Pride is a tough topic. It’s seems so easy to see in others but difficult to identify in yourself. Certainly, projecting and magnifying pride is easy to do. After all, if pride seems bigger in others, maybe it won’t be so noticeable in me.
My personal struggle with pride currently lies mostly with my reputation. What others think of me as a writer, mother, wife & teacher matters a lot to me. Too much. With that lens only do I look at pride today, a mirror not a magnifying glass.
Many stories in the Bible illustrate the truth that “pride comes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). The story of the Edomites is one such example, giving a full picture of pride’s destruction. (See the full story in the book of Obadiah.) The Edomites’ security, prosperity, popularity, education, arrogance and sense of entitlement led to pride that eventually became their downfall. This story fully illustrates that pride eventually results in consequences that grow ever more severe as pride grows.
As I seek to focus on pleasing God rather than pleasing man in my efforts to address pride in my own life, I first look at why eliminating pride from this and every area of my life is so important.
- Pride leads to shame. (Proverbs 11:2)
- Pride leads to arguments. (Proverbs 13:10)
- Pride cuts us off from God and others. (Luke 18:9-14)
- God does not reveal Himself to the proud. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
- Pride is incompatible with the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-26)
When I consider my current struggle with pride, specific examples of these points proving true readily come to mind. Shame. Disunity. Disconnection. Separation. Lack of direction. Not only do I hate feeling these things, I am even more aware of how my pride has displeased God. It occurs to me that the only way to eliminate and even prevent pride in my life exists through developing my character into one that pleases Christ.
For this reason, focusing on character over reputation must be a priority. Yes, reputation is important, and we should seek to have a good one (Colossians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 8:18-24). But character provides the foundation on which a solid reputation is built. Focusing only on reputation takes my eyes off Christ.
How can I develop my character in a way that eliminates & prevents pride?
- Learn endurance. Endurance strengthens character, which increases confidence in Christ. (Romans 5:3-4)
- Grow in the knowledge of God. As I know Jesus more, I receive His glory and goodness. This allows me “everything [I] need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3-11)
- Fix my thoughts. Routinely consider the role of my thought life and the necessity of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. (Philippians 4:8)
- Guard my heart. Several places in scripture, including A Father’s Wise Advice in Proverbs 4, instruct me to guard my heart above all else.
- Choose my company wisely. Avoid letting my relationships lead me away from Christ or corrupt my character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
As my character develops through the process of sanctification, areas of pride continually come to light. My goal lies with addressing pride in its infancy, which means my confidence must not lie with myself but with God who is the source of all that I am and have. I must continually see pride as the poison that it is, and I must realize my responsibility for caring about others. Following Christ’s example to “love one another” as He loved me (John 15:12-14) provides the only real hope for keeping pride at bay.
DISCUSSION: Talking about one’s pride can be very difficult. Please share any reflections, lessons or additional thoughts you may have on this topic.