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Last in the Esther Series – The Pride of Haman April 27, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Uncategorized.
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THE PRIDE OF HAMAN

Esther 6:1-14

 

The main message of the book of Esther is how that God’s providence works in the world. There is, however, a secondary example of pride in the person of Haman that we want to look at today. We want to see the characteristics of his pride and then understand how that we might protect ourselves against the sin of pride.

CHARACTERISTICS OF HAMAN’S PRIDE

 

Haman’s pride was ruthless (compare verse 4 with 3:5-6). We read about Haman and look down are noses at him but he was born just as innocent as you and I. What happened? Haman became successful. We do not know the exact manner in which he rose to power but it is obvious that he came to the place of great success. With great success came pride and this pride made him ruthless. No price was to high to exact to protect his position, his power, his prestige, his sources of pride. Long before Haman was destroyed outwardly, he had rotted on the inside. His very manner of walking must have said, “Look at me! Honor me!” When Mordecai refused to bow before Haman, he recognized in Mordecai a threat. It was not enough though to destroy Mordecai. He chose to conspire to destroy a whole nation in order to save his dignity and his pride (3:7-15).

Haman seems a bit paranoid, does he not? He had nothing to fear from Mordecai. Certainly, he had nothing to fear from the Jewish people. Still his proud anger was such that he felt that nothing short of complete annihilation would satisfy the wrong that Mordecai had committed.

We need to learn a lesson from Haman. Pride leads us down the road that causes us to use people and then discard them when we do not need them anymore. James 4:1-10 is a clear picture of how this looks in the church. It is our pride that causes us to fuss and fight. It is pride that covets what others have. I deserve that. I am just as good and hard working as they are. Why cannot I have what my heart desires. It is pride that pollutes our prayer life and cuts us off from the grace of God.

It causes us to refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It causes us to gossip behind folk’s back, degrading them with the swords of our tongues. Pride does not care who gets hurt as long as pride is honored. Pride chooses sides and focuses on human leaders and movements and not on God.

James tells us how to deal with pride. Submit ourselves to God. Understand your relationship to the greatness and grace of God. Humble yourself.

PRIDE IS DELUSIONAL!

Haman’s pride was presumptuous (verses 6-7). While Haman’s pride was ruthless because of his paranoia to protect himself from all danger, his pride was also presumptuous because it had deluded him to the reality of his place in the kingdom. He had overrated his own importance.

 

He presumed that he was the one to be honored (verse 6). Can you imagine Haman as he enters into the throne room and hears the request of the king, “No one can stop me now. The king has singled me out for special honor. As soon as I get through telling the king how to honor me, I am going to hang Mordecai high so that all can see that no one, I mean, no one can touch me.” But like the old cowboy once said, “There ain’t no horse that cain’t be rode, and there ain’t no cowboy that cain’t be throwed.”

His presumption caused him to answer foolishly (verse 7). Arrogance makes men think they are invincible. The past governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, is only one of a number of most recent examples of men of power who thought they were invincible. He termed himself a “steam roller,” threatening all who might stand against him but one he was exposed for who he was, the mighty governor became the laughingstock of the world.

We need in this modern age to understand that we are susceptible to the same pride to which Haman fell. We live in a world that encourages us to think we can do it all that there are no limits on human potential. Ray Pritchard once said it this way, “The next time you feel the need to brag about what you’ve done, pay attention to that faint cracking sound. It’s the thin ice beneath your feet that is about to give way.”

There was a church recorded in the Bible that had this problem. Turn to Revelation 3:14-20. The church of Laodocia proclaimed, “We are rich and have need of nothing,” but they did not realize that they were spiritually bankrupt and blind and were disgusting to God. They were self-satisfied like lukewarm water. We need according to this passage to learn to see ourselves as God sees us and then turn to him to fill our lack, otherwise, we will remain spiritually delusional in our pride.

THE ANTONYM OF PRIDE:  SOBRIETY (THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF REALISTICALLY)

Romans 12:3-5 explains the attitude that we as believers need to have to combat pride. To be sober-minded, that is, not prideful, involves two things. First, to understand that Christ is my head, the authority over me, without Christ I am worthless. Secondly, I as a believer am a member of my fellow believers in Christ, without them I have no function in Christ’s kingdom.

 

This sober-minded attitude is rare but occasionally we see it in others.

“On his way to a reception held in his honor, Ulysses S. Grant got caught in a shower and offered to share his umbrella with a stranger walking in the same direction. The man said he was going to Grant’s reception out of curiosity; he had never seen the general. ‘I have always thought that Grant was a much overrated man,’ he said. ‘That’s my view also,’ Grant replied.”

Quoted in The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes, Reader’s Digest, October, 1994, p. 142

Haman’s pride was insatiable (verses 7-9).

Haman was already the second most powerful man in Shushan under the king himself (3:1-2).

The king had already commanded that everyone pay homage to Haman (3:2-3).

Haman thirsted for more. He had a compulsive drive for power and prestige.

“Pop” psychology tells us this stems from our fear of dependence on someone else. I do not doubt that there is some element of truth to that statement. We want to be the most powerful, the most popular because we only then we can be safe and significant in this world. Is it possible that the pride that drives you and me is the thirst to be safe, the thirst to become someone who needs no one, not even God?

“Human pride is a tricky thing. Ambition is not wrong, competition is not wrong, winning is not wrong, celebrating your victories is not wrong, being the best is not wrong but it is never entirely innocent either. Sin always lurks in the neighborhood somewhere. And usually not too far away. [Why? Because] when you have gotten money or power or prestige or fame or friends in high places, you think you do not need God.” (Ray Pritchard in The Tower That Fell).

PRIDE’S FALL RESULTS IN EITHER HUMILITY OR HUMILIATION.

Haman’s pride led to humiliation and eventually destruction (verses 10-14). Sometimes when God humiliates us, it is for our good. An excellent example is Nebuchadnezzar who thought that he had achieved the pinnacle of earthly power through his own might and wisdom. God, however, revealed to him that for seven years, he would be humiliated. He would driven into the fields to eat grass with the cattle because he would not know who he was. After those seven years God allowed him to come to his senses and we find him honoring and glorifying God as the Almighty One whose power extends even to the throne rooms of the world. Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation led to a realization of who God is. Haman was not so fortunate.

The Bible makes it clear that pride goes before destruction. History gives us plenty of examples of this also. The scandals we read and see and hear of constantly reveal this to us and yet we find ourselves falling into that same trap as Christians over and over again. We have been looking in our 1 Corinthians in the adult Sunday School classes at how that pride was affecting the church there. Not only were they fighting and fussing with each other but they were ignoring serious sin in the church because they were puffed up with pride. It was affecting every aspect of their lives. Their worship was tainted by pride. In fact, Paul said that some were sick and some were dead because God refused to ignore their prideful behavior.

 

Pride shows itself in so many ways. It shows itself in the shame and depression I feel when a decision I make reveals my weakness. It shows itself when I push to have things my way at all costs. It shows when I refuse to listen to the other side of the argument. It shows when I do not attempt something for fear that I will fall short. It shows when my love of possessions, prestige, popularity, security, significance are greater than my love of Christ. And yet I cannot help it. The pride of life is just as much a part of my natural being as the lust of my flesh. The pride of life is just as much a part of my worldly nature and the lust of my eyes.

 

THE CURE

Harry Ironside tells how as a young man he desired to beat down the pride that naturally lived within him. A friend of him suggested that he put on a sandwich board with Bible verses written on it and go down the streets quoting the Bible verses at the top of his lungs. Ironside did this and when he got back, he took the sandwich board off and thought, “Ironside, only you could do such a thing as this.” Ironside learned that the secret to defeating pride is not self-humiliation or self-deprecation.

 

How then do we win over our pride? The answer is two fold. Know yourself and know Christ. This sermon has primarily dealt with knowing yourself. We all have a lot more of Haman in us than we would like to admit. We must recognize who we really are, sinners. Someone asked me a question about repentance yesterday. In a sense, this is the beginning of repentance, seeing myself as a sinner. If I stop there though, there is no hope for me. I must turn to Christ, the one who deserves my praise, my honor, my glory.

In a real sense the method of dealing with pride is the same as the method of salvation and forgiveness. First, I must recognize who I really am. I am a sinner. Then, if I am to be anything or to become anything of eternal significance, it will be in Jesus Christ alone. Folks, if you do not accept Christ as Savior it will be for one of two reasons. Either you do not recognize who you truly are as a sinner or you do not recognize that only in Christ is eternal life. Only in Christ can you become a child of God.

 

Next Week: Our Thoughts Guided by God’s Word – Psalm 1.

 

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Comments»

1. ROY THOMAS - May 20, 2010

Good message. Reflections:
A bit of Haman.. in everyone of us! More than we would like to admit!
He was riding the high horse of pride that was galloping away..taking them both for a dreadful fall. RoyT


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