Pride. There are lots of different kinds of pride. Pride in your children. Pride in your country or your alma mater. All of these kinds of pride can be healthy...in moderation. But the kind of pride that God speaks against in his word is nothing like those "feel good" types of pride. Pride is one of those sins that we tend to just gloss over and not fret too much about. In our minds, it's not quite the same as murdering someone or committing adultery. But the thing is...it IS in the same group. A "sin is a sin is a sin" in the mind of God. All sins separate us from Christ and require repentance. In the following passage from Mark, Jesus is speaking about what is inside of you...and how it can defile you. He lists all of these horrible sounding sins...and then WHOA! He throws pride in there...along with envy, slander (gossip), and foolishness. I think that we tend to trivialize these other sins...and yet they are so completely destructive if we don't stop them in their tracks.
And then he added,
“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
Right now, I'd like to focus specifically on pride. I was recently given a wonderful resource from Revive our Hearts/Nancy Leigh DeMoss...it's a study on pride vs. brokenness (or humbleness) and it details the many differences between the two. It's been such a life changing study for me and I wanted to pass it on to you.
Here are just a few of the comparisons:
Proud people focus on the failures of others...broken people are overwhelmed with the sense of their OWN spiritual need.
Proud people have to prove that they are right...broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
Proud people claim "rights" and have a demanding spirit...broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.
Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated...broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; thrilled that God would use them at all.
Proud people feel confident in how much they know...broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.
Questions to ask yourself...evidences of pride:
- Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?
- Do you think of yourself as "more spiritual" than your mate or others in your church?
- Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those thoughts to others? Do you have a sharp, critical tongue?
- Are you driven to receive approval, praise, or acceptance from others?
- Are you uncomfortable inviting people into your home because you don't think it's nice enough or you can't afford to do lavish entertaining?
- Do you become defensive when you are criticized or corrected?
I have been so convicted by this study...it completely brings my focus back to Christ. Jesus Christ is the only reason I am not condemned by my failures. He has saved me and I owe everything to Him. With that in mind...how could I ever think that I have any "rights" in my life? How could I ever look down upon someone else...knowing that I am nothing without Christ?
Now...all of this may sound so "defeated" and not "empowered" in the sense of the word that our world uses it. If you watch TV or listen to any sort of media, you will hear that it's ALL about you and that YOU have control over everything in your life. You pretty much ARE GOD. This is the ultimate in pride.
But God desires for you to be confident and beautiful and amazing...but He wants you to be confident in HIM, beautifully made by HIM, and live an amazing life with HIM and for HIM.
In studying "brokenness", I have migrated into studying what the Bible says about love and mercy. When your focus is on loving others and showing mercies to others, it's much harder to be full of pride.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
He has showed you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
And my very favorite...you have to read this 3-4 times to really get it into your heart:
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand it's own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record or when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. ... There are three things that will endure -- faith, hope, and love -- and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13
Wow. To live a life of love...that's what I want! To show mercy and to be broken in Christ. How I long to be those things! It is ONLY by the Holy Spirit's power in my life that I could even dream of grasping at them. I am so thankful that God uses circumstances in my life, the people I am surrounded with, and His word to gently teach me in these areas.
This is my prayer today...
LORD! I desire a broken spirit...a spirit of love. Clean out my critical spirit. I don't want it anymore. Let me look for love and peace in every situation. Make me overwhelmed at every moment with a sense of my own spiritual need...not anyone else's. Let me see all others as better than myself. Help me to deny my selfish desires and be motivated to serve others. I have nothing to offer except a life that flows through Jesus. I have so much to learn. I am not concerned with being "right". Help me to be humble and slow to correct others. Give me a teachable spirit...one that longs for your Word and your truth. I love you Jesus...and it's in your name I pray. Amen.