Have you ever really thought about how proud you are?! No doubt you maybe consider yourself to be a humble being, not pretentious or overly bearing, and happy to take a back seat, never blowing your own trumpet i.e. being boastful, and thus you’re sitting thinking “I’m not proud”! Sad to say it’s more likely the opposite.
Have you ever looked at someone else and thought critically about them – how they look, how they dress, what their worldview is? I know I’m utterly guilty of oftentimes thinking I know better than many of my peers, especially with respect to the Gospel and my view of it. Many times I think that because I spend a LOT of time listening to religious podcasts usually of sermons, and/or reading scripture, that I know more than even my minister (pastor) does, and sometimes I’ve even been so bold as to tell him!!! I’ve criticised what neighbours have said or done, and felt utterly justified in doing so, only to be brought up short when in front of the Lord in recognising that all of these errant attitudes stem from the single one of PRIDE!
Pride is a very insidious sin – it creeps in when you least expect it, and hits you in ways you never notice until ultimately it colours your entire life if left unchecked. It’s considered probably the biggest sin because it was the cause of Satan’s own fall from heaven. He prided himself on how beautiful he was – and even though he recognised that beauty was down to God’s creativity, instead of being contented and thankful for that, he allowed pride to settle in his angelic heart so heavily as to cause him to commit the first sin recorded in scripture – that of determining he could be like God and ultimately become God. However, instead, we know that he not only lost his exalted position (which was made even more exalted by his pride), but he was then cast down to earth where he determined to destroy all of God’s creation like a wanton petulant child having had his biggest dream shattered. The rest is history.
When you allow pride to not only enter your heart but take residence there, you’re acting in a similar fashion to Satan – you determine that you are better than others, and thus you deserve more than them, or you should be treated differently because you know more, or do more. We can all certainly take pride in those things that are good in our life and there’s no fault in that – it’s how you manage to give it the right level of status that makes all the difference – whether it is accepted as a short-term emotion of little interest or whether it becomes something overriding and pushing you to achieve more and more in its name, until in essence you almost make pride your god!!!
And the biggest area many of us unknowingly become overly proud in is in our faith – we cease to remember that it is God alone Who provides it to us, and instead we commend ourselves constantly for how much we have, or how we are such great workers for the Lord, or how much others value our witness etc. Those at greatest risk here are Pastors, and leaders of the Church, for they are given such high status in many cases (think of Rick Warren etc), who inevitably focus more on gaining and keeping the attention of those they serve in more and more ridiculous ways in order to maintain that element of pride within them – some sadly get so focused on doing the work well, they cease to remember Who the work is being done for or indeed sometimes why, and instead they become “owners” of a large, wealthy but utterly spiritually dead church. I’ve listened to some (again US based) sermons where the Pastor has spent more than 2/3 of the “sermon” telling people who wonderful they all are, and them all clapping him to promote how wonderful he is too!!! And in the space of 45 minutes – only 1 scripture verse provided and that only because it vaguely spoke about something to do with feeling better about yourself, but as it was taken fully out of context it certainly couldn’t ever teach the people in the pews anything of any scriptural value.
So Satan once again is using a very deadly and utterly powerful method to draw God’s people away from looking at God and instead focussing in on themselves to their equal detriment. It was pride that got Satan thrown out of heaven and if anything or anyone had reason to be so, it was Satan, but rather than just glorying in what God had made him, he decided instead he’d rather just be God than serve God, and that’s where it all ended rather badly for him.
So take heart in what John says:
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1Jn 2:15-17
Take care and focus on God alone – never on your own abilities for He alone has provided them to you.