Key Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 33, Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 29:23, Proverbs 8:13, James 4:6, Proverbs 16:5, Romans 12:16, Galatians 6:3, Philippians 2:3, Proverbs 26:12, Proverbs 27:2, Proverbs 21:4, 1 Peter 5:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Luke 18:9-14, Proverbs 6:16-17, Luke 14:11
Guiding Question: What is the difference between pride and humility and why does it matter to God?
Optional Introductory Activity: Give each student a sheet full of statements like, “I am so talented.”, “My talents are a blessing from God.”, “I worked hard to be this talented.” “I think God didn’t know what the world today would be like when He gave that command.” “I deserve it more than they do.”. Try to include a wide variety of statements. Then have students mark them as “Confident” “Prideful” “Humble” “Other”. Make sure to include statements you have heard teens in your area say about themselves. None of the statements you provide should fall under the other category, but students may place statements that imply the person is wiser, smarter or in some way better than God or negating God’s commands in the other category before the lesson. Choose only a handful of the statements to discuss after students have marked them. If opinions vary, don’t indicate which answer is correct yet.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read 2 Chronicles 33. Why was God upset with Manasseh? How did God punish Manasseh? Manasseh is widely thought of as one of the more evil kings of Judah. Ironically, his father, Hezekiah, was one of the more godly kings. One can assume that Manasseh knew what he was supposed to do to obey God, but was making some very poor, sinful choices. Because he was also leading the people astray, God imposed a tough earthly punishment on Manasseh. He was defeated and taken prisoner by the Assyrians in what would have been considered an extremely humiliating way, even for those times.
What happened once Manasseh was taken by the Assyrians? How did God react to Manasseh’s new humility? Evidently, being humiliated by the Assyrians was the wake up call Manasseh needed. The Bible tells us that when Manasseh humbled himself before God, God restored his kingdom. At this point, Manasseh’s humility was an attitude, a change of heart in how he felt about himself and about God. Manasseh followed up his humble attitude with actions once he returned to power. In his new found humility, Manasseh got rid of all of the foreign Gods, restored the altar, sacrificed to God, and told the people of Judah to serve God.
Unfortunately, Manasseh’s son Amon didn’t learn from his father’s mistakes. What does the Bible tell us about Amon and his very short reign? Apparently, Amon was prideful and did everything Manasseh had done when he was proud and making sinful choices. He reintroduced idol worship and did not humble himself before God. His reign didn’t last long, as his own officials assassinated him after two years. What do we learn about the importance of humbling ourselves before God? What clues do we have to what that might look like in our own lives today?
There are actually quite a few stories in the Bible who refused to be humble. One in the New Testament gives us a slightly clearer picture of what pride and humility look like in ways that are perhaps more familiar to us. read Luke 18:9-14. Describe the differences between the Pharisee and the tax collector. In what ways was one proud and the other humble? What additional information do we learn about pride and humility from this story?
The problem is that we live in a world that values pride. What are some common things people say that actually encourage people to be prideful? (“Toot your own horn.” “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” “ If I were that wonderful, I would shout it from the mountaintops.” etc.) What was once considered prideful is now thought of as confident or having good self esteem. Godly self esteem, however, acknowledges are faults and weaknesses and our need for God. It acknowledges that our strengths were gifts to us from God and don’t make us better than those who don’t have those gifts. It knows it has worth as a created, loved, child of God and does not look to the world for approval.
There is another part to pride that is rarely discussed, but ties directly to the stories we studied today. This is a pride that has decided it will decide which of God’s commands in the Bible should be obeyed and which are not to be obeyed. The person with this pride has made their own desires and intellect an idol. This person believes on some level that he or she is smarter and wiser than God. That the knowledge they have obtained makes them a better judge than God of what he or she should and shouldn’t do in life. Instead of a graven idol, like Baal, this pride has made the person his or her own god.
Pride is one attitude and heart attribute that God has extremely strong feelings about. Read the following passages. What information does it add to our understanding of how God feels about pride and pride itself?
- Proverbs 11:2. Pride leads to disgrace, humility to wisdom
- Proverbs 16:18. Pride leads to destruction, haughty spirit to fall
- Proverbs 29:23. Pride will bring low, humble will receive honor
- Proverbs 8:13. God hates pride and arrogance
- James 4:6. God opposes proud, gives grace to humble
- Proverbs 16:5. Arrogant in heart are abomination to God
- Romans 12:16. Don’t be haughty, associate with the lowly, never be wise in your own eyes
- Galatians 6:3. Thinks he is something – he is nothing
- Philippians 2:3. Don’t act from conceit, humbly count others more significant than yourself
- Proverbs 26:12. Wise in your own eyes? More hope for a fool (Note: Those who are humble are willing to learn from others and heed godly advice.)
- Proverbs 27:2. Let others praise you, don’t praise yourself
- Proverbs 21:4. Haughty eyes and proud heart are sinful
- 1 Peter 5:5. Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another
- 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love does not boast, isn’t arrogant
- Proverbs 6:16-17. Haughty eyes abomination to God
- Luke 14:11. Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled
After reading all these scriptures describe in detail someone who is proud and someone who is humble.
Skills Activity: Review the main points from the lesson. Have students pull out the sheets they completed in the original activity. Are there answers they would change after the lesson? What are other sayings, attitudes or actions do they consider proud or humble? In what areas have they changed their opinion? What still confuses them?
You and your Bible students may still be confused by this topic. For the last several decades, there has been a push for young people to have strong self esteem. Pride was valued. Studies now, however, are showing the Bible was right all along. People with strong self esteem can be arrogant, entitled and mean. Godly self esteem does not devalue oneself, because one is created and loved by God. It does however, place God first, is humble before and obedient to God and puts the needs of others before its own. It also realizes its sinful nature and need for God’s forgiveness and salvation. You may wish to add even more practical help for students by having them think of things a humble person would say and do. Challenge them to be as humble as possible before the next class and then report back what they notice.
Application Challenge: Review the scriptures from class. In what ways are you sometimes prideful? In what ways are you usually humble? What are some things you can do to be less prideful and more humble on a daily basis?