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From the Mountain

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Swallowing pride removes barriers to good things

 

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

I have written columns on the value of humility.  Let’s consider the flip side of the coin also—pride.  While we tend to elevate pride in some situations, the Bible is quick to warn of its dangers.  Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”  God rewards those who swallow their pride and submit humbly to Him even in the mundane affairs of life.

What blessings might you miss because of an unwillingness to let go of pride? 

Professor Al Fasol told this one on himself to those of us in his preaching class as I was preparing for the ministry.  As a high school student, young Al was somewhat timid and terrified of public speaking.  While pride tried to keep him in his self-imposed shell, the Lord was nudging him to take steps to overcome his shyness.

Therefore, soon after school started his junior year, he approached the speech teacher Mrs. Wilkins one afternoon to ask permission to transfer from study hall into her 2 p.m. speech class.  His voice was so low and timid that the brusque, no-nonsense lady told him, “Well, I think you better!”  He could join the class the next day.

Now Al was not naïve—he knew Mrs. Wilkins would have him take the plunge and speak to the class his first day.  But what would she have him say?  She might hand him a newspaper and have him read a front page article to his new classmates.  So after dinner that night he took the evening newspaper, went to his room, and practiced for an hour or more reading it out loud.  He would still be nervous, but he would at least be reading with a little experience.

At 2 p.m. sharp the next afternoon, Al walked into the speech class.  As Mrs. Wilkins took her seat behind her desk, she asked him to stand up.  Sure enough, she took a copy of the previous day’s newspaper and handed it to Al.  “I can handle this,” he thought.  The previous night’s practice would cut down his anxiety considerably.  However, he was not prepared for Mrs. Wilkins’s next command.  “Al,” she began in her naturally sharp voice, “I want you to SING the front page to the class.”

SING?  She wanted him to SING?  to humiliate himself in front of the whole class?  He was already standing before them.  In a split second of time, he carefully weighed his options.  He could hand her the newspaper, slip back down to study hall, and be petrified of public speaking for the rest of his life.  Or, he could embarrass himself singing the front page to his classmates but possibly overcome his crippling fear of oratory.  So he sang.  The class howled with laughter.  He thought, “I’ve lost every last shred of dignity, so I might as well enjoy this,” as he added a country-western twang to his front-page melody.  Mrs. Wilkins interrupted him to point out to the class his use of inflection.  Then she mercifully let him take his seat.

Al went on to become a newscaster for a Dallas television station before entering the ministry and eventually training young men in preaching.  His split-second decision to swallow his pride paid big dividends for himself and others.

Frequently we deny ourselves blessings from God because pride gets in the way of our obedience.  It may be a small incident, such as the time I gulped hard and asked a security guard to ride me around Vanderbilt Medical Center’s parking garage on her cart to help me find my car (now that was embarrassing!).  She was quite helpful and turned out to be a fellow believer in Christ.

Or it may be as major as publicly professing Christ before others.  Either way, we come out ahead when we shed our pride.

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).