IN NOT OF: Killing Our Pride

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Daniel 4:30
M’Cheyne Text: Daniel 4; Psalm 108-109

Pride: “We Build It,” sang the speakers at the Republican Convention. The slogan was a jab at Obama’s campaign speech in July, when he said: “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life … If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen … The point is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together.” [1]

Boasting: As Nebuchadnezzar looked upon his kingdom, he declared, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” [2] God responded with judgment: “Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” What was wrong? After all, had he not led his country militarily and politically?

Humility: Pride looks at everything and says, “I did it and I am due it. Life is by me and for me.” As Tim Keller says, “Pride is a form of cosmic plagiarism. You claim to be the author of something you are not” [3]. Obama was only partly right. Yes, “somebody else made that happen,” but that “somebody” – at the most fundamental level – is God, not government. He chose when, where and to whom we are born. As Paul wrote about Jesus, “All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” [4]. Yet Jesus himself let it all go. He was beaten, pierced and marred beyond human likeness. And he did this to kill our sin – even our pride – to bring us to God: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” [5].

Prayer: Lord, We confess that pride lives insidiously in our hearts. We rarely take the time to acknowledge that everything was made by you and for you. Instead, we think, “We Built It.” Forgive our cosmic plagiarism and expose to us the danger of our pride. Then lift our eyes to Christ, who laid down his life to give us ours. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Ron Elving. “GOP’s ‘We Built It’ Refrain Is Both Puzzling and Telling.” NPR.  |    [2] Daniel 4:30 ESV  |  [3] Tim Keller. “Pride: The Case of Nebuchadnezzar.” 5 February 1995. Sermon on Daniel 4:24-37.  |  [4] Colossians 1:16-17 ESV  |  [5] 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

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2 Comments to “IN NOT OF: Killing Our Pride”

  1. Citing the article in this post from a left-of-center government house organ like NPR rather neatly (but not helpfully) conflates two positions I hold. As a follower of Jesus i recognize that everything is grace–everything, including this next breath I draw, is a gift from God, freely proffered. With relation to my position vis-a-vis the state, however, I did, as it happens, actually build a business. So to President Obama (who was neither taken out of context nor misquoted) I say: ‘I did build it, thank you very much,’ although as a Christian I more correctly say ‘I did build it by the grace of God.’

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