Trading Pride for Humility
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” – 1 Peter 5:6
What changes can we make so we don’t suffer the sad consequences of pride-filled living?
The sin of pride needs to be handled like any other sin. We recognize it, acknowledge it as sin, then go to God who will forgive, cleanse and provide the power to change. Once confessed, we need to find ways to keep the sin of pride from creeping back into our lives.
One of the first things that will help us is to engage with a community of believers. Life is never just about us. It’s about our families, friends, co-workers, and fellow Christians. When we are thankful to God for his provision and to others for their love and support, we will squelch pride in early stages. Looking out for the well-being of others and acknowledging the unique roles they have played in our development can begin to reverse the effects of pride that has taken hold of our hearts.
As we learn to work humbly with God’s people, we make a point of maximizing others and minimizing ourselves. We do this by garnering the opinions and viewpoints of others and then making and effort to understand why they think that way. What drives them? What encourages them? What can we do to help them achieve their goals? What keeps them awake at night? How can we be of help? Walking away from pride and following the way of humility and wisdom will cause us to care enough to find out!
When we take the spotlight off ourselves, turn it onto others, and do so with sincere gratefulness, the end result is that glory, praise, and honor will go to God, where it belongs, instead of to us! He can handle it. We can’t!
Usually pride grows in our hearts when we compare ourselves to others and see ourselves as somehow superior, smarter, or more talented. But scripture tells us that when we do that, we are looking to the wrong source for our competence. Paul says it this way: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
“The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” (Phillips Brooks). The one we need to stand against as our measuring stick, is Jesus himself. Next to His perfect love, total holiness, and enduring patience, we know we have far to go. Humility is the only possible result of such a comparison!
As I was thinking about this teaching, I thought of our immaturity when we are proud, thinking the world revolves around us. That our needs should come above those of others. That we are worthy of honor and praise. It made me think that we can learn a lot about pride from eavesdropping on a three-year old:
“No!” This is the child’s way of demanding to have his own way. He does not want to be told what to do. A person controlled by pride hasn’t outgrown the child’s “I want my own way” nature.
“Mine!” A childish perspective, and a selfish one that we don’t seem to outgrow, is that accumulation is more important than sharing. Pride always wants more, regardless of the needs of others.
“Look at me!” The message from the child is that he deserves to be the focus of attention, to have every achievement acknowledged. Some of us haven’t yet matured beyond that demand. We still like to have all eyes on us affirming what we do and who we are.
“He did it!” It’s not my fault. Even if it is, I’ll figure out a way to shift the blame to someone else. I will never admit I was wrong. Pride cannot admit failure, imperfection, or fault.
When it comes to pride, maybe God is just telling us to grow up! And He will help us do just that if we go to Him with humble and teachable hearts!