Pride has lost its place on the shelf of vices and has been invited to the table as a virtue. Carrying with us, pride for who we are, for what we’ve accomplished, has been deemed a crucial component of self-respect. Psychologists and counselors, well-intended though they may be, have encouraged us all in this. In many cases, even pastors have encouraged their congregates to embrace “healthy” pride without weighing this modern phenomenon against Scripture.
But, like everything we come in contact with, we need to take this idea and run it through the filter of Scripture.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2, ESV
Pride is a dangerous slope. And we would be wise to heed Paul’s words and to boast in nothing but Christ’s work, not our own skills. When we find ourselves slipping into prideful thoughts, we need to ask ourselves four questions.
What Am I Above?
What actions or avoidances are causing me to think highly of myself? Am I looking at a sin and saying, “I would never!” instead of, “but for the grace of God go I?”
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV
When I experience pride in my life, it is often because I am making incorrect assumptions about myself and my ability to withstand sin. Instead of assuming that we would never succumb to temptation, we need to stop and consider that maybe I haven’t been in the situation other’s have been in. I assume superiority and mastery over sin instead of compassion on someone who is ensnared. When I remember that pride comes before a fall, I take the threat of sin more serioulsy and guard myself as I should.Am I looking at a sin and saying, “I would never!” instead of, “but for the grace of God go I?” Click To Tweet
Who Am I Better Than?
Pride innately assumes that I am better than someone else. It is taking my good sense, my self-control, my ambition, and comparing myself to another person who presumably lacks these qualities.
“Let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.” -Galatians 6:4
Our work needs to be tested against the only measuring stick we are provided with, the perfect Christ. When we compare ourselves to others, we make our boast about ourselves instead of recognizing our sinfulness and boasting in God’s grace. I might not sin as obviously or extensively as my neighbor, but when we stand before God’s holiness, we both fall so drastically short.
Tish Harrison Warren recently reminded me on Twitter, I am more like the worst ideological enemy than I am like Christ. What a humbling way to remember that I am a sinner. I need a Savior, just as much as my neighbor does.
What Do I Get for It?
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. – 1 Timothy 1:15, ESV
The apostle Paul claimed he was the leader of those needing God’s grace. He didn’t depend on His righteousness, His sacrifice in missions, His ability to perform miracles, or anything else. His boast was solely in Christ. His merit was found in Him alone.When I remember that pride comes before a fall, I take the threat of sin more serioulsy and guard myself as I should. Click To Tweet
When we find ourselves dwelling in pride, we need to ask if there is anything we have to gain? James tells us that the contrary is true: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 2:10, ESV). God is looking for our humility, not for our pride in work. My pride has never done for my what only Christ can do.
What Do I Have to be Proud of?
At the end of the day, we need to examine what we are proud of and if it is worthy of our pride. Are we basing our worth, our boasting, in worldly goals and ambitions or in Biblical truths?
Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14, ESV
When we focus on what Christ has done, we can boast only in His work because we see the insignificance of our efforts. In Jesus, we have a mighty claim. The very Son of God sacrificed Himself on my behalf. I am restored to right relationship with God. My sin has been cleansed because of His work, not my own.
When we think of pride, when we hear the call from the world to take pride in our actions, we need to stop. Instead of boasting in worldly pursuits, instead of comparing ourselves to others, let us realize how wretched we truly are.Realize your wretchedness on your own then boast loudly in the God who did not leave you that way. Click To Tweet
But don’t stop there.
Realize your wretchedness on your own then boast loudly in the God who did not leave you that way but sent His Son to purify you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness that He might present you spotless before the throne of God. May this be the source of all pride that we feel.