BEWARE of DEVELOPING
a HAUGHTY HEART.
“God opposes the haughty ones.”
H AS SOME EVENT EVER CAUSED YOUR HEART TO SWELL WITH PRIDE? Most of us have experienced that pleasurable sensation. Our capacity for feeling a measure of pride is not bad. For example, when a Christian couple read a school report about their daughter’s [son’s] good behavior and hard work, their faces likely glow with warm satisfaction over her accompishments. (And rightly so.) The apostle Paul and his companions took pride in a new congregation that they had helped to establish, for the brothers faithfully endured persecution.—1 Thessalon-ians 1:1, 6; 2:19, 20; 2 ‘Fhessalonians 1:1, 4.
From the foregoing examples, we can see that pride may imply a sense of delight that comes from some act or possession. Frequently, though, pride reflects unseemly self-esteem, a feeling of superiority because of one’s abilities, appearance, rank, or wealth. It is often displayed in arrogance of demeanor, a haughty bearing. Such pride is definitely something that we as Christians should guard against. Why? Because we have an inborn tendency to selfishness that we inherited from our forefather Adam. (Genesis 8:21) As a result, our hearts can easily mislead us into feeling proud for the wrong reasons. For instance, Christians must resist feeling pride over race, wealth, education, natural abilities, or work performance in comparison with others . Pride that arises from such things is improper and is displeasing to Jehovah.—Jeremiah 9:23; Acts 10:34, 35; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Galatians 5:26; 6:3, 4.
There is another reason for rejecting improper pride, If we allow such to grow in our heart, it can develop into a very despicable form of pride called haughtiness. What is haughtiness? In addition to feeling superior, a haughty person looks down on others, those whom he or she views as inferior . (Luke 18:9; John 7:47-49) Jesus listed “haughtiness” along with. other wicked traits that come. “out of the heart” and “defile a man.” (Mark 7:20-23) Christians can see how vital it is to avoid developing a haughty heart. You can be helped to avoid haughtiness by considering some Bible accounts of haughty ones. You will thus be in a better position to detect improper feelings of pride that might reside within you or that may develop in time. This will help you to reject thoughts or feelings that could lead to a haughty heart. As a result, you will not be affected negatively when God acts in line with his warning: “I shall remove from the midst of you your haughtily exultant ones; and you will never again be haughty in my holy mountain.” —Zephaniah 3:11.
GOD DEALS WITH HAUGHTY ONES
You can also see Jehovah’s view of haughtiness in the way he dealt with such powerful rulers as Pharaoh. There can be no doubt that Pharaoh had a big, haughty heart. Viewing himself as a god to be worshipped, he despised his slaves, the Israel -ites. Consider his reaction to the request that Israel be allowed to go into the wilder -ness to “celebrate a festival” to Jehovah. “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away?” was Pharaoh’s haughty reply.—Exodus 5:1, 2.
After Pharaoh had experienced six plagues, Jehovah told Moses to ask Egypt’s ruler: “Are you still behaving haughtily against my people in not sending them away?” (Exodus 9:17) Moses now announced the seventh plague —hail that devastated the land . Once the Israelites were free to leave after the tenth plague, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them. Finally, Pharaoh and his armies were trapped in the Red Sea. Imagine what they must have thought as the waters closed in upon them! What was the fruitage of Pharaoh’s haughtiness? His elite troops said: “Let us flee from any contact with Israel, because Jehovah certainly fights for them against the Egyptians.” —Exodus 14:25.
Humiliation at Jehovah’s hand also came to other haughty rulers . One such as Sennacherib, king of Assyria. (Isaiah 36:1-4, 20; 37:36-38) Eventually, Assyria was conquered by the Babylonians, but two haughty Babylonian kings were then humiliated too. Recall the feast that King Belshazzar had during which he and his royal guests drank wine out of vessels taken from Jehovah’s temple, praising Babylon’s gods. Suddenly, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall. Asked to explain the mysterious writing, the prophet Daniel reminded Belshazzar: “The Most High God himself gave to Nebuchadnezzar, your father the kingdom........ But when his heart became haughty.....he was brought down from the throne of his kingdom, and his own dignity was taken away from him...... As for you, his son Belshazzar, you have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.” (Daniel 5:3, 18, 20, 22) That very night, the Medo-Persian army con-quered Babylon, and Belshazzar was killed.—Daniel 5:30, 31.
Think, too, of other haughty men who despised Jehovah’s people: the Philistine giant Goliath, the Persian Prime Minister Haman, and King Herod Agrippa, who ruled the province of Judaea. Because of their haughtiness, those three men suffered a humiliating death at God’s hand. (1 Samuel 17:42-51; Esther 3:5, 6; 7:10; Acts 12:1-3, 21-23) How Jehovah dealt with those haughty men underlines this truth: “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18) Indeed, there can be no doubt that “God opposes the haughty ones.” —James 4:6.
In contrast with the haughty rulers of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, the king of Tyre at one time proved helpful to God’s people. During the reigns of Kings David and Solomon, he provided skilled craftsmen and materials for royal buildings and for God’s temple . (2 Samuel 5:11; 2 Chronicles 2:11-16) Sadly, in time, the Tyrians turned against Jehovah’s people. What caused that development?—Psalm 83:3-7; Joel 3:4-6; Amos 1:9, 10.
“YOUR HEART BECAME HAUGHTY”
“Jehovah inspired his prophet Ezekiel to expose and condemn Tyre’s dynasty of kings. That message addressed to “the king of Tyre” contains expressions that fit both the Tyrian dynasty and the original traitor, Satan, who “did not stand fast in the truth.” (Ezekiel 28:12; John 8:44) Satan was once a loyal spirit creature in Jehovah’s organization of heavenly sons. Jehovah God gave indication through Ezekiel of the basic cause of the defection of both the Tyrian dynasty and Satan:
“In Eden, the garden of God, you proved to be. Every precious stone was your covering..... You are the anointed cherub that is covering...... You were faultless in your ways from the day of your being created until unrighteousness was found in you. Because of the abundance of your sales goods they filled the midst of you with violence, and you began to sin. And I shall...... . destroy you, O cherub that is covering...... Your heart became haughty because of your beauty. You brought your wisdom to ruin on account of your beaming splendor.” (Ezekiel 28:13-17) Yes, haughtiness moved lyre’s kings to violence against Jehovah’s people. lyre became exceedingly wealthy as a commercial center and famous for its beautiful products. (Isaiah 23:8, 9) lyre’s kings came to think too much of themselves, and they began to oppress God’s people.
Similarly, the spirit creature who became Satan once had the wisdom needed to fulfill any assignment God gave him. Instead of being thankful, he became “puffed up with pride” and began to despise God’s way of ruling. (1 Timothy 3:6) He then thought so much of himself that he began to crave the worship of Adam and Eve. This wicked desire became fertile and gave birth to sin. (James 1:14, 15) Satan seduced Eve into eating the fruit of the only tree that God had ruled out. Then, Satan used her to get Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:1-6) Thus the first human pair rejected God’s right to rule over them and, in effect, became worshippers of Satan. His haughtiness knows no bounds. He has tried to seduce all intelligent creatures in heaven and on earth, including Jesus Christ, into worshipping him in rejection of Jehovah’s sovereignty.—Matthew 4: 8-10; Revelation 12:3, 4, 9.
You can thus see that haughtiness originates with Satan; it is the basic cause of sin, suffering, and corruption in the world today. As “god of this system of things,” Satan continues to promote improper feelings of pride and haughtiness. (2 Corinthians 4:4) He knows that his time is short, so he wages war against true Christ-ians. His goal is to turn them away from God, to become lovers of themselves, self- assuming, and haughty. The Bible foretold that such selfish traits would be common in these “last days. —2 Timothy 3:1, 2, footnote; Revelation 12: 12, 17.
“For his part, Jesus Christ boldly exposed the rotten fruitage caused by Satan’s haughtiness. On at least three occasions and in the presence of self-righteous enemies, Jesus laid down the rule by which Jehovah deals with mankind: “Everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.”—Luke 14:11; 18:14; Matthew 23:12.
GUARD YOUR HEART
“You may have noted that the examples of haughtiness mentioned above involved prominent men. Does that mean that ordinary people are not prone to becoming haughty? Definitely not. Consider an incident that occurred in Abraham’s household. The patriarch had no son to be his heir, and his wife, Sarah, was beyond the age of child-bearing . It was customary for a man in Abraham’s situation to take a second wife and have children. God tolerated such marriages because it was not yet his time to reestablish his original standard of marriage among true worshippers. —Matthew 19:3-9.
At his wife’s urging, Abraham agreed to produce a potential heir through Sarah’s Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. As a secondary wife of Abraham, Hagar became pregnant. She should have been deeply grateful for her honored status. Instead, she allowed her heart to become haughty. The Bible relates: “When she became aware that she was pregnant, then her mistress began to be despised in her eyes.” That attitude caused such strife in Abraham’s household that Sarah chased Hagar away. But there was a solution to the problem. God’s angel counseled Hagar: “Return to your mistress and humble yourself under her hand.” (Genesis 16:4,9) Evidently, Hagar followed this counsel, adjusted her attitude toward Sarah, and became ancestress to a multitude.
The case of Hagar illustrates that when someone’s situation changes for the better, haughtiness may result. The lesson is that even a Christian who has shown a good heart in serving God can become haughty upon gaining wealth or authority. That attitude can also develop if others praise him for his success, wisdom, or ability. Yes, a Christian should be alert to keep haughtiness out of his heart. That is especially true if he achieves success or receives more responsibility.
The most powerful reason for avoiding haughtiness is God’s view of this trait. His Word states: “Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart, the lamp of the wicked ones, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4) Interestingly, the Bible in particular warns Christians “who are rich in the present system of things” not to be “high-minded,” or “haughty.” (1 Timothy 6: 17~ footnote; Deuteronomy 8:11-17) Those Christians who are not rich should avoid having “an envious eye,” and they should remember that haughtiness can develop in anyone—rich or poor.—Mark 7:21-23; James 4:5.
Haughtiness along with other wicked traits can ruin a good relationship with Jehovah. Consider, for example, the first part of King Uzziah’s reign: “He kept doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes... ... And he continually tended to search for God . .... . ; and, in the days of his searching for Jehovah, the true God made him prosp-erous.” (2 Chronicles 26:4, 5) Sadly, though, King Uzziah spoiled his good record, for “his heart became haughty even to the point of causing ruin .” He came to think so much of himself that he entered the temple to offer up incense. When the priests warned him not to commit this presumptuous act, “Uzziah became enraged.” As a result, Jehovah struck him with leprosy, and he died in God’s disfavor.—2 Chronicles 26:16-21.
You can contrast that with the example of King Hezekiah . On one occasion, that king’s excellent record was in danger of being spoiled because “his heart became haughty.” Happily, “Hezekiah humbled himself for the haughtiness of his heart” and regained God’s favor. (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26) Notice that the cure for Hezekiah’s haughtiness was humility. Yes, humility is the opposite of haughtiness.
May we not forget, though, all the bad fruitage that has been produced by haughtiness. Since “God opposes the haughty ones,” let us be firmly resolved to reject feelings of improper pride . As we strive to be humble Christians, we can look forward to surviving God’s great day, when haughty ones and their fruitage will be removed from the earth . Then “the haughtiness of the earthling man must bow down, and the loftiness of men must become low; and Jehovah alone must be put on high in that day.” —Isaiah 2:17.
October 15, 2005. (Pgs. 21-25)
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993