Vol. 3, No. 4
“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look…” (Proverbs 6:16-19). Pride is a “respectable sin” with man, but it is an abomination with God. “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord…” (Proverbs 16:5). Pride is antithetical to the very nature of God. He says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the spirit of the contrite one” (Isaiah 57:15).
What is a “proud look”? How do we identify it? Three factors are prominent. 1. Pride looks highly on self. 2. Pride looks lowly on others. 3. Pride looks falsely on God.
Jesus said, “Two went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess'” (Luke 18:10-12). The Pharisee had a proud look, because he looked highly on self. He confessed his own goodness rather than his evil ways. He had his eyes lifted up in prayer, not on God, on himself.
He was so thankful he was not like others. Everyone who exalts himself will be abased (Luke 18:14). The world looks at the self-promoter as ambitious, aggressive and a go-getter, but the Lord says to his disciples, “…It shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:20-28). More of us need the attitude of Paul who said, “For I am the least…who am not worthy…But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).
A proud look is one which not only looks highly on self, but also looks lowly on others. There exists the tendency to look down one's nose at those whose educational attainments are below ours, or to shun those who live “across the tracks” and who wear clothes which are not as fine as ours or snub those whose social or economic positions are lower than ours. However, Paul wrote, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 12:16).
Jesus spoke the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector to those who were self-righteous and “despised others” (looked lowly on others) (Luke 18:9). The Pharisee looked down on others because of their sins. He said, “I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). A preacher informed two brethren of another brother who had fallen into sin. The preacher asked the two brethren, “What would you have done if you had been this brother.” The first said, “I am sure I never would have done the terrible thing he did!” However, the second brother humbly responded, “I might have fallen lower than he did.” The preacher then said the second brother was who he wanted to take with him as he went to talk to the fallen brother. If our hearts are in the right place, we cannot look down because the ground is level at the foot of the cross. As brother Ritchie used to tell us in Bible class at Harding, evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find food (cf. Matthew 5:3).
The ultimate evil in a proud look may be that it looks falsely on God. A self-centered look cannot be a God-centered look. The Pharisee (Luke 18:11) did not properly look on God. His prayer does not manifest any recognition of his need for God but consists of a proud, conceited, arrogant notice of himself. There is no deep awareness of his “nothingness” without God (cf. John 15:5). God does not need us to inform him of our “goodness,” but we need him to impart to us his grace.
The tax collector prayed a great prayer. It was not great because of human eloquence but because of divine reliance. Bankrupt in spirit, he “standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). So unworthy did he feel that he stood afar off, would not raise his eyes to heaven, beat his breast and identified himself as a sinner. However, so conscious was he of his need for God that he prayed to God, pleaded with God and petitioned God for his mercy to meet the deep need of his soul.
Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector claimed no personal glory. A proud look fails to give God the glory (cf. Acts 12:21-23). Unlike the Pharisee in Jesus' parable, we have Paul, himself a Pharisee, who, as the tax collector, claimed no personal glory but manifested both the true view of God and self, when he wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief. ... To God, who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:15, 17).