“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
I remember one time that I proudly said that I don’t have a problem with pride. How far from the truth that was. Of course I have a problem with pride! I don’t have to be a braggart and make sure everyone knows how good I am to be proud. I can be proud privately in my heart. I have come to realize that pride can arise in many different ways. Let us look at a few.
Often in life we compete with other people. This can be in school where we get a grade for our efforts, or it can be in a game or sport that we participate in, or it may be merely arriving first at church assembly. If we win or we do better than someone else, we may experience pride in our accomplishment and feel that we are somehow better.
God has created us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). When we help someone in need of assistance, or share the gospel, or give when someone has a need, these are good works. Jesus described the scene when he will sit on his throne in glory: Mathew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” Doing good is important. But when we do good, are we filled with pride? Do we feel that because we did good that we are good or that we are somehow better than others who did not do what we did? If so, these may be feelings of pride.
The world even has pride in how bad they are. They tell each other all the bad things they have accomplished. A man may brag about the women with whom he has committed adultery. A boy may brag about the things he has stolen. A girl may be proud of the lies she has told. The apostle Paul describes those whose “glory is in their shame” (Philippians 3:19). While a Christian should never be proud of how bad he or she is, we sometimes take pride in the problems we have in our life such as the illnesses we suffer, the losses we have experienced, or the hardships we have had to endure.
As Christians, we can be proud of our salvation and our Bible knowledge. We can think that we are not like those others who are lost; we are better than they are because we are saved. We can think that we are superior to them because we know what the Bible says and we have obeyed it. That reminds me of the parable Jesus gave in Luke 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” We must be humble even in our salvation.
The problem often times is that we compare ourselves to someone else. We find those ways that we are better and that is where we take pride. 2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Not only would we not be wise but we may be guilty of pride.
God willing, I would like to continue next time with more examples of how we can be proud. In the meantime, let us grow more sensitive to the pride in our lives and instead be humble before our God.