There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.
Pride is a huge problem. It will destroy you. Humility will exalt you. The choice is yours. Your future depends on it. If you humble yourself, God will exalt you (Jas 4:10). If you do not, He will crush you (Pr 16:18). God hates proud looks (Pr 6:16-17). He cast Lucifer out of heaven for pride (I Tim 3:6; Is 14:12-14). Learn the wisdom of humility today.
The prophet Agur taught inspired wisdom for your life by sets of four things (Pr 30:11-31). He began by describing four kinds of people, known by particular sins, of which this proverb is the third of the four. Most men are proud to varying degrees, but some are very arrogant and haughty. They have a very conceited and condescending look on their faces.
Generation here means a kind of person, for it lacks demonstrative pronouns or other modifiers for a period of time. It is not a prophecy of the future, when men would become haughty, for all ages have had such. It is not a prophecy of bad men in Christ’s time, for such a use would be unique in Proverbs and without practical wisdom for life.
The four generations are more than four temperament types – melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric – though each has sinful tendencies. The lesson here is beyond disposition: it is four kinds of people with specific sins. Rather than assign a temperament to each generation, learn the sin and corrective wisdom needed for each kind of person.
The third generation, or kind of evil person, is arrogant and proud about his abilities, character, accomplishments, possessions, and/or value. Rather than casting his eyes to the ground in humility, he lifts them up even in the sight of God (Luke 18:9-14). He can easily be disrespectful or snotty, unless it is in his best interests to show a little deference.
He has a conceited and haughty heart, presumptuously believing he is superior to others. He thinks the world revolves around him; he is blind to his faults; he is highly offended by neglect of others, yet he seldom serves others; he resents correction and reproofs; he is envious at the advantages of others; and he is quick to criticize and condemn.
Pride is a terrible sin. Yet today it is used as a good word, as in, “I am so proud of what I have done.” Pride is marketed as a personal cure-all for your problems under the names of self-love and self-esteem. It is one of the devil’s three main devices against you – the pride of life (I Jn 2:16). It breeds selfishness, envy, scorn, offence, and leads to fighting.
Hear the truth about you. You are nothing. You are less than nothing. If the truth be told, your character is depraved and profane (Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-18). Your abilities and potential are so pitiful your entire life can be snuffed out by holding your nose (Is 2:22; Ps 146:3-4). You brought nothing into this world; you will take nothing out (I Tim 6:7).
Your achievements and estate are so small, no one will remember you two weeks after you are buried (Ps 49:10-13). Low class men are obviously nothing; upper class men are a lie; combined together they are less than nothing (Ps 62:9). The Holy Spirit never heard of the dignity or value of man. Are you able and willing to accept God’s opinion of you?
You entered life not knowing a single fact, not even your own existence. You had no ability or conscience to keep from dirtying yourself. You could not take food from a spoon, and drinking from a cup was impossible. Making a tricycle go forward and saying the alphabet taxed your body and brain to their limits. And now you think you are great?
Any good thing you have is a gift from God. How can you be proud about any of it? God gave it to you by His choice. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (I Cor 4:7). Your pride offends God, and rightly so!
You are doomed, unless you humble yourself. God hates pride, for He only has underived beauty, glory, power, truth, and wisdom. He only can say, “I AM THAT I AM.” In fact, that is His name! Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest king in world history, but he said after seven years of God’s judgment, “Those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Dan 4:37).
What is the lesson? True wisdom hates and rejects pride. Humility will save you from much error and cause you to grow in favor with God and man. It can easily get down and confess ignorance and inability, for it accepts the truth. The gracious character that wins favor with both God and men depends heavily on the excellent spirit of a humble man.
Consider the rich and wise king that wrote most of the book of Proverbs. Solomon was a very favored child – favored by God and men. He had the genes, the opportunities, and the successes. He was the son of David (Pr 1:1). But even as king over a very prosperous nation, he said, “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (I Kgs 3:7).
Are you humble? It is easy to tell. Do you love to be corrected, or would you rather correct others? Do you commend and praise others easily and often? Are you anxious to serve, or be served? Do you fully submit without resentment to those God has put over you? If a woman, do you know you are the weaker vessel and created to help one man?
Are you thankful for blessings or advantages of another, or are you envious? Do you truly get excited at another’s success? When others offend you, do you get angry, or do you quickly forgive them? Do you stay in the background and listen to others? Are you a better hearer or teacher? Do you listen most and talk less, or talk most and listen less?
God has no use for a man or woman thinking he or she is something. He will bless and help the man with a poor and contrite spirit, who trembles at His word (Is 66:1-2; 57:15). First, humble yourself before God and obey His every word. Second, humble yourself before men and serve them. The greatest in God’s kingdom are servants, not rulers.
If you humble yourself, God and men will exalt you (Pr 22:11; Jas 4:10; I Pet 5:6). If you will not, God and men will crush you (Pr 15:25; 16:5,18; 21:24). Jesus warned, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Mat 23:12). Solomon often wrote the same (Pr 15:33; 18:12; 22:4; 29:23).
What can you do today to end pride and show humility? Who needs to hear your apology? Where could you end a grudge and make peace? Who should hear your praise? Who could you love or serve without reward? Who could you thank for something they did for you? In what setting could you be a reserved servant instead of a forward talker?
Jesus Christ humbled himself to be born of a poor woman, to live an obscure life of poverty and service, and to die an unjust death for others. For this great work His Father promoted Him far above all the angels of heaven (Phil 2:5-11). Are you like Him at all?