Humility and Pride

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crown of thorns“God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Pride is a disease of the heart that leads us to think more of ourselves and less of God. Pride shows itself by thinking too highly of ourselves and forgetting that anything we have is given to us from God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Pride can also flourish when we think too lowly of ourselves and doubt that God could ever use us (1 Corinthians 12:15-18). Either way pride is thriving because our focus is on self rather than Christ.

Our text tells us there is much at stake when it comes to pride. It must be opposed, otherwise God will oppose us. Few things could be more terrifying than for the omnipotent God of the universe to set Himself against us.

Yet, in the same breath of this dreadful warning, we also find a wonderful promise. God will give grace to the humble. God will pour out His undeserved, unearned favor of support and care on those who think rightly of themselves, and rightly of God. For the humble, there is grace.

A person of humility will hear this verse and will say something like, “Lord, make me humble, whatever it costs.” The humble see pride for the poison it truly is. Pride is not our friend because it leads us away from fearing and trusting in God as our all in all.

To help us evaluate our hearts, here are a few statements and questions that might do us good to pray through and consider with a close friend.

 

Do you wear a mask to impress people or are you transparent before those around you?

Pride poses as humble. (Isaiah 29:13)

Humility doesn’t pretend. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

Do you resist confessing certain sins so that you will look better to others?

Pride resists honesty because it prefers a positive impression. (Acts 5:1-11)

Humility pursues honesty because God’s honor is more important than its own. (Joshua 7:19)

 

Do you study the Scriptures to grow in love for Christ or to look and sound spiritual?

Humility prefers to sit at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42)

Pride prefers the stage. (Matthew 23:5-7)

 

What happens in your heart when God’s will for your life calls you to give up on your goals and dreams?

Pride says “my will be done.” (Exodus 5:2)

Humility says “Thy will be done.” (Luke 22:42; 1 Peter 5:6)

 

Do you listen to others with a loving ear or do you interrupt them so you can be heard?

Pride is happy to talk much and listen little. (Proverbs 10:19)

Humility prefers to talk little and listen much. (Proverbs 12:15)

 

Why do you say what you say? Are you trying to lift up those around or are you trying to exalt yourself?

Pride speaks to be thought of highly.

Humility speaks to give help. (Ephesians 4:29)

 

Do you expect that you can learn from what others have to say? Do you search for the truth, even in what might be a misguided accusation or attack? Do you assume you can benefit from correction or assume you have it figured out?

Humility has open ears. (Proverbs 12:15)

Pride has no need to listen. (Proverbs 5:12-13)

 

Do you hold up your rights or lay them down for the benefit of others? Do you serve people only if they can do something for you or if they have treated you with a measure of respect?

Humility comes to serve. (Mark 10:45)

Pride comes to be served.

 

Do you hate sin because it breaks the heart of God or do you hate the consequences that wreck your life?

Pride hates the inconvenience of sin’s effects. (2 Cor. 7:10)

Humility hates sin because it is the traitor who killed its Best Friend. (Spurgeon)

 

Do you invite correction and rebuke? Do you make excuses and qualifications for your sins and mistakes?

Pride hates to be called pride.

Humility doesn’t care what you call it.

 

Do you think you haven’t strayed into certain sins because you are above them or because God has been merciful to hold you back from them?

Pride thinks, “I could never sin like that.” (Luke 18:11)

Humility knows that apart from grace, you are capable of anything. (Genesis 20:6)

 

How do you view difficult people?

Pride views difficult people as a nuisance.

Humility sees them as God’s instrument to change us.

 

Do you compare yourself with others? Do you worry why God is using them in a way you want to be used?

Pride finds itself comparing, criticizing, and envying others whom God chooses to bless. (John 21:21-22)

Humility is just thankful to be used at all. (1 Corinthians 15:9)

 

How is your prayer life? Do you have regular, uninterrupted times where you step away from everything (phone, email, people, social media) and pray to God?

Humility prays. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Pride speaks about prayer, teaches about prayer, but rarely prays.

 

Are you content if no one notices you or are you always fishing for compliments and attention?

Humility is at rest when no one praises it. (Galatians 1:10)

Pride is never at rest unless someone is praising it. (Matthew 6:1, 5, 16)

 

Do you speak of Jesus openly with friends, neighbors, family members, and those who hate Jesus?

Humility speaks of Jesus because He is its greatest treasure. (Acts 5:41)

Pride hides devotion to Jesus because it wants to be thought well of by a perishing world. (John 12:42-43)

 

We are all naturally given to rely on our self and exalt our self. But grace is given to the humble, to those who see their sin and cry out for help. Praise God for Jesus Christ who came as the humble One of heaven and laid down His life on the cross for proud rebels like us. Let us look to Christ; He is pride’s ultimate antidote. Grace comes with a humble glance toward Calvary. Spurgeon rightly said, “pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.”

Amen.

Lord, we humbly ask for grace.

 

*If you have better suggestions for verses next to some of these principles, please add them in the comments. Also feel free to include additional principles about pride and humility.

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