Bread – Hubris

December 17, 2010


Readings for Friday, December 17, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 10:5-19; 2 Pet. 2:17-22; Matt. 11:2-15; Psalms 40, 51, 54

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“Hubris” means “wanton insolence or arrogance resulting from excessive pride” [Webster’s New World Dictionary, College Edition (1974)].

It is an appropriate word to summarize today’s readings.

From Isaiah, we read about Assyria and our Lord’s attitude about it: “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of My anger, in whose hand is the club of My wrath…’I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. For he says: ‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.’’” Isa. 10:5, 12-13. The King of Assyria acted with hubris toward God because the King of Assyria believed that he was king, that it was by his strength and his knowledge and wisdom that he conquered the then-known world, and he did not recognize that all power, knowledge, wisdom, and authority come from God. “Woe to him [the King of Assyria].” Woe to him because he did not know his place.

From 2 Peter, we read about rotten teachers and leaders: “These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words…They promise them [their followers] freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for a man is slave to whatever has mastered him.” 2 Pet. 17-19. These folks demonstrate hubris against God. We know this because they do not mouth words given to them by God, but instead mouth words which are boastful, which come from pride of the heart. Instead of subjecting themselves to the master of the universe they subject themselves to depravity. Instead of being a slave to the kingdom of God, they are slave to the kingdom of self and the selfish paths which flow from self.

From Matthew, we read about the difference between the best on earth and the least in heaven: “I [Jesus] tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matt. 11:11. The greatest man of woman who ever lived doesn’t hold a candle to the most minor person in heaven. What can be achieved through man’s hubris, through his overweening pride, is nothing compared to the achievements of the most humble in heaven.

When you are ready to look around your home or your place of work and pat yourself on the back for the good things you have done, ask yourself if you are behaving like the Assyrian, ready to take credit for having the talents and smarts to “do it,” instead of acknowledging the One Who really did it. When you begin to talk, perhaps to impart information to a colleague, give a presentation to a group, participate in a discussion, or even to pass gossip, ask yourself whether you are behaving like the rotten leader, ready with your boastful words but not ready at all to be slave to the One who gives you the power to speak.

When you think about being the best at what you do, ask yourself this – if I become the best and win the prize on earth, have I done it in a way which makes me the least in heaven?

I am going out hunting this weekend and I hope that the only thing I shoot dead as a doornail is my hubris, my pride. Do you want to join me? You can find the bullets at the foot of the cross.

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Bread is sent to those people who have asked that it be sent to them, and maybe it has been forwarded to you by a friend. If you are not on my mailing list and wish to be, please e-mail me at flintg@verizon.net. I also know that many things fill your inbox and, if you would like to be taken off the list, please e-mail me and your request will be promptly honored.

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All Bible citations are to the New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise noted.

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This and previous Breads may be read, critiqued and commented upon at the Bread blog: https://1bread.wordpress.com

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