I remember the last time I took a trip. No, not the suitcase type – the base over apex, hole in the knee type. What was the first thing I did? Was it to look at my wounds, make sure I had no broken bones, check over my clothing for tears? No! The first thing I did, like everyone else on the planet, was to look around and see if anyone had seen me! Is there anything more humiliating??? Falling over as an adult is one thing, but being SEEN doing it, is way something else. Yet toddlers do it all the time – oops, bump, roll and they’re up again. Might be a tear, might be a giggle, but an audience makes it so much better either way. Of course, adult bones are more brittle than children’s, but that’s not the point. It’s our PRIDE that takes the biggest tumble.
And that was the problem for Pharaoh (Exodus 10:3-12). He was big in Egypt: the top guy. How could he be seen to take a tumble, and let Moses get the upper hand? So God’s message to him was, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” Oh, and tumbling he was. Up to now he’d been the one doing all the talking, making all the decisions; but now his officials were getting uppity, butting it, giving advice, asking him to think again (v7). Yet still his pride and arrogance caused him to hold out, bringing ruin and devastation to his country and his own people.
Pride has such a powerful hold over us. It may cause us to say things or make decisions that are not even in own interest. It creates barriers between people and impoverishes relationships. It denies us help when we need it. It makes us our own worst enemy; it has us do stupid things, say hard words, make bad decisions; yet persuades us we are doing ‘the right thing’.
We so need to check out our motives when things are going awry. No wonder Jesus said we need to change and become like children (Matthew 18:3-4). “Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” So humility makes you great. It takes a ‘big’ person to admit they are wrong, to recognise that relationships are more important than rights. The way of humility might mean losing face, but those who take that route are the biggest people in God’s kingdom.