Taking pride in our achievements is a good thing. We should be proud of our success, especially when we have given our best effort. I think it is important for us to take pride in the things that we do.
While there is a proper time and place for pride to exist, the Bible is clear that pride can be deadly. Pride, perhaps more than any other reason, keeps people from God. Pride, which keeps us from humbly surrendering our lives to God, prevents us from developing close relationships with other people, especially with God. The arrogance of pride seeks to elevate us about all others. Consider what John Ortberg wrote in The Life You’ve Always Wanted:
At the deepest level, pride is the choice to exclude both God and other people from their rightful place in our hearts. Jesus said that the essence of spiritual life is to love God and to love people. Pride destroys our capacity to love…Pride moves us to exclude instead of to embrace. Pride moves us to bow down before a mirror rather than before God. Pride moves us to judge rather than to serve. Pride means not only that we want to be smart and wealthy, but also that we will not be satisfied until we are smarter and wealthier than those around us. Pride is essentially comparative in nature. (p. 110)
How do we defeat the arrogant pride our flesh calls us to embrace? Let me offer three ideas.
- Consider Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Following verse 5, Paul describes the attitude of Jesus that we should imitate. If we are following Jesus then we need to do our best to align our lives with His life.
- Serve in small ways. This is the essence of Christianity. In Matthew 25:31-46, the teaching on the final judgment, we notice that those who are praised by God do the small acts of service. They give food to the hungry, give clothes to the naked, and visit the lonely. These acts of service aren’t going to bring accolades and recognition, but they will remind us that great joy is found in the simplest things. Helping those in need is more important that making a name for ourselves.
- Submit to God. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 remind us that God gives grace to the humble and opposes the prideful. Both write basically the same thing: submit to God. This is a choice that we make, it won’t come naturally to us, but is something that we can choose to do in spite of our feelings. Until we submit to God it will be impossible for us to be humble, and arrogance will haunt us every day of our lives.
Pride is deadly to our Christian walk. We have to take the appropriate measures to guard against it. Remember, pride will take from us the relationships that really matter, and pride will prevent us from having the type of influence that makes a real difference in the lives of other people.
I want to encourage you to read Philippians 2:1-11 and ask God to show you how you can imitate the humility of Jesus. Humility, not pride, is essential to living the life God created us to live.