Saturday, June 3, 2023

Pride Breeds Contention (Proverbs 13:10; 1 Samuel 18)

"By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom" (Prov. 13:10).

The proverb “Pride breeds contention” has been affirmed time and again throughout history. Wars have erupted, families divided, and churches split because people have contended, not for the glory of God, but for their own pride. Many will often try to hide their pride under the cloak of serving God, but as contention mounts around them, their true motivation is often exposed.

Are you quick to defend yourself? Are you more concerned about your honor than peace? Are you jealous of those who are more righteous, more talented, more intelligent than you are? Do you find it difficult to rejoice when others succeed? When they do succeed, are you unable to rest until you have surpassed their accomplishments? What motivates you in your work, or even in your spiritual duties? Is it to be esteemed by men, to emblazon your name on the tablets of history? If you answer yes to any of these questions, pride is at the root; and if it is not dealt with, it will eventually breed contention, not only with others, but in your own heart.

Saul is a prime example. He began his service to the Lord in humility. When others despised him and refused to honor him, he “kept silent.” But as his fame spread and his successes mounted, pride began to fester in his heart. Eventually, he considered his own ambition more important than God’s commands. When Samuel confronted him for his disobedience, he tried to hide his pride under the false pretenses of religion. But God knows the heart, and He stripped Saul of his honor. Then, when David arrived on the scene, Saul despised him. This small shepherd boy grew in stature as Saul decreased. In his vexed and ambition-driven state, Saul lashed out and pursued David. He could not stand the thought of David succeeding him. When the people cried, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” Saul was very angry. He became threatened, and from that point on he kept a “jealous eye on David.”

Instead of humbling himself before the Lord and men, Saul sought to exalt himself. He would have done well to learn Paul’s lesson: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:13).

Read 1 Samuel 10:26–27; 13:11–14; and 20:30–31. How does Saul’s pride breed contention with God and others? How are you like Saul? Do you argue over trivial matters? If so, pride could be the cause. Try to make it through the weekend without defending yourself or getting into an argument—even a little one.