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Choosing Humility over Pride

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.
–Proverbs 16:18

I love the well-known story, perhaps apocryphal, about former senator Bill Bradley. He was having dinner at an upscale restaurant, and the waiter served rolls, but there was no butter. So Bradley said, “May I have two pats of butter, please?” The waiter slightly nodded, affirming he had heard the request. Ten minutes passed. No butter. So Bradley again politely said, “Could we please have some butter?” Again, the waiter nodded. Ten minutes passed. No butter. Finally, Bill Bradley had had enough, and he gave the waiter a piece of his mind he really couldn’t afford to lose. He said, “I don’t think you know who I am. I’m Bill Bradley, the Rhodes scholar, professional basketball player, world champion, and United States senator.” The waiter responded, “Perhaps you don’t know who I am. I’m the guy who’s in charge of the butter.”

Every now and then, we need somebody like that to bring us back to reality, don’t we? We need to remember who we really are. We have been looking at eleven essential biblical attitudes that we have to embrace if we are going to enjoy the abundant life Jesus promised us. One common circumstance we all face in life is how we are going to respond to our successes and to our failures. We can either respond with pride, or we can respond with humility. This week, we are going to talk about the importance of choosing humility over pride.

It might be helpful to first of all look briefly at what the Bible says about both humility and pride. And for starters, let’s consider some definitions. What is pride? Very simply, pride is an attitude that causes us to credit others for our successes and blame others for our failures. On the other hand, humility is an attitude that views both our accomplishments and our failures from God’s perspective.

Over and over again, the Bible warns against the dangers of pride. For example, Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” Or Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” And James 4:6 puts it like this: “God is opposed to the proud.” If you want to know how to get on God’s bad side, just be prideful. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (v. 6).

In contrast to that, look at what the Bible says about humility. Consider the value, the premium, that God places on humility. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 16:19 says, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” And in Matthew 23:12, Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Purpose over Aimlessness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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