Do you have a problem with pride? If you answered in the negative, I guarantee you do. Actually, we all do. Whether flagrant or subtle, we all battle with pride.
In an action-packed child’s game called “Catch-a-Mole” each player whacks one of several moles popping up from its hole with a hammer. The person who pulls the most moles out of their holes becomes the declared winner. Oh, how this game resembles my battle with pride. No sooner have I successfully whacked pride in one area of my life, when suddenly a new area springs up — or even a multitude of new areas.
Unfortunately, in reality, no one wins when it comes to being proud. God minces no words about His hatred of pride.
“The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”
I’m often shocked at the invasive nature of pride. All too frequently, I have to pick up my spiritual weapons against this deceiving attitude, pulling it from its hiding place. There lay part of the issue! Pride wraps itself deceptively in a multitude of disguises.
I may easily become proud of my looks and my possession, or even my spiritual gifts or prayers. Pride pops into my thoughts, bounces off my words, and hides in the motivations of my heart. Sometimes, I lose hope of succeeding in the battle.
Three truths help me:
- The root of all pride grows in insecurity.
- The only antidote is humility.
- I am free to choose.
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Pride’s vain promises result in humiliation, but God rewards those who choose humility. We will all have ample opportunity to choose either to exalt ourselves or to walk in humility.
We often see the evidence of pride in others long before we recognize it in ourselves. I’ve listed just a few of my pride points below. Do you relate to any of these?
- Self-sufficiency — difficulty asking others for advice or assistance
- Comparing myself to others
- Need to be heard or noticed (especially getting in the last word)
- Not being grateful for the little and big things God and others do for me
- Jealousy or envy
- Slander, gossip, or talking negatively about others
- Feeling irritated, frustrated, or critical of others
- Fault finding and being judgmental
- Feeling inferior to others
- Difficulty saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
- Feeling embarrassed or foolish around others
- Finding it difficult to receive correction — justifying myself
- Believing my way is right
- Self-willed and stubborn
These symptoms of pride are obvious. What about the more subtle ones?
- Often late for meetings or appointments
- Interrupting a conversation or not listening when someone else is speaking
- Being superficial
- Difficulty working with others or as a team
- Preferential treatment toward some, while neglecting others
- Reluctant to share personal needs or struggles
- Neglect of prayer or Bible reading
These lists form only the key points of my struggle. Though I am improving in this area substantially, my problem with pride has negatively affected many people.
Fortunately, God equips us to win! The problem with pride is beatable. We dare not let down our guard, lower our hammer, or turn a blind eye to any “pride mole,” wreaking havoc in our lives. Whether I whack once or fifty times a day, persistence reaps rewards.
Whack #1: If I ask, God stands ready to reveal and expose areas of pride in my life.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Whack #2: View every point seriously! Instead of a general, “I’ve failed . . . sinned . . . been proud,” be specific. By pinpointing the exact areas where the problem with pride arises, we target the “mole,” dragging it into the open. Then confess each area, asking God to reveal the source behind the problem.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
Sometimes, I wrongly expect God’s complete faithfulness, regardless of my half-hearted confessions.
Whack #3: The responsibility for my pride rests on me. God desires that I choose humility, but the decision is mine.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
1 Peter 5:6
For me, the greatest breakthroughs came after even more strategic whacks. Victory came as I honestly repented and confessed my pride to others. I needed to both ask for forgiveness and submit to accountability in this area. Painful, yes! But absolutely profitable.
I know the best path to follow loves what God loves and hates what He hates. Such a transformation of my heart and mind requires process — a Holy Spirit led daily process.
I often become weary in the relentlessness of it all. In many ways, the problem with pride bears no resemblance to a happy children’s game. I expect the battle to continue as long as I wear this garment of weakened flesh.
“For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
This verse encompasses God’s ultimate goal for us — “to revive the spirit of the lowly (or humble) and . . . the heart of the contrite (or repentant).”
Humility literally means “low lying.” Humility consists of that quality where you don’t think you are better than any other person. We identify this freedom from pride and arrogance as true humility.
Humility never refers to belittling oneself or denying God-given gifts or abilities. Rather, it freely acknowledges God’s grace without diminishing others.
As a matter of fact, humility empowers us to encourage, build, and lift other people to their full potential without personally feeling threatened by their success or ours.
Humility opens the door for us to receive fully the knowledge, wise counsel, and even correction from others, without self-defense, criticizing, or becoming resentful.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
May we all overcome the problem with pride, learning to walk in true humility, gentlessness, patience, and love.
Is anyone else ready for a ferocious game of “Catch-a-Mole?” Let’s do it!