Have you ever thought of yourself as a prideful person? Is pride a constant companion, whose presence you enjoy, or did it make its home in your heart by subtle and sneaky ways and you are not even aware of its presence? Does pride have consequences? Does it even matter?
Just so that we are all on the same page about the meaning of “pride,” the Merriam-Webster dictionary provides the following descriptions of pride:
: a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people
: a feeling that you are more important or better than other people
Do any of these descriptions apply to you?
I was pretty sure that the first two never applied to me, while the third one, (where I feel happy at the accomplishments of my husband and children), I would admit to having at any given time. Who wouldn’t?
See, I always considered myself to be pretty humble. After all, I was raised in a family where compliments and praise were not showered freely (the reasoning, I believe, was to prevent pride).
I also suffered from low self-esteem as a teenager for years. Pride was the last thing I could have worried about, or so I thought…
Little did I know.
I let pride make its home in my heart. It crept in like the slithering, lying serpent in the Garden of Eden, whispering its lies into my ears.
Apparently such a thing does exist. And it makes a comfortable nest in the hearts of many sincere believers.
Positions within the church (pastors, deacons, ministry leaders, worship team leaders, Sunday school teachers, etc), our ministries, giving to charity — all of these can be used by the enemy to sow a seed of spiritual pride.
We start comparing ourselves to other believers around us and pride takes root. It doesn’t take long and pride becomes a deeply rooted, mighty tree.
You see, no one is exempt from having spiritual pride. Especially when we start believing that salvation is not enough, and that works are crucial to earning God’s approval of ourselves.
Please, do not get me wrong here. Works come as a sure result of genuine faith. I love James 2:14-26 passage that deals with this issue.
However, there are those who are either taught, or develop a belief, that works (ministry, good deeds, etc) will somehow make God more pleased with us.
We start to resemble little kids who try to outdo each other with house chores around the house, believing they will earn some brownie points from their parents. Meanwhile, the kid who compares his accomplishments to the other siblings, doesn’t even realize that pride built a home in his heart.
I fast more often that anybody I know. I pray and read the Bible at least an hour every day. I witness on the streets of my city. I go to mission trips all the time. I feed the homeless. I don’t listen to secular music. I don’t watch TV…
I, I, I…
I am not writing this to stir you up, dear friend. If the Holy Spirit convicts you, that’s awesome! Don’t feel condemned, but rejoice in being convicted, because you have a chance to repent and ask the Lord to free you of this thing called spiritual pride.
The Lord was merciful to point this out to me, and I am only thankful that He did. Pride was something I always knew God abhorred, and I couldn’t wait to be rid of it, as the Holy Spirit illuminated this dark spot in my heart…
Why is pride such a big deal?
Do we all remember why Lucifer, a powerful cherub with special responsibilities, was thrown down from Heaven?
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
Then we read in the first chapters of Genesis how sin came into humanity (Genesis 3:1-13). “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'” (vs. 4-5).
Was it pride that was sown into Eve’s heart with the serpent’s words “you will be like God?” There is certainly more to Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden. I only want to point out a possibility that the serpent used pride as one of the weapons to deceive Eve.
Is this why God abhors pride so much? I do not know. However, God’s Word has plenty to say about pride. The following are just a few verses picked from the Scriptures, but they give a clear idea of just how much God detests pride. These passages also describe the cost of pride.
“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” Proverbs 29:23
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Romans 12:16
“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” Proverbs 21:4
“For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” Psalm 138:6
Thank you, Father, for revealing your truths to me and for illuminating the dark spots of pride in my heart!
How do we get rid of spiritual pride?
One of the ways the Lord revealed my own spiritual pride, and led me to recognition of my pride and repentance of it, was one sermon I came across quite incidentally. Divine intervention was more like it!
It was a teaching by Zac Poonen, where he talked about spiritual pride. Zac made one example that stuck with me.
He said that pride is always relative. For instance, a boy comes home and tells his parents that he scored 70% (got a “C”) on his math exam. He is happy and full of pride and his parents are happy and full of pride. But, you see, the boy was in a class where everyone else received Ds and Fs on their exams. Put the same boy in a class where students study more and are more gifted in math, and this boy’s pride will give way to humility.
Who do we compare ourselves with when it comes to our spiritual “level?” We can always find someone who doesn’t go to as many mission trips, or someone who doesn’t fast as much, someone who doesn’t pray as long, someone who doesn’t witness to the lost as much, someone who is not as loving, generous, humble, merciful, kind, etc.
What if the only person we ever compared ourselves with was Jesus?
Would pride even have a chance of being in our hearts if Jesus was the only one we aspired to be like?
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