Confronting and Conquering PrideJuly 26, 2016
Pride is an ironic altar where those who are consumed with glory bow down to themselves. It is there the parishioner trades his sacrifice, his humility, his service for a pompous seat upon a throne –one engraved with the intricacies of arrogance and conceit.
Ironic indeed. For at this shrine, the god and the worshiper are one and the same. Pride is idolatry in its purest form. Pride is the love of self, the embrace of “all things you.” Benjamin Franklin said, “There is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
How Pride Originated
It is human nature to be “proud of our own humility.” As the sons of Adam, we feel entitled to our inheritance. We find, however, that the birthright to the cursed estate is a fallen world where fallen people live out fallen desires in a fallen way. When Satan tempted the first couple, he played on their “god” gene. The Lord created man with a free will, and within that God-given liberty, the slithery snake exploited their autonomy. God gave independence to man, but such freedom was reliant upon obedience to the commands of God.
When man usurped the law of God, he, in essence said that he could govern himself. He did not need a God to dictate his whereabouts or going forths. In that willful act of disobedience, Adam manifested the reality of his prideful heart and forfeited his righteous standing before God. Those of Adam’s seed bear that same heart and deal with that same pride.
How Pride is Manifested
Pride is manifested primarily through comparison and competition. Man, even alone, likes to make his boast before God. But when you put that same fallen man in the midst of other fallen men, the great race to glory is set underway. C.S. Lewis made this assessment years ago, “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. Nearly all those evils which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of pride.” Pride begins with the act of making oneself a god; but never satisfied, it needs followers, worshipers. Therefore, we outdo one another so that we can have a greater audience of praise.
Consider the fall of Satan; he was not cast out of heaven alone. He amassed a following, a pledged-allegiance of wicked angels who were compelled by his pervasive, wicked, prideful heart. He was not content to sit upon the throne of God, he longed for adoration and admiration while doing so.
At the core of every prideful act is the need to be praised. Therefore, we place ourselves in competitive scenarios so that when we win, we win with the hopes of receiving glory. Pride is not content with having something; its contentment is based upon having more than the next fellow down the road, the lady across the pew, or the ministry across town. Tom Marshall writes, “The giveaway of pride is the effect it has on our view of other people and on our attitudes toward them. The attitude of pride is that if I am to be better, then the others have to be worse; if I am to be valuable, then the others have to be worthless; if I am to be superior, then the others have to be inferior.” Marshall’s words cut like a knife against the cancerous growth of pride.
How Pride is Defeated
The only victory, the only triumph against this insidious force is the cross of Jesus Christ. The antithesis of pride is not necessarily humility, but rather sacrifice…death even. Christ made himself of “no reputation” and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Being found in fashion as a man He humbled himself and become obedient unto death – even the death of the cross.
Yes, He who was rich became poor so that you and I who were poor might become rich. Instead of turning stones into bread and demanding an established throne in Jerusalem, Christ embraced a cross. Instead of flying banners of glory and honor around Bethlehem’s manger, Christ accepted swaddling clothes. He gladly girded Himself with a towel in the Upper Room. And in a moment when every disciple should have bowed their sinful, prideful, glory-seeking knees before the Messiah, they found that the Messiah had already stooped to wash their feet.
Therefore, the sons of Adam will only find victory from pride in the Son of God, the second Adam. If we could humble ourselves enough, we would only be proud of it. Therefore, our victory from pride only comes through our righteous standing before God in Christ Jesus. It is His death that drives away the life force of pride. I have found it difficult in my own life to applaud myself while holding the rugged timbers of the cross. Therein is my true victory from pride, death to myself.