Often times, we hear the words “proud” or “humble” and certain images come to mind. We might picture proud as someone who flaunts his looks, her intellect, or her stature. We might imagine an athlete that earned a gold medal or a businessman that closed a deal. At the same time, we may consider “humble” and imagine an employee like a housekeeper, a janitor, or even a seamstress. These images are helpful only if they lead us to truth and deeper understanding.
I have known leaders that were rejected “flat out” because they walked with great confidence or spoke with authority. Their image conjured up in the minds of others that they might be prideful or lack necessary humility. At the same time, I have seen some leaders who would accept no counsel and believed that it was “their way or the highway” that carried themselves with a quiet disposition.
In reality, that is being judged here are people skills. A smarter person might look to see how he is perceived by an audience and seek to adjust his image to be seen as he desire.
My point…neither of these image categories speaks of biblical wisdom or biblical pride. Solomon wrote in 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” In this verse he is speaking about a journey of becoming, not a status. (He is prideful, she is humble.) He is speaking of our prideful or humble approach or response to God’s counsel.
Another way of speaking of this might be to use the word “teachable.” A Teachable person realizes that while she has confidence, she can still learn and that the best approach to life is to follow after the Lord. THis person is teachable. She seeks truth and wisdom in the Word of God. She searches her heart. She prays for God’s illumination of her own motives which exist in the darkest recesses of her inner soul. She sensitively seeks to know and do the will of God. She is humble. She may be a CEO of a large corporation, a teaching professor at a major institution, or a political representative making policies that affect millions…but she is humble.
The contrast becomes clear when we recognize that the unteachable man, the man full of pride, believes that he has learned what he must know. He points to the past or the present as the template for action. He relies on his experience because he has already crossed that bridge and now doesn’t need to revisit. He assumes that he has no impure motives and that he has correct knowledge of God’s will. In his mind, since he identifies as a Christian, whatever he does must already be the will of God. This man is a FOOL and is eaten up with pride…even if he is a housekeeper or if he speaks in the meekest of voices.
It is time for Christians to recognize the difference, lest we fall prey to the snare of the enemy. Just because someone smiles a lot and says encouraging things does not make him a humble person. He might just be the smartest wolf dressed as a sheep you will ever meet…and the last one you meet.