Haman was a proud man.
In English, we sometimes use the word “proud” in a neutral or even positive way. We might say that a person is “proud” of their son, meaning that they love their son and are pleased by the kind of person he has become. A soldier might be said to be “proud” of his country, by which we mean that he loves his country, its people and the ideals it represents. Sometimes we say a person is a “proud man” because he has principles, and refuses to get involved in the nonsense that others try to lure him into.
Haman was the other kind of proud. Haman had likely risen to high position under the Babylonian Empire. When that empire gave way to the Persians, the hierarchy was shaken up. Some of the ethnic groups that had been persecuted during the time of Babylon - such as the Jews - suddenly were allowed to participate in society and even began to gain influence at court. Suddenly, people that Haman once considered slaves (like Mordecai) were beginning to act like his equals. Haman’s pride couldn’t tolerate this new world. It wasn’t enough that he was powerful, wealthy, and well-regarded at court. His pride demanded that he be the most powerful, the wealthiest, and that everyone bow before him.
That is pride at its essence - a dark, sinister desire to have all attention, all focus, all love, and all light fall on you and only you. The “and only you” is no mere writer’s flourish - it is the very essence of the sin. All other vices are more or less content to stay in their own lane, and mind their own business. Gluttony cares about filling its stomach, but isn’t offended that others get to eat too. The same goes for Sloth, Greed and Wrath - each wants what it wants, but isn’t much bothered if others get a taste as well.
But not pride. Pride doesn’t care how much food it gets, as long as everyone else gets less. Greed might make you want a lot of money, but Pride wants you to have more - it has to have a bigger pile than everyone else (even if it has to get by with less). Wrath might lead a person to punch his enemy, but Pride demands that he be destroyed - not because the man poses any threat, but just to show him that you are stronger.
C.S. Lewis once said of pride, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” (Mere Christianity) The essential problem with Pride is that it desires to be worshiped, to be god, and finds that the position is already filled. If we are to worship the true God - and experience the joy, purpose and fulfillment that comes from doing so - we first have to give up the idolatry of self.
Where does pride show up in your life? What situations cause you to puff out your chest and “demand what’s mine?” Are you more concerned with being good, or looking like you are?
Ask God to show you where pride has taken root in your life, and ask for his help ridding yourself of it and accepting that He is Lord - not you.
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