“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” (Reference: Proverbs 16:18-19 )
One of the things I have struggled with concerning this theme of “Pride” is the idea that it will be punished every single time that a person commits the sin (when it is a sin) of pride. Because the truth, beloved, is that the sin of pride is NOT punished every time – in fact it is probably rarely punished at all! Historic Anabaptist Joost de Tollenaer, in a letter to his daughter, identified it as a sin saying, “But presumptuous sinning and obstinacy are an abomination before the Lord, and He will not leave unpunished such as thus lightly esteem His words. Therefore take heed to yourself, that you be not a slave to sin.”
Pride goes before a fall (as the saying goes) NOT because the sin is being punished but because disappointment often comes when someone has placed too much emphasis on appearance and status. In the same letter de Tollenaer says, “my child, when it goes well with you, watch, and continue steadfast in the fear of the Lord, and be not proud, for a haughty spirit goes before a fall.” This sounds less like a warning against sin than a warning against lofty expectations. He goes on to say, and I find part of this very interesting, “therefore have God always before your eyes in all your ways, and seek to please Him with an upright heart; and God shall be with you, and have compassion upon your weakness, and wink at sin when it comes upon you unawares through ignorance or misapprehension.” It is at this point in the letter when he turns to talk about “ presumptuous sinning and obstinacy.” But my question is, which is the sin of pride? Weakness etc or obstinacy? Because it seems to me that the Divine would be more upset with someone directly going against the Lord than a simple weakness of spirit.
Living a narrow and constricted life, as the historic Anabaptists did, means that there is no such thing as “just a little sin.” It is either sin or not sin. But I imagine the compassion of a father would allow weakness, ignorance and misapprehension. And if a human parent is willing to concede this, how much more so a Divine parent?
Beloved, if we are a sincere Christian and follower of God, we strive to be perfect. But we miss, often. There are sins in this world that go beyond the imagination and the realm of decent human conduct. And then there is the “sin” of pride. May our Lord God see into your heart and know the gravity of the sin there, and may our Lord God forgive each one. Selah!