Proverbs Daily Devotionals
James Teyler, Sunday Services Creative Director
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
Jesus’ well-known parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 really shook me to the core a few years ago. Read through the parable again; I promise you won’t regret it. It is a powerful story of a father’s love for his two lost sons. Jesus leaves the end of the story hanging in the air. He doesn’t tell us what the older brother ends up choosing to do. Does the older brother forgive his younger brother? Does he realize and repent of his pride? Is the older brother and the father’s relationship restored? Or does the older brother run away now? Does his pride harden his heart more and more? Does he curse his father too?
I relate with the prideful, legalistic older brother so much more than with the younger brother. I think that’s why I so desperately hope that the older brother saw his pride in all of its ugliness. I hope he chose to forgive his brother. I hope he understood the unconditional love his father had for both himself and his younger brother. But I can’t help imagining what would have happened if he didn’t.
I love to write. It helps me process what’s going on in my head and heart. While I was wrestling through this parable a few years ago I wrote a song called Hollow Son as I processed through my own relationship with my Heavenly Father. The lyrics to this song is what I imagine could have happened if the older son chose to not forgive his brother and chose to hold on to his pride. It is a warning to myself what will happen if I hold onto my own pride.
Let me preface these lyrics with two things: 1) This is not Scripture. This is not the “second half to the story” that I found in some cave in Israel. This is my imagination. 2) Don’t try and find the music to this song. I promise, you will not like it. You have been warned :)
My castle sits high above the clouds for all to see.
I don’t want to brag, but if father were still here, he’d be proud to say the least.
My kingdom lies low, below my gates, beneath my feet.
I know brother is down there looking up at me with jealousy.
I’m the older one of my father’s sons. The lovable, deserving one. Look at all I've done.
Brother, the difference between you and I is that I've worked skin to bone for my whole life.
You stole your share. I slaved for mine. Saw you walk away, left this family behind.
You binged. You roamed. But all that old man remembered was dirty broke you coming home.
I’m glad he died. I took over and did things right.
Why am I cold inside? It’s been years since dance and music brightened these walls.
My failures haunt me. My screams echo down the dark empty halls.
Every success I’ve built this tower on lifts me further away from everyone.
I wish I could buy love; all I can afford is lust.
Drunk on myself, but this liquor's never strong enough.
Gained the world. Lost my soul.
Alone I sit and rot in this whitewashed tomb. I hate how he forgave you.
I wish it was me by his side at his death, but I couldn’t stand you, so I left.
I wondered why my people live in fear. No one names their sons after me.
Father now I see, it’s because you led like our servant. I lead a tyranny.
I’m not fit for a king. I wish you were still here to run things.
I wish you were here to tell me that you loved me.
Father, if you spoke today, I think you'd say, “I love you both just the same.
Nothing you could ever do can change that or take it away. Come back to me.”
I tried to keep you close, but I got in-between.
The cure to this world is found in humility.
The lowest man is he who thinks he's higher than the rest.
Forget yourself. Live humbly. Forget yourself. Live humbly.
Pride brings a person low. It dehumanizes us. It cuts us off from having a true relationship with others and with our God. Humility brings life. In Jesus’ parable, humility is the way the younger brother chooses to live by and is honored by his father. Living pridefully is absolute foolishness. Living humbly is living wisely.
May the following passage from Philippians 2:1-11 encourage us to follow Christ’s example of humility:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.