Pride is tough to give up. It’s easy enough to talk about prideful people in the Bible – the people who built the tower of Babel, King Nebuchadnezzar and his 90 foot tall golden statute, King David counting how many fighting men he had – over 1.1 million and taking pride in HIS mighty army, offending God. There’s Peter and his pride – “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” and that very night he denied Jesus three times.
It is really hard to talk about our own pride. It reminds us of our connection to the Fall into sin, the pride in place there – “You can be like God. You can be your own God. You can be in control.” Pride is all about you. It’s all about me. It’s about what I want. It’s about what I need. It’s about what I think. It’s about what I feel. It’s about what I declare. It’s about what I deserve. It’s about my glory. Again, P.R.I.D.E stands for “People Realize I Do Everything.”
What does the Bible say about pride? A sampling from Proverbs: “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech” (8:13b). “Pride only breeds quarrels” (13:10a). It starts young: children between the ages of 2 and 4 average 6.2 fights per hour. That’s about 90 fights per day, 3000 fights per year. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).
And then there’s this: “Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) Echoes of the fall – lust/craving, pride/worldliness. There’s more than pride at work in these verses, but pride is at the heart of it.
How serious is this pride thing? C.S. Lewis wrote: "As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."
Pride has got to go. Along with every other sin, pride must be repented of and given up to Christ Jesus, the antithesis who despite being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, something to boast about. Instead, in complete humility and selflessness, he paid the price for our sins of pride – and all of our sins – on Calvary’s cross.
Martin Luther said, "How can God put anything into a full vessel?" In other words, if a glass is full of water, nothing more can be added. If a heart is full of pride, there's no room for Christ's life-giving Word. We need to daily empty ourselves of sin and pride in humble repentance and faith. And we will grow in Christian humility. By God's grace and power, we will flourish.
Proverbs also contains passages like these: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (11:2a). “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor” (29:23). James 4:6 offers a great summary of Bible teaching: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
God help us in the daily fight to give up pride and instead, to reflect the selfless humility of Jesus.
Grateful with you for grace,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand