Faith stock

There’s a dangerous similarity between the human being and the pufferfish.

According to National Geographic, the pufferfish can inflate into a ball to evade predators. These clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size, but these blow-up fish aren't just cute. Most pufferfish contain a toxic substance that makes them foul tasting and potentially deadly to other fish. The toxin is deadly to humans — 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is enough poison in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.

While not equipped with a toxic poison, we humans may ‘puff’ ourselves up in a different way. We have a different sort of defense system, and we can blow ourselves up with pride and arrogance to make us look bigger than we are. We then have a different kind of toxicity that becomes poisonous to a marriage, a church or a friendship. No wonder the late Bible scholar John Stott once said, "Pride is your greatest enemy…” And the Bible in James 4:6, that, “God opposes the proud….”

How then do I “detox” from pride? John Stott also provided an antidote to this greatest enemy by continuing that statement to say, “…humility is your greatest friend." And James 4:6 continues, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Why is humility my greatest friend? And how do I get this grace? I think the Bible and John Stott knew something very important, that with humility comes freedom. Free from the need to impress others, free from the need to feel better about myself by collecting powerful people to affirm me and free to love those whom the world may consider weak, inconvenient and ugly.

No one better exemplified this freedom found in humility than Jesus Christ. He came to earth and showed the world this kind of freedom. Jesus never catered to the rich, powerful and influential but embraced those who had no such power. He was free to love anyone and everyone.

So how do I move toward humility? The first step is to acknowledge your own brokenness. According to the Bible, we’re all sinners. We’ve all been cursed by the fall, and with no one on earth who could save us, God humbled himself and became human. And as it states in Philippians 2:8, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.” Through his humiliating death, having now paid the penalty of our sin, we can accept the free gift of salvation from sin and pride. In John 3:16 it states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Would you like freedom from the toxicity of pride? Look to Christ. He has provided the only antidote.

Chad Cowan is senior pastor at First Baptist Sheridan.

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