The Deadly Sin

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I once corrected a now internationally famous Biblical scholar (he will remain nameless) when he misquoted this verse. It was mean of me—one of those temptations that I should have been able to resist, but chose not to!

All that is neither here nor there as they say.

The verse from Proverbs 16:18 is well-known: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

This is an example of parallelism, where the second phrase is another way of saying the first phrase. In essence, though the verse was misquoted by my eminent friend, what he said was something like a contraction of the original.

But aside from my secret (now not so secret) delight is getting “one up” on someone eons smarter than me, this verse reminds us of the very danger I succumbed to in taking pleasure in correcting him—pride.

We often don’t recognize pride for what it is. We attach friendly meanings to it, but it is what it is. I found it interesting that my dictionary actually misquoted the verse too. At the same time, it attached an explanation of it that needs to be duly noted: “pride goes (or comes) before a fall: proverb if you're too conceited or self-important, something will happen to make you look foolish.”

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!

We often “correct” others, judge others, put others down (whether subtly or decisively), because of pride. It makes us feel better about ourselves We hope that such words and actions cover up our own insecurities but in truth, they actually reveal them. If we have to cut someone else down to feel good about ourselves, then it is likely that the other person is not the one with the more serious problem.

But the truth of the proverbs is this: God will find a way to expose our foolishness.

I say this because I almost threw away a career because spiritual pride caused me to become judge, jury and executioner in my relationship with my colleagues. I know now destructive pride can be. Providentially, the Spirit of God revealed my sin to me and set me on a path of reconciliation and forgiveness.

He corrected me from a sin far greater than the imagined “sin” of a misquoted verse.

It was a lesson not soon forgotten.

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