Pride is that elusive bit of human nature that is easily recognized, yet so hard to control. The battle against pride is lost the very moment victory is claimed. If I say I am humble, I am boasting and humility has flown. With boasting comes pride, and pride delights in itself and brings about arrogance. Pride, unlike humility, is not an elusive thing.
No one can claim to be humble, for when one thinks himself humble, he becomes a braggart. The opposite is true for pride. As it is written in Proverbs, humility comes when pride goes.
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. (NASB)
It is much easier to remain humble if you do not think yourself to be humble. It is much easier to battle pride when we remember we are saved by grace, not of ourselves..
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (NASB)
Sacrificing everything to follow Christ rarely brings humility. The one making the sacrifice often boasts loudly about the sacrifice. On the other hand, a minister who has been blessed with success and good finances often boasts about what he has accomplished. Webster defines pride as “having or displaying excessive self-esteem.” Webster also defines humility as “not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive.”
What then are we to do with pride? We cannot allow pride to have precedence in our lives. We cannot defeat pride until except by the grace of God. We do nothing without boasting and when we place the problem in God’s hands, we boast of how we gave it all to Him. Let us look at a few passages that offer help as we deal with this thing called pride.
The wealth and lures of this world often blind us to our true condition.
Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. NASB
Thinking ourselves to be wise, we display ourselves as fools as we trade our relationship with God for a lie, as Romans 1:21-22 tells us. These people exchanged the immortal God for idols and images of gold and silver; we trade the immortal God for a moment of fame or monetary success. Whatever we bow down to – be it a graven image, a car, real estate or our public image or cell phones, or computers – that becomes our God. Pride has a way of becoming a false god even as we preach for we love the praise of a “job well done”. It is not enough to merely preach the Word; we must also believe the Word.
The Bible speaks of this very thing and gives a sound warning.
For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (NASB)
This battle with pride must be fought every day. Paul wrote of this problem many times. I would like to call attention to one such passage.
2 Corinthians 10:12-13
12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you (NASB).
Paul boasted only within the sphere that God had given him. Once we step beyond the limits God has set all boasting becomes self-serving and is no longer of God. Most people who are truly walking with the Lord rarely boast other than to boast about what God has done.
Perhaps we should take a lesson from the donkey or the mule. These animals will labor all day and allow man to boast of the work accomplished. If Christians were to do their jobs and become as donkeys, allowing others to claim the credit, would not the world take notice? Now that is a humbling thought.
Pride is one of the most important battles we face; however, if we follow Jesus’ teaching this elusive battle with pride and humility will cease. Daily struggles will become easier and the things of this earth will grow distant and dim. One simple sentence, yet so many of us find it difficult, if not impossible, to follow. Look at what Jesus said.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (NASB)
Pride abides in self thus preventing self-denial and making this perhaps our greatest struggle. Self will not allow us to take up our cross for our pride stands in the way, therefore, we must choose to abandon either our pride or our cross. The cross of Jesus defeated death, and our cross will defeat pride. When there is no “self”, there can be no pride for there is no ego to feed and no self-esteem to interfere.
Denying self is our greatest battle, for once we achieve self-denial and take up our cross our sense of pride awakens and the battle rages once more.