“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
C.S. Lewis said this about pride in Mere Christianity: “There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is pride. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.”
C.S. Lewis could be talking about Samson. He wanted to be the big man on campus and believed he was. He probably believed that guys wanted to be like him and every girl wanted to be with him. Samson believed he could do anything and he often did. After several killing sprees, Samson went to hang out in the top of the rock Etam for a while. While he was there, 3000 men of Judah came, tied him up and took him to the Philistines. When they delivered Samson, we pick up the story in Judges 15: 14-17: “As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it. Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve piled them in heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” When he finished his boasting, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill.”
Notice the phrase “and the spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson.” But in his trash talking there is no mention of God, just multiple times using the word I’ve. He is basically saying: Look how strong I am, look how skillfully I fight, and are you not impressed yet? He simply takes the credit. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to imagine Samson standing before the torn lion, his blood pumping from adrenaline, and sweat dripping from his forehead, in total amazement at the scene at his feet, thinking to himself, “Look at what I’ve done.” Instead of saying, “look at what God has done.” The problem is where pride leads. Pride produces self-recognition, self-advancement, and a desire to be served. Pride is the arrogant, self serving, ambition driven attitude that can and often does leads to destruction, as it did with Samson.
In the end Samson is the one who became humbled, by being imprisoned and forced to work in a grain mill, mocked, and ridiculed for entertainment. After all this is done, Samson finally prays to God to give him strength to do God’s will.
- How do you define pride?
- Being open and honest, have you ever gone through a season when you struggled with pride? How did it affect your relationships with others? With God? How did God address that issue in your life?
- Most men have a desire for greatness, as Samson did, that can often result in pride. Do you have a desire for greatness? How do you handle that desire? Do you believe God put it there? If so, why do you think He did?
- This week, spend some time learning what God has to say about pride. For starters, Proverbs is chock-full of warnings of the effects of pride.