Pride. “It parks your Cadillac in front of the church and hides your jalopy in the back,” a preacher once said. In other words, it can sneak into our lives disguised as humility. The pride that demands center stage is the same pride that keeps a person hiding in the shadows. “She never wants any attention,” someone may point out, but if that person is standing on the sidelines because of fear of failure, then the motivating culprit could be pride.
Pride is a hang-up that cripples a person. I know because I’ve experienced its symptoms. Pride works in tandem with fear, and their fruit look suspiciously like insecurity, inferiority, self-sufficiency, self-incrimination, self-justification, self-righteousness, selfishness (note all the attention to self), criticism, judgment, worry, anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, rebellion, indecision…..Must I continue?
Pride keeps us focused on ourselves whether that focus is to flaunt our virtues or hide our deficiencies. But the Bible gives us a healing remedy: love and serve God; love and serve others. When we transfer our worship to God and our concern to others, we loose the stronghold of pride. Our insecurities and fears must bow to the Word that promises, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Self-exaltation disintegrates with the Biblical proclamation that “…the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Like the riddle declares, pride can swallow us. But we have to take its bait. By the same token, like the riddle suggests, we can do the swallowing. Swallowing pride sometimes means submitting to someone else or preferring another person over ourselves. It can look like forgiveness or tucking away our rights when we’ve been wronged. But swallowing our pride can also mean wiping our sweaty palms on our denim-clad thighs and taking a challenge.
Either way, once the bitterness of pride is swallowed, a pleasant taste is left behind. And that looks a lot like “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” and “the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth,” and “…ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,” and “how sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” We can’t chew on these promises if our mouths are full of pride, but when we swallow it, we find that doing so has been worth the gulp.