Genesis 11:1 NIV Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
2 Corinthians 12: 7b NLT … So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
Micah 6:8 CEB He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to … walk humbly with your God.
Proverbs 3:34 GNT He has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.
1 Corinthians 1:31 The Voice As the Scripture says: “If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord.”
In the first two passages above we see God altering the circumstances in order to keep people — collectively in the first passage, an individual in the second passage — from become prideful or boastful.
Introverts might not get this, but as an extrovert, I can say that in my life there is very much a tendency towards arrogance.
In the movie Network the female lead is asked, “What’s it like to be the person in the room who always has the right answers?”
Smugly, she replies, “It’s awful, absolutely awful.”
Psalm 20:7 is a verse that some of you learned in the KJV and other translations as “Some trust in chariots and some in horses…” Having a gut feeling about this verse I checked and sure enough, these alternatives to trust exist:
Some nations boast of armies and of weaponry, but our boast is in the Lord our God. (TLB)
Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. (NASB)
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God. (NRSV)
- Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of Yahweh our God. (HCSB)
What are our modern equivalents? We don’t have chariots and horses, but many of us have nice cars which we spend our Saturday mornings polishing and caring for. What else?
- education; including academic certificates, degrees, etc.
- knowledge; both specialized and general
- intuitive abilities; logic, reason, quick wit, tech savvy
- friends; the size of our friends list on social media as a possible example
- status; standing in the community, perhaps our name is in the local newspaper or mentioned on TV
- spouse; we take credit for what is really a gift from God to us
- possessions; our house, car, cabin the woods, consumer electronics, etc.
- passions; the hobbies and interests we are always talking about
Thinking about these things and speaking of them sometimes boosts are adrenaline, brings a smile to our faces, or causes us to speak with greater volume and passion. We’re energized thinking about these things, and we can become arrogant.
The last category above is a good lead to these two questions:
- What’s the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning?
- What do you talk about when it’s your opportunity to control the conversation?
God had to wipe out the Tower of Babel. He didn’t wipe out Saul/Paul however, but introduced a condition — and Bible scholars vary as to what exactly it was — to keep him humble. Laura Story, in the popular Christian song Blessings asks:
What if your blessings come through rain drops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
We very rarely thank God for Babel-type changes in plans, or Paul-type ongoing conditions, but they do prevent us from being less of a person than we might be; from being a person that others may not find particularly attractive; and from presenting ourselves in a way that people see us, but don’t see Christ living in and through us.