The Bible has a lot to say about pride and humility. Perhaps the most succinct verse about this is found in I Peter 5:5 where we are invited to “clothe ourselves with humility… for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
This same basic verse about pride and humility is repeated in the Psalms, Proverbs, the gospels, and James. It is an overarching principle throughout Scripture. What that should tell us is that this subject is an extremely important truth for us to understand and apply to our lives. If we want the grace of God in our lives, His salvation, His favor and His blessing, than we need to understand what humility is.
On the other hand, pride is a choice Scripture tells us that stands in opposition to God. Since God created everything and holds in His hands our eternal destiny, choosing a path of opposition to God is the height of absurdity. Yet we know many choose to remain proud, despite the warnings from God’s word.
But what is pride and humility? The pride the Bible is talking about here is not about the joyful feeling we get when we have accomplished something good, but rather it is talking about having such a high opinion about ourselves, that it places us at the center of the universe and God on the periphery.
Humility is a realistic view of ourselves in relationship to who God is. It understands that ultimately we are dependent on Him for everything and will one day stand before Him and give an account. Humility acknowledges God for who He is and understands who we are in relationship to who He is.
In our text this week from in Mark 9:30-37, we are presented with two pictures that can help us better understand what God is saying about pride and humility. The first picture is that of the disciples, who we discover were arguing with one another about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:34). We see that from their ignorance about who God is (vs. 30-33), they succumbed to a higher view of who they were.
Jesus the great teacher isn’t going to allow them to stay in that posture very long. Because they were His followers, Jesus would give them a unique lesson that begins with vs. 35, where He tells them that the greatest in God’s kingdom would be “servant of all.”
To demonstrate this principle, Christ takes “a child in his arms,” places him in the middle of them and teaches them that greatness is revealed in our willingness to receive, serve and learn from even a little child. (vs. 36) It was a tremendous rebuke to the disciple’s pride that did not see a cross, but saw Jesus as a future powerful ruler over Israel with themselves as His kingpins.
We will learn two basic truths from this passage this week. First , we will try to understand what is pride is and its danger to our spiritual health. Then we will try to better understand what humility is and why God places such a high value on it.
So let us prepare our hearts and remember the Psalmist exhortation that tells us that “though the Lord is on high, He regards the lowly or humble, but the haughty or proud He knows from afar.” (Ps 138:6)