Humility — Every Believer’s Super-Power — Defeats the Mighty Juggernaut of Idolatry

Janice Cappucci
3 min readJan 19, 2021

Even if you’re not a word nerd, your life could be transformed by understanding the etymology of the word juggernaut — used in our day to mean a massive vehicle or a force that crushes anything in its path. Here’s an abridged history of the word, according to Merriam-Webster:

“In the early 14th century, Franciscan missionary Friar Odoric brought to Europe the story of an enormous carriage that carried an image of the Hindu god Vishnu (whose title was Jagannath, literally, “lord of the world”) through the streets of India in religious processions. Odoric reported that some worshippers deliberately allowed themselves to be crushed beneath the vehicle’s wheels as a sacrifice to Vishnu.” [1]

Oh! What a great mental image to help us fight idolatry! Where do the idols in our hearts come from? Our desires that we’ve magnified to become demands. With a heart of pride, we elevate their importance; we make them preeminent, much like setting them on an enormous carriage. We treat them as if they are the “lord of the world.” In the worshipful procession, if other things or people are crushed in its path, that’s simply part of the sacrifice.

We can all think of prideful moments or seasons when things have gotten crushed in the path of our own personal juggernauts. But we also know that even a juggernaut can be dismantled, bit by bit, with growing humility. It’s a largely under-utilized weapon — humility is — but oh, how amazingly God uses it to deliver us from destructive choices.

What does humility look like compared to pride?

Pride says, “I am the king of my own life. My needs must not be denied. I must take matters into my own hands. I must find a way to meet my needs my own way, in the time frame I have decided upon. I refuse to consider that God may have something better for me. Likewise, I refuse to consider that my plan will grieve the Spirit, harm others, and sear my conscience.”

Indisputably, the all-time, world’s worst example of this kind of thinking is Judas’s betrayal of Jesus. In his mind and heart, his desires — political and personal — could not be denied. If he had any thoughts about how that attitude would harm others, they were thoroughly dismissed, a hindrance to getting his way. When your desires rule and reign — reign like a king — you are a juggernaut and everything in your path will be ground into the dirt.

Blind to his pride, Judas no doubt called it by another name — achieving his political ends, or whatever. Likewise, we must know pride crouches, hides, camouflages itself as virtue and otherwise deceives us into thinking we’re doing well.

In contrast, humility says, “God tells me to think of myself with sober judgement — to not think of myself more highly than I ought (Romans 12:3). Therefore, I must not act as if I’m the King of the universe. It’s not about my kingdom come, my will be done. I don’t actually have to have exactly what I want. Because I am certain of God’s love and care, I need not fret if I’ll get what I want or not. He will give me what I need. And there is lasting joy in bowing my knee to King Jesus.”

Ponder what South African pastor and teacher Andrew Murray wrote in 1895: “Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone assumes the right attitude before God and allows Him as God to do all.”[2] “[Humility] is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing.[3]

Beware, you bully juggernaut! Humility is putting on its cape and taking you on.


[2] Humility: The Beauty of Holiness; p.11. A free pdf download is available here:[id00000]!/4/2[id00000]/1:0)

[3] Ibid, p. 59)