Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself – the LORD God Almighty declares:
‘I abhor the pride of Jacob
and detest his fortresses;
I will deliver up the city
and everything in it.’
Last week, I was cycling to work with my husband when he fell off his bike on a patch of black ice. As we waited for someone to collect us, I spent my time stopping other cyclists to warn them of the hidden danger up ahead.
Heeding my advice, most cyclists got off their bikes to walk over the icy path. The few who ignored my warnings and thought they could make it across unscathed ended up flat on their backs having skidded and fallen. Thankfully, no-one was injured.
Pride comes before a fall. It’s a lesson parroted to us by parents and peers and, once again, Amos is ahead of the curve in his prophetic words.
In chapter 6, we move from generalities about Israel’s sins as a nation to God explaining the real root of the evil among his people: pride. God swears by himself, the highest authority, and he names his abhorrence, his disgust, his loathing at their pride.
Pride is the sin which says you have no sin. It makes you feel untouchable, for you perceive yourself as strong and mighty. It whispers that you are better than others, invincible. Deserving of special treatment. Pride refuses to repent.
Pride led the Israelites to lose their reliance on God, to put their confidence in other things – the things that promise everything and deliver nothing. Idols.
And so, in line with the saying so familiar to us, God swears that the proud city will fall. And fall it does. Chapters 7–9 of Amos use powerful imagery to describe exactly how the very things Israel took pride in – military might, strongholds, their own brilliance – are their downfall.
It’s hard to read. It must have been even harder to hear. No wonder Amos wasn’t particularly popular!
But his message remains as true today as it was for the people of Israel: pride may well be our downfall. It is only in humility – the antidote to pride – that we can acknowledge our failings before a holy God and one another.
Where do you see pride in yourself today? Perhaps you need to make amends with those around you who have fallen foul of it. Admit it, apologise, and repent where appropriate. And as you do so, ask God to show you who he is and who you are – and be assured of his forgiveness. It may well save you from some serious falls in the future.
Alianore is an Associate Speaker for LICC and Church Partnerships Manager at International Justice Mission
Where will you seek forgiveness this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.