Dwight Fletcher | Tempted by Pride
This week, is the penultimate in this Tempted series. Over the last few weeks, we have looked at the ways in which we are can be seduced to step outside of God's will and go off course in our lives. We looked at addictions, greed, anger and sex, and this week, we want to look at one of our greatest temptations - pride.
Now there is nothing wrong with having a sense of pride in doing things well. God gives us talents and abilities to use for His glory, and He wants us to do our best. In Galatians 6:4 NIV, the Apostle Paul wrote, "... they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else ...". Pride, within boundaries then, can be good. But Scripture also warns about the awful consequences of sinful pride.
The kind of pride that the Bible cautions us to be wary of occurs when people fail to honour the Lord with their attitudes. They believe that they can accomplish whatever they want apart from God. In this context, pride means to act arrogantly; esteeming one's self above other people or; self-conceit.
We can all point a finger at someone with this type of pride. However, many people who have sinful pride have no idea that they are prideful. As a matter of fact, the proud person is often very proud of his humility.
God has some very explicit things to say about pride to which we need to pay close attention. Proverbs 6:16 (GNT) says, "There are seven things that the Lord hates and cannot tolerate: A proud look ...". So, the writer of Proverbs puts pride on God's top 10 list of things that he hates.
DIFFICULT TO DETECT
Sometimes it is difficult to detect pride in our own lives, as it presents itself in different ways. Some ways include:
a. Vanity: Placing an unhealthy or excessive focus on our appearance.
b. Controlling pride: Demanding control and insisting on having things our way, lack of submission.
c. Stubborn pride: Refusing to back down on a position even though we know we are wrong. The scripture calls this a 'stiff-necked' person.
d. Charity pride: Being too proud to accept help even when we are having tough times.
e. Perfectionist pride: Perfectly good things get thrown out because they don't meet our high standards of what's best.
f. Indignant pride: A victim mentality if everything doesn't go our way. We maintain the belief that nothing bad is ever supposed to happen to us.
g. Intellectual pride: Believing that we are intellectually superior to the rest of humanity and, therefore, don't have to conform to the same moral principles as the rest of the world.
REASONS TO BEWARE OF PRIDE
Most, if not all, of us have encountered or operated in one or more of these areas of pride. But because God loves us, He feels very strongly about ridding us of our pride. Here are some reasons for this:
a. Pride hinders our relationship with God. It promotes self-sufficiency rather than God-sufficiency. Our culture screams at us with motivational quotes about doing things in our own strength and on our own terms. These influence us to be prideful in ways that we don't realise. But "God resists the proud ..." James 4:6 NKJV.
b. Pride disrupts our relationships with other people. If God resists the proud, then the proud man is out of fellowship with God. Anyone who is out of fellowship with God is going to be out of fellowship with other people.
c. Pride hampers our effectiveness as leaders. People cannot trust leaders who are self-focused and blinded by conceit. A prideful person shows favouritism toward people who build their egos, and flatterers will belittle themselves to gain acceptance. "Whoever belittles his neighbour lacks sense ... ." Proverbs 11:12 ESV.
d. Pride hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Once pride enters our lives, our prayers will automatically be hindered. We will be the ones deciding what's best, whenever the Holy Spirit tries to guide us into God's best.
e. Pride compromises our rewards in heaven. In the end, God will judge us by our motives, not just our actions. If pride has motivated our actions, then we will miss our heavenly rewards. God will not bless our arrogance; He will wait until we turn our focus away from ourselves, toward seeking Him.
f. Pride destroys our lives. Pride ultimately destroys all that it controls. It is the road to ruin. The Message translation of Proverbs 16:18 puts it this way: "First pride, then the crashthe bigger the ego, the harder the fall."
Jesus humbled himself and went to the cross because of his love for us. Romans 5:8 NIV, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." So how do we humble ourselves? We will provide some answers to these questions next week as we close out the tempted series. But, today we can start with the simple act by praying. Humbly say to God, "Jesus come into my life. Be my leader. Be my Lord. I want to follow You from this day forward. Today, as I humble myself, please decrease my pride and increase my humility. God I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Amen."