What do the following have in common – the Titanic, Napoleon, Hitler, O.J. Simpson, Saddam Hussein, Bill Cosby, you and I, and Humpty Dumpty?
They all had a great fall! The old saying is: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” The Bible echoes that: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
The Bible gives us case histories of proud souls God brought down. On the plain of Shinar, the builders of a skyscraper chanted: “Let us make a name for ourselves!” He who sits in the heavens laughed at their puny little tower, tinkered with their tongues, and scattered them over the earth.
In the land of the pyramids an ancient Pharaoh shook his fist at Moses and at heaven. He said, “Who is this God I must obey?” The finger of God soon withered his empire with plagues and drowned his army in the Red Sea.
The book of Numbers records how Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenged the ministry and divine Call of Moses. The earth swallowed them up and fire came forth from the Lord and consumed their followers.
An arrogant, oversized bully named Goliath cursed the Lord God of Israel and His people. One stone from the sling of young David brought him down.
The examples are legion. Mary summed it up in her Magnificat: “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones. He has lifted up the lowly.” (Luke 1)
“God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
This is the large truth of our salvation. Ever since Eve “drank the koolaid” of Satan’s lie that she could be like God, that she could make up her own rules, pride has waged war on grace. Pride is the opposite of grace (Eph. 2:8-9).
You and I inherited this great fall. It’s a hard look in the mirror. But if we arrogantly deny God’s diagnosis, if we continually compare our sins to the sins of others instead of confessing them, we will have no room for grace.
Our Savior took upon Himself the form of a servant. Our God became Man for men who wanted to be God. Jesus has a bottomless cup of joy to offer us when we believe that, though we are not worthy to sweep the floor nor scrub the toilets in His kingdom, He has made us royal heirs of heaven itself. Luther liked to say: “God likes to make something out of nothing, but if you think you’re something, He can’t make anything out of you.” The hymn writer echoed that thought: “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling!”