Pride Destroys, Meekness Saves
HAUGHTINESS is hated by Jehovah and pride is an offense against God. Proud ones rely on self rather than Jehovah, lacking humility, not appreciating their dependence on their Creator. They proudly feel they possess superior wisdom, and may have natural abilities above the average. But what is the source of true wisdom? Where did they get their natural abilities? Is not man indebted to the Creator for all good things? Is not Jehovah the Giver of all good gifts? What does a man have that he did not receive? Why should a man be proud in himself? The earth he stands on, the food he eats, the air he breathes—were not these things provided by the Creator of the universe? Man depends on these provisions to maintain existence, and his very existence depends on Jehovah. With lucid logic Paul inquires: “You may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other. For who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Haughty pride and aloofness in a spirit of self-sufficiency is an offense against Jehovah God.—1 Cor. 4:6, 7, NW.
Many persons are proud but few will admit it. They will make the general admission that they make mistakes, knowing how conceited they would appear if they claimed infallibility. But to make them acknowledge a specific wrong is far more difficult. The broad, general admission they will make for it pins nothing definite on them, but they are loath to admit a specific error, as that would be a direct blow to their pride. Even when they know they cannot defend their position pride makes them angrily cling to it. The longer they cling to the position the more difficult it becomes to abandon it gracefully. The proud one’s mental state then fits the description: “His mind hardened in pride.” (Dan. 5:20) In this hardened state his reasoning faculties are frozen. He does not claim infallibility but he acts as though he had it.
Pride is specially prone to flourish in the field of religion. Few choose their own religion on the basis of searching Bible study. They inherit it from their parents, or acquire it from their neighbors, or absorb it from their friends, or adopt it for business advantage. Once having committed themselves they are balky about changing. Pride is quick to protest any admission of error. To change would be to say their parents were wrong, or their neighbors, or their circle of friends, or their business associates. So they cling to their religion, too prejudiced to examine its teachings in the light of the Bible, too proud to acknowledge the possibility of wrong, too hardened in pride to consider a change, and many times too indifferent to care. They think that to change would make them lose face. They forget that refusal will make them lose life.
Many will argue politics or debate economics, but it is their policy never to discuss religion. Why? They say the subject is too charged with emotion. But are not the political discussions they indulge in explosive, loaded with emotional dynamite? They have their opinions, based on study and experience, and those opinions they are determined to air, though it generates emotional heat and controversy. Then why do they balk at airing their religious views? Often because they are uninformed. Some do not even know clearly what their religion teaches, and those who do have no knowledge of Bible texts to prove these teachings. Not knowing the Bible that is supposedly the basis of their belief, not knowing scriptures to prove their creed, and knowing none to refute opposing creeds, they are woefully vulnerable in religious discussions. Their pride would be an open target for many wounds, so they protect it behind a barricade of silence, with their policy not to discuss religion. Without knowledge they could only argue emotionally, with feelings of frustration. Be assured that if they knew their religion’s doctrines and could support them Scripturally they would not remain mute to spare emotions. Intelligent religious discussion, based on Jehovah’s Word, is vital. If the mind is open, not sealed off by prejudice; if reason has full play, not killed by foolish pride; if the Bible is taken as the authority, not nullified by human creedal traditions, then emotion remains subordinate to logic and correct conclusions based on the Bible will be the result.
The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were willing to discuss religion as long as they thought they could win an argument. When they learned they always lost they decided not to discuss religion. This was shown after the Pharisees experienced a losing encounter with Jesus: “And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him, nor did anyone dare from that day on to question him any further.” Many questioned him in meekness to learn, but the proud ones stopped their antagonistic questioning after learning it backfired on them, to the injury of their pride. They were not interested in learning the truth; they only wanted to win an argument. If they could not defend their belief they would not discuss their belief. When one of Jehovah’s servants proved religious enemies wrong they “cried out at the top of the voice and put their hands over their ears and rushed upon him with one accord.” (Matt. 22:46; Acts 7:57, NW) They could not hear the truth and refute it, they refused to hear it and accept it, so they stopped their ears against it and killed the one preaching it. So it is now. The proud argue with open mouth and closed mind.
PRIDE BRINGS CONTENTION AND DISGRACE
Because of this contention continues: “By pride cometh only contention; but with the well-advised is wisdom.” The proud refuse to be advised and corrected and let a quarrel end against them. They reject the truth: “In an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Also, “Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” If one is not wise enough to heed good counsel, not meek enough to take good advice, sound conclusions are not reached and strife continues because of proud resistance to logic. There is no safety in such pride or success in such haughtiness, but only disastrous downfall: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Where pride goes destruction follows. Where haughtiness leads a fall is not far behind.—Prov. 13:10, AS; Pr 11:14; 15:22; 16:18, RS.
Pride brings not only contention but disgrace: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.” The proud are cocksure, convinced they are right, unwilling to consider contrary views. Refusing to think they might be wrong, they direct all their thinking toward justifying themselves rather than examining themselves. What supports their side they gullibly grab, what opposes their position they arbitrarily reject. Disgrace comes when they are proved wrong, though even then pride may harden them till they refuse to face the disgrace and change. And when this pride is exercised relative to choosing the right religion, and erring proud ones refuse to reason, destruction follows. Their pride brings blindness, blindness to reason. Refusing to acknowledge wrong, they are not amenable to corrective reproof: “The commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” Undisciplined, the proud continue in the way of destruction and miss the way to life. Hence it is written: “A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”—Prov. 11:2; 6:23; 29:23, RS.
Not only do the proud resist Jehovah, but Jehovah resists the proud, while lifting up the lowly: “All of you gird yourselves with humility of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones. Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Jesus announced the same divine rule, after exposing religious leaders who assumed exalting titles: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” At Armageddon self-exalted proud ones will be brought low, even down to dust in destruction. On the other hand, the lowly will be raised up and preserved because of their meekness. Hence the divine counsel is: “Seek ye Jehovah, all ye meek of the earth, that have kept his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye will be hid in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—1 Pet. 5:5, 6; Matt. 23:12, NW; Zeph. 2:3, AS.
MEEKNESS MEANS SALVATION
Just as with pride come contention and quarrelsomeness, so with meekness come peace and reasonableness. Meek ones value the wisdom from above rather than the wisdom of this proud world. Since they are receptive to divine guidance, Jehovah does not hold back: “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” Again, “He will beautify the meek with salvation.” It is Jehovah’s purpose to “preach good tidings unto the meek.” You are counseled to be meek, so that you can “accept with mildness the implanting of the word which is able to save your souls.” Pride is unreceptive to the seed of truth, but meekness is like the good soil that receives it and produces more.—Ps. 25:9; 149:4; Isa. 61:1; Jas. 1:21, NW.
Note why Jehovah chooses to favor the meek over the proud: “For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” (1 Cor. 1:26-29, NW) The proud are so busy reflecting their own supposed glory they have no time to reflect Jehovah’s. But the meek ones despised by the proud are fit for Jehovah’s use and exalted by receiving a share in his service. This reversal of matters constitutes a rebuke to the worldly-wise.
Those hardened in their pride would not be pliable to Jehovah’s purposes in the new world of righteousness, any more than they are now. They would be misfits, troublemakers, causing affliction to rise again, whereas Jehovah will not permit such a rise of affliction to mar the peace of new-world living. (Nah. 1:9) To prove we shall be meek then we must show meekness now. We must listen to Jehovah’s truth, be corrected by it, and dutifully declare it. It is not a matter of proving yourself right and another wrong, but of letting God’s Word stand as true, even if it makes your former beliefs false. (Rom. 3:4) Though the proud may, the meek must not spurn the invitation to be reasonable: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Now is the time to reason with Jehovah by meekly studying his Word. To refuse in pride will mean to die in disgrace.—Isa. 1:18, AS.
NO CAUSE FOR HURT PRIDE
It is better for pride to be injured than for life to be ended. It may hurt pride to change your religion. It may wound it to have to admit to another that you are wrong. Actually, there should be no injured feeling at all. It is not a case of acknowledging another person as more intelligent, for it is not another person’s thoughts you are accepting to replace your own. If by reasoning on Jehovah’s Word you learn your beliefs are false, they were proved so, not by the thoughts of other men, but by the recorded, inspired thoughts of Jehovah God. Will you not readily admit that the divine mind of Jehovah, the one who created the entire universe, is immeasurably higher than yours? Is it a reflection on yours to be corrected by his? Need any pride be injured when we allow Jehovah’s wisdom to replace human folly? Rather than pout in childish pride, should we not rejoice in meek gratitude that we can find him, call upon him, return to him, be pardoned by him? Listen: “Seek ye Jehovah while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isa. 55:6-9, AS.
Now is the time to seek Jehovah, while he may yet be found. Now he is near to accept us. At Armageddon he will draw near to destroy those that refuse to reason on his Word now. The wicked should forsake their ways, the proud should abandon their thoughts. All should turn to Jehovah, to his ways, to his thoughts, that they may be pardoned and live forever. It should not hurt human pride to turn to ways admittedly higher than man’s ways and to thoughts admittedly higher than man’s thoughts. If any has such a hardened pride that it prevents acceptance of Jehovah’s wisdom in order to retain human thoughts, that one is foolish indeed! Rightly so, the pride of the proud will lead them to destruction at Armageddon. And the meekness of the meek will save them to life in Jehovah’s new world.