving that you’re right, and yet your heart is so flooded with pride that you refuse to let the other person have the last word? Even worse, have you ever had a conversation where about halfway through you realize that you’re wrong, but rather than admitting it, you get angry with the other person because your pride has been hurt? I do both of these more regularly than I would like to admit (mostly with my wife), and even if it doesn’t manifest itself in this way for you, we all struggle with pride in some form. Pride is generally thought of as the chief sin or the root of all sins. Primarily this is because at the heart of all sin is our prideful rebellion against God’s sovereign rule, but it is also because most, if not all, of our sins can be traced back to pride. This is particularly true of hatred. Hatred often rises up in our hearts as a response to a wounded pride. We can see this in our study of Esther. Haman’s pride is hurt when Mordecai refuses to bow to him, and he responds with violent hatred towards Mordecai and his people.
How do you respond when your pride is hurt? Do you lash out in hate (or passive-aggressively brood in hate)? As Christians, we are called to die to pride and humble ourselves, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) The gospel of grace removes any ground for pride in the believer’s life (Romans 3:27). Why, then, do we continue to give in to pride and hatred? We continue to buy into the world’s lies telling us that the way to get ahead in life is by putting ourselves above others. The opening prayer from the Puritan prayer book Valley of Vision is a great example of a believer who understood that the only way up is down, that only at our lowest do we see God’s glory. Let this be our prayer: “Let me learn by paradox that the way up is down, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.”
Scripture: Esther 5:9-14
Sermon: The Danger and Destruction of Pride and Hatred