Read: Exodus 8:20 – 9:35
Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go. Exodus 8:30-32
Pride is a dangerous thing. It makes sense that pride would be an issue for Pharaoh. He had lived a life where he was treated and worshipped as a god himself. And now the god of his slaves was telling HIM what to do? And Moses, the man he used to know as brother, who had betrayed his family was telling him what to do? I don’t think so. Pharaoh certainly didn’t think so!
As we read these verses with our hindsight 20/20 vision we can clearly see that Pharaoh was being selfish, prideful and just plain stubborn. Over and over again, God brought significant suffering to show he meant business and again and again Pharaoh turned his back on an all-powerful God. He hardened his heart.
Pride is a powerful thing and has been a part of sin from the very beginning. Satan became a fallen angel because of his desire to be like God – his pride. And he uses it to tempt all of us to put our own interests before God’s.
It is easy to see Pharaoh’s interests were winning out in his mind. After all, he had a kingdom to run, pyramids to build and wealth to preserve. He was in control and would not let anyone else’s needs or wants take priority over his.
Unfortunately, pride can be as obvious as it is in Pharaoh’s case or sneaky and quiet in the lives of us as believers. We tell ourselves, we don’t have time for quiet times or time for church because we have families to run, careers to build and comfort to preserve (ie. sleep). Most of those excuses can find their way back to pride. No matter what our mouths say, if our own interests are more important than God’s, we are living as if WE are more important than God.
Not responding to God’s nudging to share your faith with others because you don’t want to seem weird is pride at its core. Stubbornly refusing to forgive someone can often be traced back to pride. Or just plain ignoring the presence of God day after day until the obligatory once a week visit to church originates with pride.
We need God. We were made to need God and to be in a relationship with him. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we know what’s best and that we can control our lives. But the truth is we need God. The created needs the Creator. And our Creator warns us of the dangers of pride.
Proverbs 11:2 says
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 and 19 also share these sentiments
18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.
Pharaoh sure could have learned something from the last one. God shows us by the example of Jesus how to really live and what to do with our pride. Jesus had every reason to be the most proud of all. After all, he was with God from the beginning, he never sinned, and had power to defeat death. But this is what Philippians says about Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness,
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Humility is from God. It is a characteristic of Jesus, God in the flesh. Humility is not weakness but it is a right recognition of Who is most important. It is a recognition that God is worthy of first place and that his desires and agendas are worthy of first place. Is pride sneaking in to your life, into your spiritual perspective? Is it impacting the way you view others and the way you view yourself?
Take a lesson from Pharaoh and ask God to keep your heart soft with humility – not hardened with pride.
Lord God, you alone are worthy of praise. You alone are worthy of first place in my life. May there always be an increasing amount of You and a decreasing amount of me. Please warn me if my heart is becoming hard. Soften it with your Spirit so I may hear your will and submit to it in my life. Show me where pride has taken up residence in my life and free me from its grip. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.