A.W. Tozer on Pride

I want to share a passage I read a while ago that’s always stuck with me when I think about the issue of pride.  In Matthew 11.28-30, Jesus says this:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11.28-30 (NIV)

image What follows here is part of A.W. Tozer’s great work The Pursuit of God, where he discusses a bit of what he thinks Jesus means when referring to the burdens we carry around.  This is one of my go-to passages when I’m thinking about pride:

The burden borne by mankind is a heavy and a crushing thing.  The word Jesus used means "a load carried or toil borne to the point of exhaustion."  Rest is simply release from that burden.  It is not something we do; it is what comes to use when we cease to do.  His own meekness, that is the rest.

Let us examine our burden.  It is altogether an interior one.  It attacks the heart and the mind and reaches the body only from within.  First, there is the burden of pride.  The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed.  Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you.  As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who delight to offer affront to your idol.  How then can you hope to have inward peace?  The heart's fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest.  Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable.  Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringin under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them. 

Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear.  Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method.  The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.  He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, "Oh, so you have been overlooked?  They have placed someone else before you?  They ahve whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all?  And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself?  Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust.  Where is your consistency?  Come on, humble yourself and cease to care what men think."

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.  Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.  He has accepted God's estimate of his own life.  He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels.  In himself, nothing; in God, everything.  That is his motto.  He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.  He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values.  He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own.  Then the righteousness shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father.  He is willing to wait for that day.

In the meantime, he will have attained a place of soul rest.  As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him.  The old struggle to defend himself is over.  He has found the peace which meekness brings."

- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God


Mikey G said...

I like it. A friend from my Bible Study (Seth) lent me Tozer's "Knowledge of the Holy" on cd. I didn't dig the whole cd thing but found Tozer to be my kind of thinker.

Jeannette Ring said...

what a relevant passage!! thank you so much for taking the time to type this out!!

Jackson said...

Thanks. I hope to address pride a bit more in the near future, though I'm sure my thoughts won't be as eloquent as Tozer's.