Pride's Prison | 1 Peter 5:5-6
1 Peter 5:5-6 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
I recently visited four boys in a Panama prison. They were 15, 16, 17, and 19 years old. Two were in jail for stealing; two for murder. The 10 x 10 cell they shared was concrete from floor to ceiling except for two windows on either side of the door. Both the door and windows were secured with iron bars. Four thin mattresses lay on the floor, along with toiletries and a few clothes. One of the murderers, Augustos, left the door for a brief period and came back with a handmade bracelet. He gave it to me, and reached his hands through the bars to tie it on my wrist. The translator asked the boys if what they had done was worth it. Each answered, “No.” There was a time when these boys acted in the most selfish and violent forms of pride. They took what wasn’t theirs to take—other people’s possessions and lives.
Pride always puts us in a prison. It is a self-absorbed, self-directed existence that knocks others down to build oneself up. Pride steals from others so we can have what we want. Our prison of pride may not be surrounded by concrete and bars, but it will all the same contain us to a small and restrained spiritual life. God clearly opposes the conceit He finds in our hearts.
The key out of pride’s prison is humility. This humility begins in the heart (…don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought); it is demonstrated to others (as Jesus demonstrated humility by going to the cross); and it is filled with God’s grace (grace receivers should certainly be grace givers, shouldn’t they?). When we humble ourselves before God, He will be the One to lift us up.
Pray for Augustos, the young man who gave me the bracelet. But don’t stop with him. Pray for yourself. Remember, you can be in prison without living in a 10 x 10 cell.
O God, give us humble hearts. Help us demonstrate true humility to others. Help us demonstrate true humility to you. Remind us often that you oppose pride. May we always depend on you—not ourselves—to lift us up in your way and your timing. In Christ’s Name, Amen.