Pride is one of the biggest potential pitfalls for people pursuing God’s purpose. God’s will is about GOD, and even though He calls and includes us in His work, He does not give His glory to anybody else (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). In purpose (and in life), it’s not about us!
Pride, lifting up oneself, has always been a problem (ask Satan – Isa. 14:12-15; 1 Tim. 3:6), but especially in a day of social media omnipresence, obsession with positions, and rampant self-promotion, we HAVE to examine ourselves and fight against pride. Let’s look at the Biblical problems with pride, and how to deal with it, if we find it in our hearts.
The Problem with Pride
The Bible says, “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off” (Psa. 138:6). That word for proud speaks of someone who is elevated, arrogant, high, haughty, or lofty. No matter what people think, God fully recognizes when we are proud, and scripturally there are many negative effects of pride. Proverbs, a book of practical wisdom, lays out a few:
- Prov. 11:2 KJV – “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
- Prov. 13:10 KJV – “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
- Prov. 15:25 KJV – “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.”
- Prov. 16:5 KJV – “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”
- Prov. 16:18 KJV – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
- Prov. 21:4 KJV – “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”
- Prov. 29:23 KJV – “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
No matter who exalts themselves publicly or becomes grand in their own eyes privately, we have to remember what God thinks of pride in our hearts, and His response to it. It is a SIN and, if not repented of and reversed, leads to shame, conflict, destruction, and more. None of that helps us fulfill purpose OR please God. The goal is to lift up, exalt, and magnify GOD, not ourselves.
Solutions for the Proud
If you identify any pride in your heart and find yourself making it more about self and less about God, there are solutions in scripture. James 4:6-7 is a great place to start:
1. Understand God’s Position
That Greek word for resisteth is defined (and translated) as OPPOSE, so when we are proud, we have to understand we are inviting God’s opposition. First, to deal with pride, remind yourself that God will resist you in this state! When we become haughty or appear above others, we are putting ourselves in a position against God. If you want to love God and want to be used by Him, that is major motivation to change your attitude!
2. Humble Yourself
Next the scripture says that while God resists the proud, He giveth grace to the HUMBLE! Those who bring themselves down God gives grace and favor to, and they can be used mightily in His service. Though God can bring you down when you’re proud, the best way to deal with pride is to humble yourself! What does the Bible say?
- Matt. 18:4 KJV – “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matt. 23:12 KJV – “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
- Luke 14:11 KJV – “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
- Luke 18:14 KJV – “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
- James 4:10 KJV – “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Recognizing we are nothing without God and that He deserves all the glory, let’s obey the command of scripture found in 1 Peter 5:5-7:
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
In your heart and actions, bring yourself down and lift up God! John the Baptist did it right, bringing himself down as he prepared the way for Christ, putting the focus exclusively on Jesus (John 1:25-27; 3:27-31). His stated mindset in John 3:30 is one we must adopt: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Want to be used by God and fulfill His purpose? HUMBLE YOURSELF!
3. Submit Yourself to God
If we go back to James 4:6-7 after telling us God’s response to the proud and humble, we find the scripture says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” Therefore is a conjunction, tying this command to what we just learned: since God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, SUBMIT YOURSELF TO GOD!
To submit is to arrange yourself under, to be in subjection to, or to obey. It also is to yield to the will or authority of someone, surrendering. Pride pushes us to take the lead or the glory, but when we submit ourselves to God, we do what He wants with His power and thus give Him all the credit.
Pride can also put such a focus on SELF that we wrongly think we did the work on our own OR pride can cause us to resolve (looking at ourselves) that we cannot do what God said. Rather than doing your own thing or being disobedient out of unbelief in God’s ability to use you, submit yourself to God. Surrender to Him. Don’t let pride cause you to be in a battle with your will against God’s will. Bring yourself down, submit yourself to God, and obey Him!
4. Resist the Devil
When the devil fights in any way, we must resist Him! To resist is to withstand or stand against. If he fights, we fight back! One thing worth pointing out, though, is how pride is a trick he fell into and that he would be happy to see us fall into as well.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 lays out the requirements for those who desire the office of a bishop. In 1 Timothy 3:6 the Bible says one thing he cannot be: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” If he is a young convert, he could fall into the condemnation (Greek – krima or “crime”) of the devil. What did the devil do that was so bad? What crime caused him to be kicked out of heaven and destined for hell? He was lifted up in PRIDE! Isaiah 14:12-15 tells the story:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
If you feel yourself falling after the devil’s prideful pattern, remember God’s position on pride, humble yourself, submit to God, and resist the devil! You don’t have to go out the same way he did. With humility, you can fulfill God’s purpose and finish the work He gave you to do.
Have you dealt with pride? How did you overcome? What helps you remain humble? Share your comments below!