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When I think of pride, I often visualize a long-robed Pharisee, parading along as his followers fawn adoringly in his presence. He’s soaking up the attention, loving the power he has over others as they hang on his every word. He goes home at night, fully satisfied within himself that he is not only right, but righteous; and everyone else is executing their proper diligence to bow before his every utterance and whim.
Oh, thank goodness I’m not like that, right?
Some would not agree with me. Sometimes I don’t agree with me.
Oh, I might think I’m pretty good at hiding how smug I feel at being right all most of the time. But I wonder how surprised I would be if I could peek into others’ thoughts once in a while.
That’s a scary scenario.
1 Corinthians 13.1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Pride: any time we think our way is better than God’s. Pride consists of the desire to control our world, of wanting things to happen our way, whether we think what is “right” should happen or not. Pride puts our own selves above God, instead of recognizing His rightful place on the throne of all. In essence, pride is wanting to be god. Pride can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some of them look really nice. (Of course, Satan can appear to us as an angel of light: 2 Corinthians 11.14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.)
Let us consider some of the faces and facets of pride. (NOTE: I do not want, in any way, to minimize or diminish results from traumatic experiences people have gone through. Sometimes really bad things happen. The following list of facets of pride is presented to help those of us who recognize it in ourselves, and who desire to confess before God and be right with Him.)
Fear (being afraid): The Bible is full of admonitions to “fear not.” It is a command, yet we fear. God understands. But fear is a lack of trust in what God is going to allow, a lack of trust in God’s consuming love for us. Jesus did not fear. Even when he sweat drops of blood, it was not driven by fear; He was dreading what was to come, certainly. Fear is a form of pride because we resort to it instead of trusting God.
Matthew 8.23-27 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Here, Jesus tells us that we need not fear, even death itself. Our lives and our time of death are in God’s hands. Wherever we are on our timeline, we are in God’s hands. 1 John 4.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We have only one thing to fear, and that is being separated eternally from God: Luke 12.5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Worry: Worry is highly related to fear, but we often call on worry as a lesser variety of fear. Again, worry stems from a desire that things would work out the way we think they should. And worry is not good for our physical, mental, or spiritual health, nor the health of those around us. If you are worried, please give it to God and let Him take care of the situation and you.
Insecurity: A cousin to fear and worry, insecurity arises when our circumstances are not peaceful enough for our comfort, when we feel we don’t have enough of something (safety, food, money, character, looks). Then we worry, or become fearful. Realize that God supplies all our needs, all the time. God may not view our needs the same way we do. In that case, we must revise our perspective. Another facet of insecurity is feeling like we’re not good enough (i.e., not enough of the kind of character we think we need). In this instance, to what are we comparing ourselves? More to the point, WHY are we comparing ourselves? And how is that affecting our relationship with God and with others? You are created in the image of God Himself. You are good enough, and God loves and cares for you, just as He loves and cares for everyone He created. If we start to think of serving other people instead of how we think others are looking at us, we will become more profitable servants of God.
Envy: Whether we want something that others have, or we don’t want others to have something, envy is a form of pride. We want to have it all, and we want to look better than others. Whether it’s looks, material possessions, comfort, love, respect, or other things, God supplies ALL our needs. Everyone has differing needs, and God supplies each according to need. Look to God, not to others.
Secrecy: John 3.20, 21 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. We keep secrets when we want to control the outcome. Secrets are kept in the dark until we decide which light should shine on them. (Understand, I differentiate between secrets and pleasant surprises.) Whether we keep a secret sin or we keep a secret truth that would hurt our relationships, God’s truth is in the light, and we must operate in the light. What we strive to keep in the darkness is something that we wish to keep from God. But God knows, anyway. Don’t let secrets fester. Confess and make reparations first with God, and then with others.
Shyness: Being shy is not cute, it is pride. Shyness is when we consider our own feelings above others’ feelings. Shyness, when coddled, can easily morph into a phobia. Shy is not correlational to humble. A Godly, humble person will hold friendly and frank relationships with others, and not turn away from those whom God puts in their path.
Lies: When we lie it is a grasp for control. Center on this crucial truth: we cannot control others; we can only control our own selves. When we lie, we tear down trust. Positive relationships are built on trust. Lies for “good” reasons are still lies. We may think we’re protecting someone (ourselves or another person) by telling a “white” lie; or we may think that we sway another person’s perspective when we lie. The control is not ours. God is always in control. And lying is a sin; when you lie, “ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32.23).
Gossip: Some gossip is outright lying. Some gossip is conveyance of truth, but done for the wrong reasons. What is the line between sharing prayer concerns, and gossip? Don’t be searching your own heart (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17.9). Ask God to search your heart (Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139.23, 24)
Haughty look: Haughty eyes and a proud heart – the guides of the wicked – are sin. (Proverbs 21.4) The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11.34) Sometimes our hearts leak out of our eyes. If your heart is pure, your eyes will shine with that truth. If your heart is tainted, if your motives are impure, it shows in your eyes.
Boasting: This is probably the most conventional indication of pride. The hearer usually picks up on it before the speaker does. If you feel you’ve been boasting, ask forgiveness and let it go. If you feel the need to defend your humble heart, that goes back to desiring to control the perspectives of others. Let God defend you. Luke 14.11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Know-it-all: I confess right here my pride in this area. I love to learn about all manner of information. I am a first-born daughter, and I also love to share what I learn. My motives are to improve the lives of others, to be a blessing, but my pride gets in the way when I press past sharing and into efforts to convince. “I know this stuff, doggone it, and I want to help you! Just listen to me!” That’s control. I don’t have control over others, and my prayer is that I converse in love, and stop talking before I dig into my flesh for more words.
I’m right!: This one is kinsman to Know-it-all. This one says, “This is the right way to look at this, and you should think this way, too.” Or, it says, “I can’t even talk to you if you don’t agree with this.” Such an attitude not only cuts off communication, it puts you in a world all by yourself, and you run the risk of overblowing yourself. This can only lead to a deeper downfall. Be open to new ideas and new information. Filter everything through the Word of God, and allow Him to be your Discerner of Truth. When you know the truth, it is certainly good to share it (in love: Ephesians 4.15 But speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ); but not to force it.
Unforgiveness: Don’t fall into the sin of not forgiving someone because you think they don’t deserve it. God has much to say about forgiveness; most alarming to me is Matthew 6.14, 15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. If we have not forgiveness, then we have not the love of God in our hearts. No one else is better, or worse, than you are.
Because of me: You think that everything that happens is because of you: You assume someone has a bad attitude because they have something against you. It’s raining because you wanted to go on a picnic. Your friend broke up with his girlfriend and you think it’s because you didn’t like her enough. My dear, you don’t have that much power. Give it up. The world does not revolve around you. Let others feel the way they want to feel, and look the way they want to look, and act the way they want to act. You have no control over them. When you feel led, interact with others and let God do His work.
People-pleasing: There is a difference between being a servant and being a people-pleaser. Jesus was a Servant; He was not a people-pleaser. 1 Thessalonians 2.4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, the One examining our hearts. We are to be patient, kind, good, and gentle (Galatians 5.22, 23), but we are to please God, not people. We are not to speak or act in ways that try to manipulate others’ feelings toward ourselves or circumstances. We are to do right, in a loving way; and we let God deal with others’ feelings and attitudes.
Pride is an ugly thing. Sometimes we try to paint it, make it look pretty. But it never works in God’s eyes. Pray for God’s eyes (wisdom).
Now love may be manifest in a multitude of works and ways; but the heart of love is God, for God is love (1 John 4.16).
The obverse and antidote for pride is love. It looks like surrender and submission. It looks like Jesus.