Of pride and humility

As disciples of Christ, we all have responsibilities of leadership. It was Christ who told us in the Sermon on the Mount that we were salt and light. He said that salt was no good if it lost its savor and there can be no light if the lamp is hid under a basket. It was Peter who wrote that we were a royal priesthood. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians to put on the full armor of God, speak boldly as we ought to speak, and having done all, to stand. It was Peter and the apostles, who stood up against the prideful and hypocritical Sadducees filled with indignation, and proclaimed in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Throughout the scriptures, leaders in the faith faced challenges. As leaders in the faith, we will too.

Pride is often the double-edged sword for leaders of the faith. The position of leadership, no matter how big or small, can be a source of pride. Resisting pride through humility and an attitude of service is the mark of a good leader. Christ is our example. He led by serving others in humility and kindness. He also held people accountable. He was direct with his communication. He built consensus. He knew his purpose. But he also faced challenges, especially from the Pharisees and Sadducees who were part of the other edge of the pride sword. For various reasons, they opposed him. They saw Christ as a threat to their worldly authority and a challenge to their social status, intellect, and domain—all issues of pride.

Let us recall the story of Korah in Numbers 16-18. Korah, a cousin of Moses, was well-respected and a carrier of the Ark of the Covenant. Because he was a first-born son and a Levite, Korah believed he should be a priest and leader of his clan. But Moses chose another cousin to lead, who was not a first-born. Korah raised 250 men to confront and challenge the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses called on the wisdom of God in handling this rebellious situation. Moses proposed that Korah and his 250 followers bring their firepans with incense to the Tabernacle to determine whether they were to serve as priests. Moses prophesied that if the Lord had not sent Korah and his coconspirators that the earth would swallow them up.

You have heard it said that pride goes before a fall. Well, Korah and his buddies fell into the pit of the earth and were swallowed up because in challenging Moses, they were, in reality, challenging God’s authority. There are a lot of lessons from this story. We are all leaders in Christ and, thus we are held to a higher standard. We will face challenges. As Christ said, we will be persecuted and hated for his name’s sake. Let us always remember the double-edged sword of pride. When we are challenged, let us not allow pride to get in the way of what God is trying to accomplish. Seek his guidance. Respond in humility. As is written in Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

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Bill Wilson