Pride

Pride

Pride falls into two camps, one where a person feels good having achieved or accomplished something, the other, where a person is filled with their own righteousness and self-worth. The first type is generally acceptable and good and the second is that which God actively opposes. The difficulty exists that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish which side pride may fall into, because a lot rests upon the individual’s attitude and motive as to why they may choose to say or do something, and this may not always be obvious to outsiders. The added problem is that pride can be lurking in the background of lives without our realising it - yet few recognise its danger and how it can hinder our walk and relationship with God, and in today’s climate pride is fostered, encouraged and promoted. Believe it or not, everyone suffers from pride to one degree or another - yet this problem is not always recognised. 

Pride is when we think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3), which can be seen when we frequently correct others in trying to make ourselves look better, or when we promote our accomplishments or achievements at the expense of others - and underestimating or playing down who we are or what we’ve done or achieved is also a disguised pride. Therefore pride has a lot to do with the motives and attitudes of our heart, yet it is often seen as  arrogant, boastful and an over-confidence in one’s own righteousness and abilities. However, shyness and timidity can often be pride under a different guise. On the other hand we know how much pride is in our hearts when we are ignored or snubbed by others and what our thoughts and attitudes to them are as a result.

The scriptures show that satan was thrown out of God’s presence because of pride, when he tried to take God’s place. This reveals why God actively opposes the proud, because they are filled with their own righteousness and cannot admit that they are wrong and in need of God’s forgiveness, help and mercy! In the Bible we read of the religious leader who focused upon his own righteousness and abilities and expected to be heard by God. However, because of his prideful attitude God turned a deaf ear to his prayer, whilst another man who had been a scoundrel cried out to God for mercy and was heard by the Almighty (Luke 18:9-14).   

A number of years ago, I was listening to someone who was going to do a public performance. Before they started, a public apology was made as to the lack of finesse of their presentation. Listeners were asked to overlook their mistakes and the lack of professionalism that was going to take place. As I listened to the performance, a mischievous thought went through my mind, wondering what would be the response if afterwards, I went up to them and said, "I have to agree with you - it was hopeless!". Even though I was tempted, I decided it best not to say anything. Some time later, I was in a different setting and at the end of the performance, I went up to thank the performer for his contribution. His response was, "Don't thank me, thank Jesus", meaning that it was Jesus speaking through him. I surprised myself by replying, "It wasn't that good!". The look on his face said it all! I assume that both of these individuals were using different approaches to conceal their pride. Paul boasted and spoke of his suffering as well as his failures as a Christian, but always turned it round in giving glory to God for the help and grace he received from Him as a result!

The fashion industry goes to great lengths to appeal to a person’s pride in trying to persuade individuals to purchase their product by making them believe that they would appear to be more attractive or acceptable if they had that particular product. 

There are many examples in the scriptures where people battled pride. Samson took the credit for his great strength (Judges 15:14-17), whilst Naaman was almost not healed of his leprosy because he couldn’t bring himself to dip in a dirty river (2 Kings 5:12) all because of pride! The wise man of Proverbs states that pride causes quarrels (13:10) and strife. Jesus' disciples argued amongst themselves as to which one would be the greatest (Mark 9:34), which no doubt came from hearts filled with their own importance (Luke 18:11-14) and righteousness.

The best way of addressing pride is firstly to have a right understanding of the nature and goodness of God - knowing that He loves and cares for us - after all He gave Himself for us entirely. Then through Jesus’ sacrifice for sin we have been adopted into His family as His children, and with humility and thankfulness to God for who and what we are because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Knowing who God is and our identity in Him will help us to live our lives as we really are - without any pretence. If you are congratulated for some achievement or other, say ‘Thank you’, and then afterwards, thank God for the help, strength and ability He has given to enable you to complete the task. Don’t fall into the trap of excessively promoting yourself and / or your skills or abilities - social media is a good way of keeping in touch with others, but we can feed our pride if we’re not careful, by our wish to get the maximum number of favourable comments from others - thereby causing us to do or say things that will obtain the desired response!