It is an old and common saying, that "coming events cast their shadows before them;" the wise man teaches us the same lesson in the verse before us. When destruction walks through the land, it casts its shadow; it is in the shape of pride.The prelude of destruction is pride.
There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls as pride, and yet there is no vice which is more frequently, more emphatically, and more eloquently condemned in Scripture. Against pride, prophets have lifted up their voices, evangelists have spoken and teachers have discoursed.
Pride, you know, is most likely to meet with destruction, because it is too tall to walk upright. It is most likely to tumble down, because it is always looking upward in its ambition, and never looks to its feet. There only needs to be a pitfall in the way, or even a stone, and down it goes. It is sure to tumble, because it is never contented with being where it is. It is always seeking to be climbing, and boys that will climb must expect to fall. Pride is foolhardy, and will venture upon scaling any rock. Sometimes it holds on by a brier, and that pricks it; sometimes by a flint, and that cuts it. There it goes, toiling and laboring on, till it gets as high as it can, and then, from its very height, it is likely to fall. Nature itself tells us to avoid high things. Pride, when most successful, stands in slippery places. Who would choose to dwell on a pinnacle of the temple?
The true throne of pride everywhere, is the heart of man. If, my dear friends, we desire, by God's grace, to put down pride, the only way is to begin with the heart. "My son, hear the word of wisdom; if thou art wrong, seek not to correct thine outward life, but seek first to get thy heart correct, for out of it are the issues of life, and thy life shall be pure when once thy heart is so."
I am persuaded that all I can say to you, or to myself, can never keep pride from us. The Lord alone can bolt the door of the heart against pride. Pride is like the flies of Egypt; all Pharaoh's soldiers could not keep them out; and I am sure all the strong resolutions and devout aspirations we may have cannot keep pride out unless the Lord God Almighty sends a strong wind of his Holy Spirit to sweep it away.
"BEFORE HONOR IS HUMILITY." Our heavenly Father does not say that we are not to have honor. He has not forbidden it; He has only forbidden us to be proud of it. A good man may have honor in this life. Daniel had honor before the people; Joseph rode in the second chariot, and the people bowed the knee before him. God often clothes His children with honor in the face of their adversaries, and makes the wicked confess that the Lord is with them in deed and in truth. But God forbids our making that honor a cloak for pride, and bids us seek humility which always accompanies as well as precedes true honor.
What is humility? The best definition I have ever met with is, "to think rightly of ourselves." Humility is to make a right estimate of one's-self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought. Some persons, when they know they can do a thing, tell you they cannot; but you do not call that humility? It is not humility to underrate yourself. Humility is to think of yourself, if you can, as God thinks of you. Humility is not to say, "I have not this gift," but it is to say, "I have the gift, and I must use it for my Master's glory. I must never seek any honor for myself, for what have I that I have not received?" Humility is to feel that we have no power of ourselves, but that it all cometh from God.
What is the seat or throne of humility? The throne of humility must be the heart. I do hate, of all things, that humility which lives in the face. There are some persons who always seem to be so very humble when you are with them, but you can discover there is something underneath it all, and when they are in some other society, they will brag and say how you told them your whole heart. Take heed of the men who allow you to lay your head in their lap and betray you into the hands of the Philistines. I have met with such persons.
I dislike that humility which rests in outward things. There is a kind of oil, sanctimonious, proud humility, which is not the genuine article, though it is sometimes extremely like it. You may be deceived by it once or twice, but by-and-bye you discover that is a wolf dexterously covered with sheep's clothing. True humility does not continually talk about "dust and ashes," and prate about its infirmities. Very likely the most humble man in the world won't bend to anybody. John Knox was a truly humble man, yet if you had seen him march before Queen Mary with the Bible in his hand, to reprove her, you would have rashly said, "What a proud man!"
Humility is a thing which must be genuine; the imitation of it is the nearest thing in the world to pride. Seek of God, dear friends, the gift of true humility. Seek to have that breaking in pieces by the Holy Spirit, that breaking in the mortar with the pestle which God himself gives to his children. Seek that every twig of His rod may drive pride out of you, so that by the blueness of your wound, your soul may be made better. Seek of Him, that He may take you to Calvary, and that He may show you His brightness and His glory, that you may be humble before Him.
Ask God to make you a man—those are scarce things now-a-days—a man who only fears God, who knows no fear of any other kind. Do not give yourselves up to any man's power, or guidance, or rule, but ask of God that you may have that humility towards Him, which gives you the noble bearing of a Christian before others.
It is a great mercy when God gives a man to be free from everybody, when he can go into his pulpit, careless of what others may think of him. I conceive that a minister should be like a lighthouse-keeper; he is out at sea, and nobody can suggest to him that he had better light his candles a little later, or anything of the kind. He knows his duty, and he keeps his lamps burning; if he were to follow the opinions of the people on shore, his light might be extinguished altogether. It is a merciful providence that they cannot get to him, so he goes on easily, obeys his regulations as he reads them, and cares little for other people's interpretation. So a minister should not be a weathercock, that is turned by the wind, but he should be one who turns the wind; not one who is ruled by others, but one who knows how to stand firm and fast, and keep his light burning, trusting always in God; believing, that if God has raised him up, He will not desert him, but will teach him by His Holy Spirit, without the ever-changing advice of men.
What comes of humility?
Humility is the herald which ushers in the great king; it walks before honor; and he who has humility, will have honor afterwards. Humble souls, rejoice! Thou shalt have honor to wear the crown, and wave the palm one day, for thou hast now that humility which comes from God. As truly as ever the Lord has humbled you, He will exalt you. Verily, honor shall come after humility.
Excerpted from the sermon titled “Pride and Humility” (Proverbs 18:12) by CH Spurgeon dated 17 August 1856. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/pride-and-humility/#flipbook/