Pride Comes Before a Fall

Credit: David Lazar

The title of this post is a common saying. It’s so common that a lot of people don’t know that it’s from the Bible (Proverbs 16:18). For instance, this online dictionary doesn’t mention any biblical source: It’s merely referred to as an idiom in the English language.

All of the verses in the Book of Proverbs are awesome, and we need to apply them to our lives. However, verse 18 of chapter 16 (“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”) is one that I consider extremely important — a key in maintaining my faith and humility in order to stay close to God.

A minister at a certain Protestant-based church that I used to attend taught me the acronym KISS. No, the minister wasn’t a fan of the rock group of the same name (at least not that I knew of). It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” Now, stupid isn’t a very polite word. We don’t let our kids say it. However, I’ve heard variations of it at work and even in my parish such as “keep it simple, silly” or “keep it short and simple.” (The latter sort of adds more meaning to it, so I don’t particularly like that one. But if you do, then that’s totally cool.)

I’m mentioning all this because “pride comes before a fall” is one of those wise sayings in the Bible that is in line with the KISS philosophy. And, wouldn’t you know it, those are the things that I tend to forget all about when push comes to shove in my spiritual life.

I’ve been doing well (i.e. abstaining from mortal sin, praying, going to Mass every Sunday, et cetera). So well that I actually thought that I was invincible against certain types of sin: lust, anger, and gossip to name a few.

I was under an illusion. The Evil One is always at work, scheming up ways to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). Spiritual warfare rages on every day, every hour, every minute. Angels and demons are going head-to-head right now all around me as I type (and all around you as you’re reading). This Present Darkness is a good book that illustrates this biblical concept.

I’ve finished the first week of the fall semester at my job, and, while it was hectic, things went fairly well. I didn’t realize that my prayer time was going downhill. I had been praying a little less than usual, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was still in the mindset, though, that I was winning the battle against the darkness; never mind the fact that I was becoming more susceptible to temptation and outright sin.

If you’ve kept up with my posts, you’ll know that my wife is basically a non-practicing Buddhist/Shintoist (I’ll let you think on that for a second). She’s cool with my being Catholic. The only issue that we stay away from is abortion; although we agree to disagree on this subject, it still comes up from time to time. So, like the bumper sticker says, we “coexist.”

Anyway, we were driving to the park this morning, and my wife, Ayako, was telling me about a recent situation she had with a Christian friend named Molly. They were standing near a pond, and Molly told her son to get away from the edge because she didn’t want him to fall in. Her son said, “I won’t fall in.”

Ayako tried to remember what Molly said in reply. “She said something like ‘If you’re too confident, you’ll fall in too easily’ I think.”

After a moment, I said, “Oh, you mean ‘pride comes before a fall.'”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Because it’s from the Bible. It’s really famous.” I changed the subject to something else, quickly forgetting about that verse from Proverbs.

Little did I know that God was giving me one last chance to repent before He would humble me.

Sure enough, later in the day, my house of cards collapsed. I found myself plunged into various types of sin that, just a week ago, thought that I was above and too good for.

Broken and troubled, I turned to prayer. Not the superficial kind that I had been practicing, but the real, honest, gut-check kind.

I heard God’s whisper in my heart almost immediately: Pride comes before a fall.

Boy, does it.

How could I have been so bone-headed?

Because you’re human. Now get back up and continue the race.

I felt like I had finally pulled my head out of the ground where it had been stuck for the past few weeks. What an amazing feeling.

It’s even more amazing to be reminded about God’s love for us. He was giving me signs that I thought didn’t pertain to me. He allowed me to fall in order for me to learn my lesson. When I came to my senses, God was waiting with open arms.

In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus tells how God will always forgive us, no matter how badly we mess up (Luke 15:11-32). After the son squanders his inheritance and reaches rock bottom, he decides to go back to his father:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

~t

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About Topaz

I'm a college teacher, writer, and faithful Catholic. I do my best to juggle all of these while dealing with my mental illness -- a constant thorn in my flesh. View all posts by Topaz

3 responses to “Pride Comes Before a Fall

  • Food For The Journey

    I think that so much of my depression has been over the battle of sin. That whole cycle of temptation–desire–arousal–sin–remorse–repentance, is so exhausting and discouraging!! But hearing you being so upfront about your own battle encourages me to keep getting up and going again. BTW, that picture is adorable!

    • Topaz

      I can totally relate. The cycle that you mentioned is one that I was trapped inside my whole life. Only recently have I begun to break the cycle, but that is due to my decision to give my whole being over to God.

      I honestly didn’t think it would ever be possible for me to break free from lust and sexual temptation. The reason that I fell recently was because I put myself in a situation that instantly led me to strong temptation.

      This past week I kept reminding myself, “You’re playing with fire, Topaz, and you will eventually get burned.” Being an idiot, I thought that I had become immune to the resulting sin. I was so wrong.

      About the pic, as I looked at it in full size, I started wondering if it had been photoshopped. Both adult lions look almost exactly the same! 🙂

  • Steve Finnell

    PRIDE IS THE ERADICATOR OF INTELLECT

    Pride can cause you to appear intellectually challenged. The devil had a pride problem. The devil knew that Jesus was God in the flesh, and he still tried to tempt Jesus to sin. [Matthew 4:1-11]

    PRIDE CAN CAUSE YOU TO APPEAR INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED.

    Pride destroys the faculty for understanding.

    Pride hinders the power of discernment.

    Pride is a road-block to clear thinking.

    Pride clouds our judgment.

    Pride restricts our comprehension.

    Pride causes us to think we are smarter than God.

    Pride opens the avenue for us to believe man-made doctrine.

    2 Peter 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things , in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    Pride renders men unteachable and unstable and causes them to distort the truth, and believe the false doctrine of others, to their own destruction.

    When we study God’s word relying on our own understanding; rather than asking God to show us HIS truth we become a victim of are own pride.

    Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

    DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN EYES.

    PRIDE IS THE ERADICATOR OF INTELLECT!

    (All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

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