1 John 2.15-17: The Pride of Life

Dr. JohnA great man has just been buried. His name was Muhammad Ali. Some of us first knew him as Cassius Clay. He was a combination of many qualities: a boxer of no mean talent, a man with passion for the freedom of African Americans, he came to Africa more than once, including to a boxing game in Kinshasa, DRC.

During our prime, we adored Ali’s remarkable rise to fame, which seemed to have no end, and with that, we prided in him being African. He represented African invincibility, no matter to us that he was an American citizen!

There is a pale local imitator of the man in Moses Golola, sometimes called motor-mouth. Ali excelled in throwing taunts at his opponents, even referring to their physical unattractiveness, if it fitted his verbal jabs. He was proud of his success and relished it.

In recent months the world has been treated to the public and bloated pride exhibited by Donald Trump. What is frightening is the fanfare that goes with it, as crowds cheer his prideful self-glorification.

I am also reminded of one man who once walked over to the master of ceremonies at a certain function, requiring to be reintroduced with his full honourary titles. He was not content that his name was mentioned without the titles he had been given.

Are we all any different? Pride bedevils us all. We pride in our accomplishments, our academic success, our titles, our beauty, our wealth and anything that seems to give us an edge or enables us to stand in the limelight.

While it may appear innocent to pride in our accomplishments, it carries with it a lethal poison. In God’s eyes our worth can never equal to the achievements of this life. You and I are much too precious. Our worth is the image of God in each of us. Thus your worth is the same as that of the next-door neighbour that you wish to out-class.

The Bible frowns on pride. John’s summary of the categories of sin is: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” 

Pride was in the first sin of Adam and Eve, and it was in the temptations of Jesus, and of course in many other biblical figures. For Adam and Eve it was in the false desire for ‘wisdom’ – “the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” Mrs Adam wanted to be wiser, and so did her husband. But wiser than who or what, you ask? You see, pride thrives on ‘rivalry’, the desire to be better than others, even when they are unaware that I am comparing myself to them! Consequently this sin of Adam introduced a worse form of ‘wisdom’; they knew their nakedness and did not quite pride in it at all.

The devil tempted Jesus to test God. He asked Him to ‘fly’ off the pinnacle of the temple “if” He was indeed the Son of God! Please note that the devil was using the promises of God! He still uses that same “ifs” among Christians today. He says, “If you are a child of God, surely you can heal whomsoever and you cannot be poor.” Thus many people now are led astray by claims of the promises of God, guided by pride.

I read an advert from ‘Prophet Elvis Mbonye’ telling his audience, “You deserve the best from God.” This is outright heresy, for which of us can claim to ‘deserve the best’ from God. This is the pride of life in our pulpits. From God we deserve condemnation except for the merits of Jesus Christ, our blessed Saviour through whom we receive righteousness. Lastly, the most lethal form of pride is the ubiquitous and least noticeable conviction that we can live without God. It is the further physical then unaware of impending doom

Among believers, it is the confidence that we can run our lives alone. However, the only people who find salvation are those who realize their destitution and fly to Jesus for His undeserved grace. You must flee to Jesus now and be saved.