Recent psychological experiments have revealed that people around the world, even those living in the most isolated, primitive cultures, can easily recognize the look of pride when displayed on a person’s face and in their body language. In the experiment, photographs showed models using a variety of body language and facial expressions. The look of pride included a slight smile and head tilt and a puffed chest. Amazingly, even children as young as four years of age were able to identify the complex emotion of pride as displayed in the photographs.
Esther’s uncle Mordecai recognized that look of pride in the face and posture of Haman, a high-ranking official in the government of King Ahasuerus. Haman demanded homage, but Mordecai the gatekeeper, discerning the man’s haughty spirit, refused to bow before him. Haman’s pride kicked into high gear, triggering anger and hatred, and he plotted the destruction of Mordecai and all of his people.
But Haman’s pride led to his downfall. He planned an extravagant honour for himself, but the king instead ordered him to take Mordecai— who had uncovered an assassination plot and saved the king’s life—and do to him exactly what he had planned for himself: dress him in royal robes, put him on horseback, and lead him through the town, proclaiming Mordecai’s honour. Haman did as commanded and went home humiliated. When he told his wife and counsellors what had happened, they accurately predicted his ruin. Haman ended up on the very gallows he had built to execute Mordecai.
Pride destroys. This original sin has wreaked havoc in the universe and still causes untold suffering. According to the Bible, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5, ESV). In its natural state, the heart of man is contaminated with pride. Only by humbling ourselves and allowing Christ to cleanse us can we be free of this self-destructive emotion.
Dear Lord, please wash away any destructive pride in my heart and fill me with Your Spirit.
For Further Study: Esther 6; Proverbs 29:23; Philippians 2:3