22220.013 The Rise and Fall of the Proud

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food. (Proverbs 12:9)

Man is tested by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27:21b)

Years ago, when I hosted a Phil-Donahue-style TV talk show syndicated in Canada, the producer told me, “We can make you a household name in ninety days.” I noticed that my head swelled slightly at the thought. Celebrity can do that.

Pride is something the Scriptures says God “hates.” He hates even a “proud look.” Why is pride such a big, bad deal to God? There are lots of reasons. Pride causes us to look down on others and push them down, hold a dangerously exaggerated view of ourselves, demand to be served rather than to serve, and—worst of all—steal glory due only to God. E-G-O is “Edging God Out.”

Proverbs 11:2 creates an equation which basically says, “Pride is to disgrace as humility is wisdom.” This equation reveals a positive correlation between the size of one’s ego and the probability of humiliation. Thus, arrogance is, in the end, really stupid.

Principle: The same wind that puffs an ego blows away one’s potential for true honor.

In a New York Times article, Brad Pitt talked about being a celebrity: “We can get away with things that other people can’t, and you start to believe the lie that you are special, that you’re better than other people. You start demanding that kind of treatment. Most of the time I fight it, because I know I’m going to get older and it’s going to go away, but at times I succumb to it.” Proverbs 12:9 confirms Brad’s perspective. Praise fades. Character, wisdom, and righteous gain don’t.

Principle: Success can’t be equated with adulation. A miserably indebted celebrity is far worse off than a well-served, debt-­free nobody.

Finally, fame is not a friend and, as such, should not be pursued. Solomon had his share of it and knew that the praise of people is a horrible trial…like a crucible for silver or a furnace for trying gold (Proverbs 27:21a).

Principle: Those who feed on their praise are plunging head­-long into the greatest fiery test of their lives. Not many will survive with their souls.

[from “Wisdom for the Trenches” by Dr. Larry W. Poland]