“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
The important thing to understand about pride is that when we are proud we take the glory to ourselves rather than give it to God. We take the credit for ourselves rather than give it to God. We think we are self-sufficient rather than acknowledge our dependence on God. In a way, it tends toward worshiping our self rather than worshiping God.
It usually feels good to receive a complement. You may be complemented on how you look, how you have done something well, or even how many years you have been married. There are many areas in your life where you can receive a complement. The question is, how do you receive the complement? Does the complement make you feel proud? Do you feel like you are superior and that fact has just been validated by the complement? You don’t have to feel proud when you receive a complement. You can take the complement as an opportunity to praise and glorify God for giving you what you have or enabling you to do what you did. You can also take the complement as an encouragement and accept the complement as feedback as to whether or not you are headed in the right direction. My encouragement to you is that you not accept complements with pride. Remember King Herod who was complemented by the people of Tyre and Sidon and he was filled with pride (Acts 12:20-23). The Lord struck him that he died.
We can be proud of our possessions. It could be something costly like a car or house, or inexpensive like a cell phone or a toy. If we have it and someone else doesn’t, or if ours is better than theirs, we can be proud of our possession. We need to remind ourselves that we belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If we belong to God, then everything that we possess also belongs to God. If God chooses to bless us with possessions, be thankful and give glory to God.
In the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14, the servants were entrusted with talents (money), and the amount they were given, five, two or one, was based upon their ability. Have you ever considered whether you are a one talent servant or a five talent servant, whether you have few abilities or many abilities? It doesn’t matter because all of us are held accountable to the master. The one talent servant in the parable was severely punished for not using what he was given. Whatever ability you have, you need to realize it came from God and needs to be used to glorify God. How then can you be proud of any ability that you have that came from God?
I think the one verse that has helped me the most with pride is 1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” What have we received from God? Everything! We have received from Him our physical attributes, our mental attributes, our abilities, our possessions and our very lives. He enabled us to accomplish everything we have done. Everything we could take pride in ultimately comes from God. “Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
Since we are to avoid pride, does that mean that we need to see ourselves as nothing and that we can accomplish nothing? Should we feel bad even if we have done something well? I believe that the following verse puts things into perspective. Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Since God has given each of us talents or abilities and many other blessings, he expects us to use them for His glory. I believe we can feel good about the good things we do for him if we still give him the glory. The problem is when we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think and when we take the credit to ourselves. We can, however, go to the other extreme and think more lowly than we ought to think and accomplish nothing and feel bad about everything that we do. Neither is correct. We need to think and judge ourselves soberly, with the appropriate amount of esteem.
God willing I would like to continue next time with more examples of how we can be proud. In the meantime, let us work on being humble before our God.