In my previous blog I talked about our desire to be a great church, which according to Jesus is a humble, serving church. I now want to build on that by talking about the dangers of pride, which needs to be overcome if we are to be truly humble.
1. Pride was the first sin and the root of all sin.
“Pride,” John Stott writes, “is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.”
Adam wanted to be like God, humans still do, we don’t want to acknowledge our dependence on Him.
Pride is self-glorification – giving ourselves glory – only God is worthy of glory. I am not at the centre of the Universe; the planets do not revolve around me.
The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.
Pride, in its simplest form, boils down to a lack of the fear of God. When our view of ourselves becomes so lofty that we feel we no longer need God’s hand to bring about our destinies, we have lost the fear of God. When we think God does not care about our sins because we are successful and have influence, we have lost the fear of God. When working for God becomes more important than our relationship with God, we have lost the fear of God.
Everything comes back to pride – C.S. Lewis explains.
Pride is usually the true explanation why we get our feelings hurt, why we hate being passed over for the wonderful invitation, why we feel rejection, why we get into trouble, why we won’t admit to a mistake, why we want to be seen with certain people, why we are afraid we won’t get credit for what we did, why we stay angry, and, yes, why we are jealous. Pride is at the bottom of envy and jealousy. Pride and jealousy are first cousins within this dysfunctional family called the human race.
The truth is, we are all proud men and women. We may pretend to be rid of it, but if we push it down into the cellar, it comes out in the attic.
Helpful to acknowledge it – C.S. Lewis again – Christians only people who do. Others hate it in others, but blind to it in themselves. We need to see it in ourselves and do battle with it daily.
2. How does pride show itself?
Pride essentially as taking oneself too seriously. Taking oneself too seriously is the common denominator in all proud people. It describes those who resent criticism, who are insecure, who cannot laugh at themselves, whose need of praise is constant, who see themselves as overly important, who fancy themselves as being very special to God (and think God bends the rules for them), who tend to blame others for their problems, who hate taking the blame, who cannot bear not getting the credit for the good they did, and who have an insatiable need to prove themselves. Remedy – self-forgetfulness!
The need to call attention to what we have done for the Lord originates in our pride—whether we do this to impress God or those around us. Pride is the root of the need to prove ourselves.
Self-righteousness is a particular symptom of pride found amongst religious people.
Pharisees were self-righteous, felt themselves better than others (a major problem within churches!)
Pride is the essential ingredient in self-righteousness. This is the thing about self-righteousness: it is easy to see in others but not in ourselves.
Being judgmental is a prime example of being self-righteous. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1–2).
Another example of self-righteousness is defensiveness. The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.
Self-righteousness often leads us to being argumentative.
Smugness is a feeling of self-righteousness whereby one does not merely think but knows he or she has got it right and is a cut above others.
Another symptom of pride is self-pity.
Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself. It is a feeling of sorrow (often self-indulgent) over your own sufferings.
Self-pity is a choice. We may have not chosen the circumstances that brought us to feel sorry for ourselves, and yet it is a choice we make when we engage in self-pity.
Self-pity is at bottom often anger directed toward God. We feel sorry for ourselves because God allowed a situation to happen that makes no sense. (To us)
When we prefer to wallow in melancholy rather than accept a way out, it shows we have chosen self-pity as the way forward.
Self-pity is more interested in defending itself than looking for a solution. We don’t want our problems solved; we want them understood.
3. Impact of pride.
Divisions in churches and anywhere.
Pride also undermines unity and can ultimately divide a church. Show me a church where there’s division, where there’s quarrelling, and I’ll show you a church where there’s pride.
because those who are proud are too preoccupied with themselves and think too highly of themselves to care about building others up or to be sensitive to their true needs.
Not just divisions within churches but divisions between churches, divisions within families, friendships. Everywhere we see the corrosive impact of pride.
The cost of pride is evident so often in time lost, energy wasted, money misused, losing friends, forfeiting wisdom, opportunities blown away, embarrassment, how one deals with their enemy, wanting to upstage a rival, overestimating one’s own gift, not living within the limits of one’s particular calling or anointing, not listening to advice or seeking a second opinion, not listening to God, not confessing sin, and refusing to admit to mistakes.
Let us then do everything in our power to destroy pride, as a church and as individuals and cultivate humility. More on cultivating humility next week.
Written by Tony Thompson