Walking with Jesus: Pride and self

As is often the way, the process of sharing God’s word brings about learning for the one that is sharing as well as those they are sharing with. For example, this article on pride. I have felt led to write on pride increasingly over the last few days until, finally, today I resigned myself to reluctantly deciding that I would get it over with. My reluctance to write may be influenced by my past experiences, where I helped to teach at bible groups at a university I attended. Given the audience and environment, I generally felt led to speak on subjects such as Gods love and grace, things that would encourage His children to draw closer to Him, rather than push them away. Hence, speaking on the corrective side of Christianity is not what I am most accustomed to. However, to refuse to do so when led, would in itself be an act of pride, whereby I would be considering my own feelings to be more important than sharing God’s word. Let that never be so!

So while I am a firm believer in  refraining from being judgemental, much preferring to encourage than rebuke; I am also a firm believer in following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask God’s forgiveness for my tardiness.

 Typically, pride most commonly arises for the self, but people can be proud of things to, such as status, cars, companies, achievements etc. In fact, for anything, which the person considers to be more important than God, other people or living as Christ would like them to. 

Simply put, pride is that which seeks to assert itself against God’s way, for the sake of having its own way. The part of us that decides we want to do and say whatever it is that we want, rather than that which may be the more Godly thing to do. 

Pride can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from the desire to put ourselves first, refusing to do things we consider beneath us, looking down on others we consider to be more lowly than ourselves (in any way) and desiring worldly status and praise etc. 

These are symptoms of thinking of yourself more highly than others, or at least wanting to be perceived as such, when we are told that we should consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). Therein lies the danger, pride puts you at risk of elevating your own self worth and opinion to a such a degree that it prevents you from showing the love and consideration commanded of us by Christ, the love that would identify us as His disciples (John 13:34-35; 14:21-24). In short, pride can lead us astray from the straight and narrow way which leads us back to God and our salvation (Matthew 7:12-14; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Proverbs 4:26-27, 12:28, 14:2,12, 15:10).

How does God see Pride:

God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), in Proverbs 6:16-19, a “proud look” is listed as one of the seven things that God hates as they are an abomination to Him. God also names pride as one of the sins of Sodom, which He destroyed (Ezekiel 16:49; Genesis 19:1-29).

It makes God weep when our pride stops us from hearing Him as it shows that His flock, you, have been taken captive (Jeremiah 13:15-17).

God warns us to turn us from our sin and instructs us so that “He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride”  thereby saving us from destruction (Job 33:14-18). In Zephaniah 3:11-12, He speaks of when He will remove the proud, exulting people and haughtiness, leaving a humble people in their place.

Consequences of Pride:

Pride is not of God (1 John 2:16), it deceives you (Obadiah 1:3), defiles you (Mark 7:20-23); hardens the spirit (Daniel 5:20); brings you low (Proverbs 29:23), adorns the wicked (Psalms 73:1-6) and is a sign of a fool (Proverbs 14:3) and a scoffer (Proverbs 21:24). It can also explain a lack of response from God (Job 35:12).

Remaining proud leads to: shame (Proverbs 11:2); strife (Proverbs 13:10); destruction (Proverbs 16:18); captivity (Jeremiah 13:17) and leads to God to bringing about the fall of the proud (Amos 6:8; Obadiah 1:3-4). It was in fact pride that lead to the downfall of the devil and we are warned against becoming puffed up with pride lest we fall into the same condemnation (1 Timothy 3:6).

How To Deal With Pride:

Jesus named pride as one of the evil things which comes from the heart of men and defiles them (Mark 7:20-23). This makes it clear that pride is something we should seek to eliminate from our lives and the bible provides guidance on how to do this.

Pride can lead to us trying to do things in our own strength and according to our own plans, rather than God’s. If done knowingly, this is prideful arrogance for those who call Him master. The bible gives us excellent advice telling us to  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are warned against boasting about our own plans, such boasting being called evil, and are advised to say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-17). This acknowledges who the Boss in your life is and invites God to redirect you if He would rather you did something else (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21).

Pride may cause you to want others to recognise how special you believe yourself to be, when in reality, we are meant to be here to show people how special God is. The apostle Paul warned everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think“, which is surely a work of pride (Romans 12:3). Rather, we should seek to emulate the selflessness modelled by the life of Jesus and in the words of Paul who said “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). If we truly lay down our lives, pick up our cross daily and die to self as we were instructed to do  there would be no self left to want recognition for (Matthew 10:38; 16:24, Luke 9:23-24).

As Christians we are told that we are to lay aside the old self (or old man) and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-32) and that we should not walk in the flesh, but walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). The works (or deeds) of the flesh listed by Paul in verses 19-21 could all be said to have their roots in pride, for if we thought more of others and less of ourselves, we would not exhibit behaviours such as hatred and selfish ambitions. Conversely, the fruits of the spirit he lists (before concluding with a warning for us not to become conceited) include love, longsuffering, peace and other desirable characteristics which a person struggling with pride might find difficult to attain (Galatians 5:22-26).

Thus part of our daily christian walk should be to emulate those characteristics encouraged and modelled by our Lord. To lay down the self and pride which, while it may seem to be protecting us and our desires, is actually destroying us from within. Pride is like a virus that contaminates us and those in the world around us, the only cure for which is a true revelation of Gods love and deciding to walk in that love day by day.

While we will all struggle with elements of pride/self while we are here, it is how we view and treat pride when it arises that defines us. When we see that there is pride in us, let us deal with it in the way God would desire, repent and ask Him for forgiveness and guidance. If your pride has caused offence to others, then go to make ammends with them as we are advised (see earlier post on Dealing with Offences). We are told to take up our cross daily, likewise, we have to lay down our self daily too, this includes our pride. For surely, if there was no self, there would be no pride!


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