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Nuke Pride from Orbit

Its the only way to be sure

Proverbs 6:16-17

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,


Proverbs 16:19

19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Ah, gardening. The joy of laying out the boundaries of a flower bed or vegetable patch. Drawing a diagram of what you want planted and where. Tilling the ground, adding rich soil, planting seedlings or rows of seeds. At the end of a long day, your work is done. Dirt is lodged beneath your fingernails–but you do not care, the grime is a badge of honor. 

Within a few days, however, you will see something growing for which you did not labor. In between bean sprouts or marigolds, small, green invaders will be popping up. Weeds. Now the plucking of garden intruders can begin–seemingly without end. 

Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox quipped “A weed is an unloved flower.” It is clear that she never spent a summer in the American south, swatting “no-see-ums” and soaking up 100% humidity like a sponge, just to keep Euphorbia maculata (wonderfully known “prostrate spurge”) out of her flowerbed.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon describes the sin of pride almost as that of an invasive weed. It is a singular blight on the human heart and one that can take a lifetime of work to eradicate it.

The problem of pride is that it is like a sort of spiritual “wack-a-mole” game. Whenever you discover its presence in your heart through a broken relationship,  a boastful word or a selfish thought, and move to destroy it–pride will pop up somewhere else in your life and the work begins anew.

This is an age-old problem. Scientist, satirist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg famously recounted an old anecdote from Plato. His rival and critic, Diogenes the cynic once invaded Plato’s home for a debate: 

Diogenes, filthily attired, paced across the splendid carpets in Plato's dwelling. “Thus, said he, do I trample on the pride of Plato!” “Yes, Plato replied, but only with another kind of pride.”

Pride is not only a spiritual weed that seems to defy your best efforts at self-gardening, it will have a deadly effect if it continues to grow. 

American Puritan and revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote much about the deceitfulness of pride and its hardiness in the garden of your heart: 

…Spiritual pride is the most secret of all sins….It is a sin that has, as it were, many lives; if you kill it, it will live still; if you mortify and suppress it in one shape, it rises in another; if you think it is all gone, yet it is there still.–Jonathan Edwards

No amount of quick-fix “Round-Up” spray or time-release granules will kill off your pride. It must be yanked up by the roots, for pride has adapted to every tool in your garden shed. Edwards continues:

There are a great many kinds of [pride], that lie in different forms and shapes, one under another, and encompass the heart like the coats of an onion; if you pull off one, there is another underneath.–Jonathan Edwards

During His earthly ministry, Jesus frequently confronted people and revealed the pride that was driving them. He condemned the pride of the Pharisees and their piety before men, and even rebuked the pride in His own disciples.  

When Jesus met the “rich young ruler” He saw a man who kept all of the religious observances and was convinced at his own righteousness. Jesus saw into his heart and plucked from it the one piece of pride that the young man held dear:

22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”–Luke 18:22

This, of course, the young man could not do, and Luke says “he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

There is a scene in the 80’s sci-fi thriller “Aliens” where Colonial Marines are battling a deadly alien menace on a distant planet. The deadly creatures have killed a number of their group and the surviving humans are desperately trying to come up with a plan to stop them. One Marine suggests attacking the aliens with nerve gas:

Hicks: That's worth a try, but we don't know if it's gonna affect them.
Hudson: Let's just bug out and call it even, man! What are we even talking about this for?
Ripley:…I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Since then, in popular culture, the phrase “nuke it from orbit” has come to jokingly signify a final treatment for thinks like deleting a computer file at its source to seeing a scary spider in your kitchen.  

Proverbs Chapter 6 lists pride as first and foremost of the “deadly” sins that God hates:

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,–Proverbs 6:16-17

It is safe to say that Solomon is telling you that when it comes to pride, you must “nuke it from orbit, just to be sure. So how do you do this?

Well, the first thing is to really come to terms with the idea that God hates pride. He more than hates it, it is an abomination to Him. YOUR pride is an abomination to Him. 

In your life, when you realize that someone you love or respect is angry with you, it gets your attention. You generally want to make things right. When flowers or hugs will not do, you know that you must confess, repent, and reconcile with them. So must it be with your Heavenly Father.

For the alternative to reconciling with God is to be His enemy. David sings in Psalm 101:

The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
Him I will not endure.–Psalm 101:5b 

Do you daily live with the realization that you are under the authority of God? Do you live as before His face? Does the reality of your sinful state ever enter your mind? It is easy to push this away with excuses, or simply allow your Heavenly Father’s call to be drowned out in the background noise of life. 

Living before the face of God is what will allow you to shine the cold light of reality on your sinful habits, in order to identify and turn from them. Living before God will allow you to see ways in which you can serve Him greater, and discover new ways to pray for those in need.  

If you are not doing this, if you are feeding your pride, Tim Keller reminds you of the reality of the consequences: 

You are also on a collision course with God’s future, because the Bible says that, eventually, God is going to lift up the humble and put down the proud.–Tim Keller

“God’s future” is the reminder that God is not simply the God of the past and the present, He is ruler of all time and future. In time God works out His divine plan in this age, and, as Jesus says in Matthew 12, “in the age to come.”

When that day comes, you will not want to be counted among the proud who are brought low. 

So, to defeat pride, you consciously live coram deo, before the face of God. 

Solomon provides the second and final step to “nuking” pride: meekness. Look at Proverbs 16:

Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.–Proverbs 16:19

The poetic couplet in Proverbs 16:19 is a study in contrasts. Pride is represented as those who “divide spoils.” This is a military term for sharing the plunder of a captured city–or you can easily envision pirates of the bounding main, scrambling over booty. 

The key, however lies in the first couplet: “a humble spirit with the lowly.” Bruce Waltke explains in his commentary the deep meaning of this phrase:

With “in spirit,” however, it has the noble sense of one who through affliction has had his pride knocked out of him and becomes lowly in spirit before God.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

God is calling on you to be meek, or truly humble before Him and others. Not just to please him, or to have a servant’s heart–but as an act of dying to self. Meekness is not obsequiousness or being merely deferential, it is living like Christ. 

Jesus calls you to this through the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount: 

5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.–Matthew 5:5

What does it mean to be meek? Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes it well in his study on the this famous passage:

But when I have that true view of myself in terms of poverty of spirit, and mourning because of my sinfulness, I am led on to see that there must be an absence of pride. The meek man is not proud of himself, he does not in any sense glory in himself. He feels that there is nothing in himself of which he can boast. It also means that he does not assert himself.–Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”

This absence of pride can only come by daily humbling yourself before God as you seek to live out the Gospel in your actions. Tim Keller describes the “Gospel-humility:”

Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”–Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

Self-forgetfulness is even something that pastors must do, for the pride that comes in serving God can leave you open to the work of the devil, as Puritan Richard Greenham describes: 

The more godly a man is, and the more graces and blessings of God are upon him, the more need he hath to pray because Satan is busiest against him, and because he is readiest to be puffed up with a conceited holiness.–Richard Greenham

Pastor and author Steve Brown describes an invite he received from a Fortune 500 company to come and speak. He says he instantly thought, “good, a company like this needs a man of God to come minister to them.” However, instead of being the rousing success he was sure he would be, he discovered that his speech went terribly and he was not invited back. He then recalled his boastful thoughts and realized, he aid, that God was bringing him to "the end of himself."

Have you been humbled in your life?  Has God brought you to the end of yourself? Does God remind you from time to time that you are His child and in need of chastisement? Count it a blessing if so, in order that you may see yourself as He does.

Puritan Richard Baxter even warns pastors going into the pulpit to be on their guard against pride:

When pride has written the sermon, it goes with us to the pulpit. It forms our tone, it animates our delivery, it takes us off from that which may be displeasing to the people. It sets us in pursuit of vain applause from our hearers. It makes men seek themselves and their own glory.–Richard Baxter

Living in meekness, in true “Gospel-humility,” means to constantly be on your guard. You must rely on the humility of Christ, through His Holy Spirit, to do the work of uprooting pride. 

I found a solution to the weeds in our flower garden: after weeks of frustration, I lay down some black weed cloth [available at your local lawn and garden center]. This formed a solid barrier on the ground that not only protected the roots of our plants, it has kept out almost every weed.  The humility of Christ and the meekness of spirit that He calls you to, functions much the same way.

James reminds you that when you do this, God will lift you up [wonderfully captured in song here by a gospel ensemble]:

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.–James 4:10

Lay down the barrier of meekness in your life, and He will lift you up.



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.



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