In today’s post I’m going to be exploring what I believe to be the most common heart issue we have as sinful human beings: pride.
The word pride originally came from the word pryto to mean unreasonable self-esteem; haughtiness; pomp; love of display. In fact, in its early use, pride was written with a capital P and it was one of the seven deadly sins.
A few centuries later, however, the word pride took on a new use: reasonable self-respect. In effect, people started using it to explain their deep satisfaction or delight regarding their own or other people’s achievements.
Finally, in more recent years, the word pride has taken another use as it has been attached to gay right movements.
As a linguist, I find these expansions in use fascinating. But as a Christian, I also find them somewhat disturbing.
It perturbs me that a word that was originally used solely to convey an attitude of haughtiness and described a sinful attitude is now being used as a word to describe a collective sense of acceptance and even delight in homosexuality. Ironically, the act of homosexuality is a sin against God.
So, perhaps it’s best to go back to the basics. What does God say about pride?
What does God say about pride?
The vast majority of Bible verses that mention pride use its negative meaning in which there is an attitude of haughtiness, arrogance, and vanity.
James 4:6 says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”
Proverbs 8:13 says: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech.”
Proverbs 16:5 says: “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” and Proverbs 11:2 says: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
These verses may seem pretty harsh to the modern mind, but the Bible is very clear that God hates vanity, arrogance, and self-righteousness apart from God (which is not righteousness at all!).
1 Corinthians 13 says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
It’s interesting to note that, according to the passage above, pride is a lack of love. It’s about exalting oneself. Considering oneself better than others. Considering oneself deserving.
What is the answer to pride?
The answer to letting go of pride and growing in humility is this: revelation of who God is.
When we truly understand that God alone is worthy to be worshipped we no longer fall into pride. We see all human beings as less than God, and therefore we put no one on a pedestal (including ourselves!)
As we reflect on the truth that God is holy and we are all sinners in need of His abundant grace, we no longer look down at others or at ourselves in self-righteousness. Instead, we look up to God in humility.
In fact, it’s when we understand who God is, and who we’re not that we grow in humility. As we gain knowledge regarding the attributes that make God distinct from us, and therefore completely unique, we grow in humility.
God is holy. God is sovereign. God is self-existing. God is omnipresent. God is unique.
When it comes to dealing with self-righteous pride, the only solution is an understanding of God’s Holiness. The fact that God is Holy means He cannot be in close fellowship with sin.
Yet, there are those who choose to ignore their sin, or excuse it with good reasons for why it exists as if they were victims of sin, rather than perpetrators. And it’s only when they have a revelation of God’s holiness, that they both recognise their sin for what it is, and they fall on their knees in humility.
That was the case when Isaiah had a revelation of God’s holiness in Isaiah chapter 6:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:1-5)
The truth is, the only way we can dispose of our pride is to focus on God’s character and the attributes that make Him unique from creation.
These are both communicable attributes (those that we too can possess, but only to a finite extent):
- rational thought
And incommunicable attributes (those that cannot be shared with His creation):
These incommunicable attributes, when properly understood spiritually lead us to: humility, reverance for God, worship.
Growing in confident humility as a child of God
The more we know God, the more we gain humility. Yet, it is a secure humility.
As children of God, we approach His throne of grace with confidence. Not confidence in ourselves, but in Jesus’ blood that cleanses us from all iniquity.
If self-righteousness and self-confidence are the causes of pride, faith in God is the cause of secure humility.
While the proud believe they deserve a place in heaven, the humble acknowledge God as Holy, and they realize their need for a saviour. Thus, they gratefully accept their new identity and position in Jesus in the full knowledge that they did nothing to deserve it.
It’s all from Him. About Him. And for Him.
Often pride is focus on one’s own abilities, righteousness, achievements. Pride is caused by an inflated view of oneself in relation to others.
The solution to this pride is not to see ourselves as inferior to others. Because the focus here is still on us. Not only that, but as human beings made in the image of God, we have all have beautiful attributes and strenghths, but the limitedness of humanity as well as the flesh.
So the real solution to pride is not looking at ourselves or looking at others. The solution to pride is looking to God. That is what will finally cure us from our self-love and help us to grow in true humility.
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