“The pride of life … is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16 NIV).
It has been said that temper gets us into trouble … pride keeps us there.
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Pride is different from the other emotions (with the possible exception of anger) because we do not feel that anything is wrong with self. When overwhelmed with other emotions, we know for sure that something is wrong and we need to change. When overwhelmed with pride, we usually think that we are just fine, but it is just that everyone else has to change.
What is pride? An individual was once told, “I don’t see how you can keep from being proud because you read so much.” But it was not the amount of reading or retention that mattered; it was the attitude of the heart toward the acquisition of knowledge. Therefore, Pride is both a disposition or attitude and a type of conduct
What Constitutes a Proud Person? The following is a self-evaluation quiz which may help each of us to determine whether we have a tendency toward pride.
● Self-righteous: “I don’t need the grace of God.” Do you spend more time thinking about yourself than about God or about other people?
● Ego and confidence: Why do I have to always voice my opinions to others? Do I speak constantly without listening?
● Trial of comparison: Do I compare myself with others often, judging myself favorably?
● Do I take pleasure in something by which I measure my own self-worth along the lines of looks, intelligence, or ability?
● Wealth or high status: Do I try to make sure that others are aware of my personal gifts or possessions?
● Contentment: Do I think I deserve more of this world’s good things than other people do?
● Will I get what I want: Am I willing to pursue my selfish goals even if it means others are hurt in the process?
● Holier than thou: Do I think God must be pleased with me because of how ethical or religious I am?
● Self sufficient: Do I ever think I do not really need God or other people?
What are the Root Causes?
How do we know if we have a problem with pride? Here are some points to evaluate by. Do we have a distorted self perception — is it all about me? Are we too blind to see where we are going? It is easier to see pride in others than to recognize it in ourselves. Pride makes it impossible to be clothed with humility, so it will manifest itself by a lack of humility. Do I consider myself better, and others inferior? Until we admit to ourselves that we have a problem, we will make no progress in overcoming pride.
Practical Steps to Overcome Pride
Step 1: Obtain a correct view of God, our potter. Here are some truths about God that will help us with our pride problem.
● God is infinitely superior to us. He is absolutely perfect and we are not. “How can a mortal be innocent before God? Can anyone born of a woman be pure? God is more glorious than the moon; He shines brighter than the stars. In comparison, people are maggots; we mortals are mere worms” (Job 25:4-6 NIV).
● God has supreme authority over us. He determines our eternal future. “How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and He is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, ‘He didn’t make me?’ Does a jar ever say, ‘The potter who made me is stupid?’ (Isaiah 29:16 NLT).
If you tend to think too highly of yourself, focus more on the greatness of God. Undertake a Bible study on the nature of God, especially His majesty and power. Ask God to reveal Himself more clearly to you. When we have a distorted view of who God is, we will not give Him the reverence and respect that is due to Him. As a result, our arrogance will be free to develop until we suffer the consequences of our pride.
Step 2: Revise your delusional beliefs. Reflect on your attitudes with the help of the following.
● Do you think you are better than others? “What gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God has not given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).
● Do you think that you are indispensable? “By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3 NIV).
● Do you think that your accomplishments and position entitle you to special favor? “It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself” (Proverbs 25:27 NLT).
Such beliefs are all self-centered, self-appreciating, and degrading to others. Yet your identity in Christ is not to be one of selfish ambition and pride but rather one of self-denial and grace-filled humility. Allow Scripture to inform your views of yourself, other people, and life in general, so that you will not be proud in a sinful way.
God wants His people to be living examples of His love to others. Yet pride is the single greatest obstacle to loving people.
Step 3: Do not testify by saying, “If” I offended or did something wrong I am sorry. The hardest thing for a proud person to do is to admit that he or she is wrong. Are you prepared to do that?
If so, give your type of pride a specific name (conceit, vanity, or self-opinionated). If you have harmed others with your sin, apologize to them. Seek reconciliation and offer restitution where appropriate. Then pray the following prayer (or a similar one of your own making), in faith that God will forgive your sin and empower your obedience. Insert the name of your particular type of pride in the blanks.
God, I know I have sinned by __________. I am sorry for the pain I have given to you and to the people around me. Please forgive me for my sin. Wash away all of the __________ from me. And by Your Spirit, give me the strength to sin no more in this area but instead to live in humility. In our redeemer’s name, amen. “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV).
Step 4: Be humble about being humble. You can even become proud of your humility! Pride is easy to slip back into after you have repented. Be certain that the world, the flesh, and the Devil will do all they can to pull you back into your sin of pride.
● The values of the world system are topsy turvy, including promoting pride as a positive thing. The world system gives us messages like, “You should think highly of yourself,” and “Try to keep yourself in the spotlight.” Overcome the world by inviting God to transform your thinking, so that you come to agree with Him about the importance He places on humility. James 4:6, 10 (NKJV), “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
● Your flesh (sinful nature) craves the good feeling it gets when you inflate your ego and selfishly seek attention from others. So remind yourself that your sinful nature is actually already dead Ephesians 2:5, “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ.”
● Satan will lay opportunities in your path that will make it easy for you to exercise your pride. Resist his schemes by putting on the whole armor of God. Use the “belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14 NIV), reminding yourself that God is the one who deserves honor, not you.
Spiritual attacks will never cease. So remain alert. The power of God is more than enough to defend you against spiritual attacks, so that you may continue to live in a way that is consistent with your repentance. Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Step 5: Flee Temptation. We will never fully escape temptations to be proud. But we can significantly reduce these temptations and thus improve our chance to remain free of pride — if we take specific steps to avoid temptation.
Make changes in your lifestyle that will reduce your temptation to be prideful. Be bold here! Be creative!
● If you tend to look down on people of a lower social class than your own, volunteer to serve some of society’s down-and-outers.
● If you are proud of your looks, get rid of the clothes or makeup that you think flatter your looks the most.
● If you like to show off by driving up in a flashy car, trade it in for a vehicle that is more modest and practical.
● Ask a trusted mentor to hold you accountable in your commitment to not be prideful.
Do not focus on your failures of the past but rather on God’s ability to give you lasting victory over pride. Believe that He will implant a more humble attitude in your heart — for good. And give Him the praise in advance!
● Focus on your relationship with God. Strengthen your devotional life. In particular, focus on giving God glory and humbling yourself before Him
● Latch on to God’s promises. Search the Scriptures for truths about pride and humility, then memorize the verses that you think can best help you to resist pride. Recall these verses whenever temptation arises. The following are a couple of verses you might want to memorize.
“Anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:4 NLT).
“Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6 NLT).
Throughout Scriptures we are told the consequences of pride. Proverbs 16:18-19 NIV says “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Satan was cast out of heaven because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-15). He had the selfish audacity to attempt to replace God as the ruler of the universe. But Satan will be cast down to hell (death) in the final judgment. Those who rise up in defiance against God, will come to disaster (Isaiah 14:22).
Why is pride so sinful? Pride is giving ourselves the credit for something that God has accomplished. Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). That is why we give God the glory — He alone deserves it.