September 28, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Pride and Its Destruction”

Jeremiah 50:1-16

This is the word the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians: 2 “Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.’ 3 A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both people and animals will flee away. 4 “In those days, at that time,” declares the Lord, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. 5 They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. 6 “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. 7 Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture, the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.’8 “Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock. 9 For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations from the land of the north. They will take up their positions against her, and from the north she will be captured. Their arrows will be like skilled warriors who do not return empty-handed. 10 So Babylonia will be plundered; all who plunder her will have their fill,” declares the Lord. 11 “Because you rejoice and are glad, you who pillage my inheritance, because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain and neigh like stallions,12  your mother will be greatly ashamed; she who gave you birth will be disgraced. She will be the least of the nations—a wilderness, a dry land, a desert. 13 Because of the Lord’s anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate. All who pass Babylon will be appalled; they will scoff because of all her wounds. 14 “Take up your positions around Babylon, all you who draw the bow. Shoot at her! Spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the Lord. 15 Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the Lord, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others. 16 Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the reaper with his sickle at harvest. Because of the sword of the oppressor let everyone return to their own people, let everyone flee to their own land.

The problem with pride is that it makes us blind to its existence. I experienced this when I moved to New York City four years ago for a new job. Beforehand, I had been working for 2 years and was actively involved in ministry. Thus, I thought I had the “faithful Christian” lifestyle down pat. However, it didn’t take long before trials in corporate culture, church dysfunction and relational conflicts made me realize that I had, and still have, a long way to go.

At its root, pride contains the belief that we can live our lives apart from God, the giver of life. An egregious example was the Tower of Babel, as “they said ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city . . . so that we may make a name for ourselves’” (Gen. 11:4). This spirit of autonomy was also present in Babylon, a civilization that worshipped gods like Bel and Marduk (Jer. 50:2) while taking pride in their accomplishments such as the Hanging Gardens and Hammurabi’s law codes. Thus, God declared that Babylon would be plundered and that “all who plunder her will have their fill” (Jer. 50:10).

In the New Testament, Babylon continues to serve as a symbol of pride, specifically in Revelation 17-18. Depicted as an adulterous woman, Babylon is denounced by God, along with the kings of the earth who committed “adultery with her” and the merchants who “grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev. 18:4). Thus, God pronounced the destruction of Babylon by declaring that He will “give back to her as she has given” (Rev.18:6), just as He declared to ancient Babylon that He would “do to her as she has done to others” (Jer. 50:15).

Ultimately, there are many ways in which the lie of pride can creep into our lives. As many of us do not live paycheck to paycheck (thank the Lord), perhaps we unconsciously trust our wealth to provide the comfort or status we seek. For others, it might be our accomplishments in work or ministry-related successes. Whatever our struggles may be, let us humble ourselves before the Lord to recover the sense of our absolute dependence on God almighty.   

Prayer: Father, it is so easy to embrace the thoughts of this world and believe that I make and control my own destiny. Help me remember that this is simply not the case, that every breath I take is only because of Your mercy and grace. Help me to internalize the simple truth that apart from You, there can be no fruit in my life. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 16:18-20: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. 20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  1. Verse 18 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the Bible. Why do you think this may be true?
  2. What alternative to pride does this chapter of Proverbs provide?
  3. In light of verse 20, who are the people in your life from whom you could heed instruction? Are you willing to listen to them?

Note

  1. God created the world for us to be His image bearers and to reflect His goodness. Pride is the antithesis of that and claims that we can live our lives apart from God.  Thus, it’s not a surprise that anything against God’s purposes will eventually fail.
  2. Verse 19 declares that it is better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed (i.e. the poor). Generally speaking, humble people can be found among the poor or oppressed since they  often feel helpless when they are subjected to discrimination and contempt.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Jesus declared in his most famous sermon that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3). Ultimately, this brokenness can’t be manufactured by us but is prompted by God, especially when we are undergoing difficult situations. Let’s ask for that brokenness, which acknowledges the simple truth that we cannot live our lives for God without Him.  

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