There are two ways to battle pride: the hard way and the easy way. I commend to you the latter. Either way you go, learning humility requires an experience.
On Sunday I preached on the pride puzzle in the life of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4). Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar that pride was going to take him down. One would think that Nebuchadnezzar could have averted his downfall. After all, he was one of the most accomplished leaders in history (see hanging gardens, Babylon walls, victory over the Egyptians). Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar that he was going down and the king knew Daniel was reliable (Daniel 2:46).
Yet, a year later, in the midst of his bragging, Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way.
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:28-33).
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar how to beat pride the easy way.
27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27
Daniel’s phrase, “practicing righteousness,” might also be translated “giving alms to the poor.” Daniel realized that Nebuchadnezzar would not become humble through an intellectual exercise. If Nebuchadnezzar was going to become more humble, then he need to engage in worship. He needed to teach himself (by giving to the poor in this case) that God is the only King over all ages and all the earth. The pastoral point of the chapter is, only experiences which allow us to see ourselves in relation to God humble us. If we want to defeat pride the easy way, then we must act in ways which will yourself to experience the smallness of ourselves and meditate on the greatness of God.
If we do not choose to defeat pride by acting in ways that acknowledge the greatness of God, then we can count on the fact that God will provide experiences which teach humility. Herod, for example, learned the hard way.
20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:20-23).
Act in ways that acknowledge the glory and majesty of Christ. Serve, give, love, confess, be baptized, take communion, pray, hear the Word preached. These are the easy experiences by which we will defeat pride.
Calling these the “easy” way to defeat pride is not my description. It is what Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. I commend to you Christ. Take his yoke upon you and learn from Him. He will give you rest.