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High Horses and Hard Falls?

Someone observed that proud people are those who are always letting off esteem. The Bible teaches the need for healthy self-esteem, or perhaps more accurately, a healthy "spiritual-esteem." It is not wrong or egotistical to agree with the Bible, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1a). This verse and a truck-load of others in the Bible give us good reasons for high spiritual-esteem! As someone beautifully said, "God made me, and God don't make no junk!" It's healthy to think I am a child of God — if, indeed, I am one!

The problem is not that man is not a special creature, enjoying a very special and even unique status and place in God's creation. He clearly is, and nothing argues that point more forcefully than the fact Christ died on a cross for the sake of human souls. But, then again, the very fact that Christ had to die compels mankind to realize that while we are made in the image of God, we are not God! While we are special, we are not sinless. While we are intelligent and creative and seemingly unbounded in so many ways that are good, we are not independent of God. As Scripture says in Romans 12:3: "I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." That single verse provides a basis for a way of thinking about myself and others that is healthy and balanced and scriptural. Note first that the verse does not teach me not to think highly of myself at all. Read carefully. It teaches me, along with you, not to think more highly of ourselves than we "ought" to think. The way we "ought" to think about ourselves is to think what God thinks and says about us as revealed in His word. On the one hand many people would do well to think more highly of themselves by accepting that God loves them and also trusting that He desires to save and use them whatever their physical status/station in life. On the other hand many human beings tend to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. People can (and many do) get the "big head" from time to time. Ever told someone (or been told by someone) to "get off your high horse?" That's what the Bible speaks to in Romans 12:3 and other places — somebody thinking too highly of self. The Bible word for it is "pride" — and Scripture does not hesitate to identify it as sin. Proverbs 16:18 warns bluntly: "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." If you will take time to read 2 Chronicles 26 in the Bible you will read about a man who serves as a living demonstration of the dangers of pride (read the entire chapter). King Uzziah rose to the height of success and fame as a king of Judah — but came crashing down when he "got the big head" and lost touch with the fact he needed God and His help. As long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper (verse 5b). But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD (verse 16b)." When Uzziah "got on a high horse" he took a long, hard fall. I once saw a list of "Ten Basic Maxims For Life." I remember only Number 1, simple but profound — "There is a God, and I am not him." If you ride a high horse and ignore your need for God, you ARE headed for a hard fall.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ