Argh! Pride, the constant stumbling block on my road to heaven. I catch myself being proud of something I have done, so try to be humble instead and then immediately am proud of my humbleness.
Pride has always come between man and God. The Old Testament is full of examples. Jesus tells of the Pharisee who stood before God praising himself in comparison to the publican, “I’m better than that guy.” I know I do the same. “Well, at least I’m not as bad as…,” I say to myself or others as I look for praise in all the wrong places. The only standard for behaviour I should be using is Jesus Christ, measure of all I should be.
All of creation carries the image of God, but sin tarnished that image. Jesus cleansed creation and restored the image for all who want it. Even though I want it, as long as I am alive on this Earth, I will always be a sinner whether I like it or not.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 )
I have my lifetime to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) It’s not enough to simply say, “I believe,” and ta da! I’m saved. I have to act on that salvation. That’s where the pride comes in. Every time I take a step closer to becoming more Christ-like, I pat myself on the back: “Look at that. This time last year I would’ve been so upset at what happened, but now I can take it with patience and peace of mind.” Yeah, it’s good that I have more patience and that things don’t ruffle my feathers the way they once did, but being proud of it is like one step forward and two steps backward down the path towards the Pharisee. And just the fact that I can see that, and acknowledge it publicly, can lead me down the spiral staircase of pride to failure. Pride can be really sneaky. And now I’m proud that I can recognize that…
According to the world, I’m supposed to take pride in what I do, especially if I’m doing it for the Lord. Even the most atheistic of people have a grudging respect for someone like Mother Theresa.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
I personally think these people started out by doing many miraculous things in the name of Jesus, but then, unfortunately, pride got in the way. Initially, they may have served God out of love but gradually they learned to love the praise of men more.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Pride and love can’t exist together. Pride can result in anger, legalism and even murder for the sake of honour. Love means mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. When I love others, I love God and if I love God then I will love others.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
If I can focus on God and His creation, if I can do for him without worrying what others think, if I can retreat from pride instead of embracing it, then humility and meekness are within reach. But resisting pride is an ongoing battle, a constant biting of the tongue, vigilance in all things and keeping my eyes only on Christ, the standard for life.