“Pride goes before a fall” is an expression many of us have heard. I have personally experienced this in my workplace, in my ministry and in my relationships. Funny thing about pride – we can often spot it in others but fail to see it in ourselves – often before it is too late.
Think of pride as an exalted sense of who you are in relation to other people and to God himself. Pride that points back to God is a good thing. Pride that points to us is not. When Paul takes pride in the growth of the early church or boasts of the many trials he has faced he is doing this to give God the glory. It is not about what Paul himself has accomplished but what God has done for and through Paul.
Have you ever taken the time to ask God to show you areas of pride in your own life? Or asked a family member or close friend where they see it playing out in your life in a negative way?
Here are some questions to consider as you look at how pride plays out for you:
Do you ever think of yourself as better than the people around you?
Do you feel that your way of doing things is often, if not always, the better way?
Does your sense of self-worth come from what you physically own or have personally accomplished?
Do you think your child, spouse, job or house are better than other people’s?
Do you dwell on past successes and not on present challenges?
Do you want people to notice when you do something good for someone else?
James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart, be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” It seems to me that if I do not choose to humble myself – God will.
At various points in my Christian walk I have read books and heard speakers who have encouraged me to humble myself. I was always uncomfortable with this teaching. I was blind to my own pride - often calling it “a healthy self-image.” Humility did not seem to be an attribute I wanted to cultivate.
Think of humility as having a realistic sense of who you are in relation to God and to the people around you. It is being honest about who and what you are. Being humble includes finding your identity in Christ and not in anything that you have, do, or accomplish.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
When our focus moves from ourselves to others we go from being self-centered to outward focused. In an egocentric culture, completely focused on self, this outward focus on others becomes a powerful witness to the people around us. Which will you choose today – pride or humility?
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Forgive me for the sin of pride. May it be pulled out by the roots and replaced with a humility that puts you and others before myself. Amen.