Esther and Pride

“Pride comes before a fall” (Prov 16:8), and you won’t find many better illustrations of that than Haman’s humiliation in Esther 6. He went from thinking he was about to be treated like a king, to having to treat his most despised enemy like one.

We tend to assume that pride is all about thinking you are the greatest. A proud person has an overly inflated opinion of themselves. But pride is not only manifest in delusions of grandeur. Pride also lies behind idle daydreams where we imagine ourselves performing heroics or receiving plaudits.

Most of us know we will never be celebrities or sporting heroes or political leaders or billionaire business owners, but it doesn’t stop us dreaming. Our fantasies reveal a deep-seated longing to be first. Haman’s description of how he wanted to be honoured (Esth 6:7-9) revealed his own fantasy of being the king, dressed in royal robes, and being exalted in front of everyone.

Even at our most godly moments, as we minister in church, we can succumb to a similar type of pride. We are so often approval addicts, longing to have our egos stroked by people telling us that what we have done is brilliant. And if they don’t then we resort to fishing for compliments.

There is of course, nothing wrong with desiring to bless people with our gifts. And neither is it wrong to be pleased when we receive positive feedback. But beware the insidious nature of pride. It catches us out when we are most sure we are free from it. It has the potential to undermine even the most noble of deeds, as our initial motivation of love turns into selfish ambition. As Paul points out in 1 Cor 13:4-5, love is not proud, nor is it self-seeking. The loving person dreams not about how he can be honoured, but how he can bless others.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, (Ps 115:1)