Tripping Hazards: Pride

This week, we’re continuing our message series entitled “Tripping Hazards”.  In this series, we’re learning about common tripping hazards that exist in life and how to put our past in our past and move forward unhindered by it.
So far, we’ve covered the tripping hazards of offense and regret.  This week, we’re learning about how to avoid the tripping hazard of pride.
We’ve all heard the scriptures being quoted which make it crystal clear that pride is literally a tripping hazard in life!
Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
James 4:6b
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Proverbs 16:5
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
Psalm 10:4
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
The scriptures go on and on and on about the dangers of pride.  In fact, Ezekiel 28 reveals that pride was essentially the very first sin.  It was pride that corrupted the wisdom of the guardian cherub and caused him to be cast down to the earth out of heaven along with a third of the angels; Satan, himself.
Pride puffs up a person making them think and believe that they are better than they really are.  It is the root source of all sorts of sin.  There simply isn’t enough time in the rest of the day to list them off!  It is an easy tripping hazard to get trapped in and one of the toughest to get out of.
Why is this the case?  Because pride is a self-cloaking tripping hazard.  It literally camouflages itself.  A person who is bound by pride becomes too prideful to see their own pride.  In fact, whenever someone who is bound by pride is confronted about their pride, they often accuse the confronter of having pride issues, themselves.  Either this, or they make that person feel guilty or ashamed that the confronter would even think that about them.
This is just the beginning, however.  Last week, we learned that telling the truth and confessing our sins to one another results in freedom and healing in our lives.  Obviously, pride will not permit this to occur.  Pride encourages us to hide or excuse our sins, whatever they might be.  Pride points fingers at everyone but self.  It does not accept personal responsibility for choosing sin.  It hardens the heart and causes us to be self-focused in all that we do.  Therefore, not only does someone who is caught up in the tripping hazard of pride stay trapped in their pride, but they also remain trapped by whatever other sins may result from that pride.
However, if pride cloaks itself, how can we tell if we are caught up in the tripping hazard of pride?
Some questions that may help to indicate issues with pride are:
1. Does it bother you when you work hard on a task and it goes unnoticed?
2. Whenever you’ve made a mistake, do you often pass blame?
3. Are you quicker to see your strengths than your weaknesses?
4. Whenever you have a strong opinion in a group discussion, do you have to share it?
5. Do you often find yourself describing how something should have been done?
6. Do you often look down on others or their sin?
7. Do you complain often about the way things are?
8. Do you usually instruct others of a better way instead of simply lending a helping hand?
9. Do you quote scripture more often to correct rather than to encourage?
10. Are you quick to disregard correction and instruction about your life?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, or if you lied to yourself about the answer, then you’ve been tripped up by pride.  As we all know, pride comes before a great fall because when we try to walk in pride, we simply stand opposed by God.
This morning, I felt that the Lord wanted to reveal a darker reality of what pride really does.  We often do not consider this and therefore miss just why pride is such a severe tripping hazard!
Pride robs God of what is His.
Obviously, a righteous and holy God will not stand by and allow Himself to be robbed without administering justice quickly.  Honestly, He isn’t patient with it for our own good!  The quicker that we fall flat on our face and return to humility, the quicker that we begin to walk in the blessings of God and the quicker that He can exalt us.
Ultimately, this is the true test of pride; choosing to walk in humility.  Choosing to consider others better than ourselves keeps our pride in check and keeps us free from this tripping hazard.  In the same way that we aren’t born with clothes, but must choose to put them on, we are not naturally humble.  We naturally tend to be quite haughty and prideful because we were all born into sin.  Listen to what Peter writes here to teach us a bit about clothing ourselves with humility and avoiding pride:
1 Peter 5:5b-10
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Again, God opposes the proud because when we are walking in pride, we are robbing God of what is His.
Think about this for a second.  Someone breaks into your house and steals from you.  The police show up and file a report and a claim is also made with your insurance company.  What do the police and insurance company look for?  They request what things are missing, how the thief obtained them, and what their worth is.
Now think about this.  You walk into work the next day and you see that your co-worker has everything that was stolen from your house.  Even worse, they don’t even acknowledge that these items were stolen and are just casually using them as if though they were their own.  Then, to really top it all off, they offer our own belongings to us to simply borrow!
How are you feeling at that moment?
You’d probably be infuriated with a righteous rage and ready to serve justice right there on the spot!
That should help put things into perspective for us.  God alone is worthy of some things.  However, we steal those things and walk around as if though they are ours and that we deserve them or earned them in some way.  Then, we have the audacity to stroll in on a Sunday morning and let God “borrow” them for a few hours!
These things include:
Praise (1 Chronicles 16:25, Psalm 18:3, Psalm 48:1, Psalm 96:4, Psalm 145:3, Revelation 5:12, Revelation 7:12)
Honor (1 Timothy 1:17, Revelation 4:9, Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 7:12)
Glory (1 Timothy 1:17, Revelation 4:9, Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 7:12)
Thanks (Revelation 4:9, Revelation 7:12)
Power (Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 7:12)
Wisdom (Revelation 5:12, Revelation 7:12)
Strength (Revelation 7:12)
Finances (Malachi 3:8-12, Revelation 5:12)
When we choose to walk in pride, we rob from God and take for ourselves His praise, honor, glory, thanks, power, wealth, wisdom, strength, and finances.  After all, let’s be honest about our reality.  We have absolutely nothing without God.  Even if we have achieved something great, it is only because the Lord enabled us to.  Even if we do offer up great wisdom, it is only because the Lord revealed it to us.  Even if we can give generously, it is only because the Lord provided the wealth in the first place.
Recently, we visited a drive-through at a fast food restaurant and as we were driving away, my daughter, Megan, had this revelation.  We prayed and thanked God for our meal and she said, “You know what?  God really did make this food.”  She went on about how God made the trees and the animals and the people and all that the people do is take what God has given us and put it together to build the building and make the food.  If we could only live with this in mind all of the time!
God doesn’t owe us anything – yet He’s given us everything!  Us, on the other hand, owe God everything because we have nothing on our own.  We’re simply stewards of what God has given us!  This reality should keep our pride in check.  God doesn’t have to give me my next breath.  He doesn’t need to sustain my heart for another moment in time.  Yet, He just did choose to.  With this reality in mind, how can we not give God all that He is so worthy of?  How could we possibly rob Him of it and act as if though it belongs to us?
Not only does pride trip us up by encouraging us to rob from God, but it also stunts our own personal growth.  It steals our ability to learn truth because pride hardens our heart toward the full revelation of God’s truth.
Proverbs 9:7-9
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
If you attempt to correct or teach someone tripped up in pride, you’ll soon find yourself hurting.  They’ll abuse, insult, and hate you.  Their reaction is simply amazing!
The interesting thing is that it isn’t necessarily that someone caught in pride is no longer teachable at all.  It’s that pride gives them ears that hear only what they want to hear.  They’ll devour scripture, but only the words that will help justify their actions and attitudes.  Their motives in learning are purely self-serving.  They surround themselves with like minded individuals that encourage their pride.  They worship God, but not the fullness of God.  They are often drawn to the wrath of God, the judgmental and vengeful side of God because their pride has hidden the fact that they are the ones in danger of this side of God.  They sow out condemnation and division and peace is far from their lives.
And the saddest thing of all – someone tripped up from pride doesn’t see it this way at all!  They are usually the victims in all conflicts.  Why?  Because pride points the finger.  It blames and accuses refuses to humble itself in order to simply apologize and bring peace and unity.  It is emotion-fueled and loves knowledge yet despises wisdom.
It’s outright a nasty tripping hazard that we all need to be very careful and cautious to avoid!
In closing, we look to the answer; Jesus.  Jesus, of all people, could have walked in pride and arrogance and would have been right for doing it.  However, He lived His life clothed in humility and chose to be servant of everyone – even the worst of “sinners”.  As the end draws near, pride will become more and more prevalent.  We have to be wise enough to avoid this trap and learn from the example that Jesus set.
2 Timothy 3:1-8
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
Throughout your life, be mindful and watchful for the tripping hazard of pride.  Choose humility and stay free!