It is said that Mark Twain sat through a carefully crafted, dramatically delivered sermon one Sunday morning. Even though he admitted the effort, there was something about this minister that had always bothered him. The preacher seemed entirely too proud of his talents. Twain decided to take him down a few pegs.
After the service, Twain walked over to the minister and drawled, “Well, yes, it was a rip snorter, Reverence Wallace, but you know, I have a book at home that has every word of it.”
The preacher took the bait at once. “Quite impossible. I would certainly like to see that book, if it exists.”
“So you shall. I will mail it to you first thing in the morning.”
Eventually, a bulky package arrived from Twain with an enormous postage-due bill attached. The preacher paid the charges and ripped open the wrappings.
Inside was an unabridged dictionary. (An Encyclopedia of Humor)
The preacher must have been rather proud of his “carefully crafted, dramatically delivered sermon” until the moment he opened the package and found a dictionary of all things. In response to the seemingly perfect sermon he’d heard, Twain delivered his own message to the preacher that was intended to puncture the man’s inflated ego somewhat.
This scene puts me in the mind of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.” You can be as proud as a Peacock about your accomplishments and skills but be assured there will come a downfall in due time if it all goes to your head.
There’s good reason to remember that there is an “I” right in the middle the word, “pride.” The “I” often gets our heads so swelled with overconfidence that sooner or later we end up making mistakes. And mistakes can lead to destruction.
Hopefully, thanks to Mark Twain, the preacher was made a little more humble in his next sermon so that he could avoid any problems down the road. Twain’s bold actions provided an opportunity for the preacher to prevent his personal pride from becoming his downfall. With apparent pride in his preaching talents his whole ministry could have been affected. And who knows how many opportunities would have been missed in the future to lead the church successfully and to reach others with the Gospel.
But this situation can also be painfully true of us. Our responsibilities and privileges as Christians are also affected when we’re puffed up with too much pride. It’s written, “Don’t let your pride become inflated — you may have to swallow it someday.” Good advice!
The problem with pride is where it leads. It leads to unhealthy anger (Prov. 21:24); contempt and rejection of God’s Word (Jeremiah 43:2); contention (Prov. 13:10; 28:25); evil plots (Psa. 10:2); and self-deception (Jer. 49:16; Obadiah 1:3).
On the other hand, humility will keep pride from creating these problems and make us much more satisfied. For humility brings wisdom (Prov. 11:2; Matt. 11:25); harmony and healing (2 Chronicles 7:14); improved relationships as well as winning God’s approval (1 Peter 5:5); and prosperity (Prov. 22:4).
When pride is displayed through arrogance, egoism, pretentiousness, self-importance, and bragging then it’s time to turn it off and turn on humility, instead. It begins by turning to the One who did humble himself and give his life so that we may truly and humbly live. Here’s Casting Crowns with a message that reminds us of knowing who we are in view of our own humility: http://youtu.be/VU_rTX23V7Q
Good News to YOU!