From Nigeria we learn an important lesson about the dangers of pride. “The frog wanted to be as big as an Elephant and then burst.” This ancient proverb reminds us to be careful of the things we pursue, or the desires we allow to fill our hearts. While there is much good in being ambitious and a hard worker, there is also a great danger in allowing pride overtake our lives.
In Daniel chapter 4 Nebuchnezzer, King of Babylon was walking on the roof of his royal palace and said, “is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as royal residence and for the glory of my majesty.” (v.30). The Bible tells us that while the words were still in his mouth that a voice came from heaven and spoke to him, “The kingdom has departed from you, 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 that Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he wills.”
The book of Proverbs has a great deal to say about the dangers of pride. Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall,” and Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble there is wisdom.”
During the American Civil War a Union General by the name of John Sedgwick had moved near the battle zone to see how his troops were doing. Still a good distance from the enemy the climbed a parapet, so that he could view the entire battle field. One of his officers suggested that this might be unwise and that he should probably keep his head down. “NONSENSE,” the general snapped back, “They couldn’t hit an Elephant from this distance.” A moment later General Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded from a gunshot wound to the head.
It is common among men to seek recognition, praise and honor in our lives. We love to hear the roar of the crowd, or be seated with the rich and powerful, but God has warned us of the dangers of seeking the places of honor. In Luke 17 in the Parable of the Wedding Feast Jesus speaks of those who were seeking positions of honor, and the shame and embarrassment they felt when they were told to go sit in the lower places. There were others however, when they arrived they too humble positions at the table, but were later given positions of honor. In this story Jesus reminds us, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
In 1958, Jose Cubero was considered Spain’s most brilliant bull fighter. Only 21 years old he was recognized as the greatest matador of his day, but he made a fatal mistake. As he thrust his sword a final time into the delirious, bleeding bull, it collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, he turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause and praise of all in the arena. The bull however was not dead and lunging at the man it’s horn pierced his back and punctured his heart. When we begin to see our own greatest and allow the praise of men to consume us, pride stabs us in the back and punctures our heart. Don’t be like the frog that wanted to be as big as an elephant.