Defeating Our Worst Enemy: Pride
- Felicia Alvarez Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 12 Mar
I sat there staring at my phone, secretly wishing I could call my friend. We hadn’t spoken to each other for a week, but it honestly felt more like a year. As much as I wanted to bridge the angry silence between us, something inside of me kept me from dialing her number.
A mini war raged in my heart. Part of me wanted to restore our friendship; the other part just wanted to be right. I wanted her to realize how wrong she was and come crawling back, asking for forgiveness.
My fingers fiddled with my cell phone keys, scrolling up and down past her name.
“No. Don’t do it!” one side of my heart cried. “You’ve already stood your ground for seven days. You can’t show weakness now by backing down! You have to stand firm. When she’s ready to admit her faults, she’ll have to be the one to pick up the phone and call.”
I tried to recall the argument. It was fuzzy in my mind. How did we get into this mess anyway? What was keeping us from making amends?
Pride, I realized suddenly. Yep, the whole situation reeked with pride. Pride kept me from reaching out. Pride made me value being right more than having a Christ-like attitude. I was caught in pride’s ugly trap.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty sprit before a fall.” And we certainly had fallen. Our friendship had fallen. But, come to think of it, we’re not the only ones ensnared by pride. Almost every human relationship has suffered because of this sin.
Could pride actually be the primary source of human relationship problems? I think so.
Here’s how Charles Spurgeon describes pride:
“I might paint it as being the worst malformation of all the monstrous things in creation; it hath nothing lovely in it, nothing in proportion, but everything in disorder. It is altogether the very reverse of the creatures which God hath made, which are pure and holy. Pride, the first-born son of hell, is indeed like its parent, all unclean and vile, and in it there is neither form, fashion, nor comeliness.”
Yikes! Pride’s a pretty nasty thing. And it’s sure to wreak havoc in both your life and your relationship.
Consequences of Pride
Strangles Communication – When we are prideful about a situation, tension builds, and it’s difficult to communicate. We are so set on being “right” that we are willing to sacrifice fellowship with the people we care about.
Keeps us from Restoration – Pride creates a barrier to both forgiveness and apology. But God calls us to “clothe ourselves in humility” and to “make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
Creates Defensiveness – A.W. Tozer says this about pride: “As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol.” We are so easily offended and so easily become defensive because we’ve secretly made an idol of ourselves. We’re willing to fight at all costs to have the last word.
Restrains us from Offering Grace – When we are caught up in our own self-righteousness, it’s hard to be gracious to others. Yet God calls us to live full of grace: “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33) “Show mercy and kindness to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).
Keeps us from Greatness – “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42). Biblical greatness is the complete opposite of what our culture promotes. Jesus, who humbled himself enough to become a man, was the greatest man on earth. When we are prideful, we deny ourselves greatness because we are refusing to follow in Christ’s footsteps.
Keeps us from Taking Advice – When we’re prideful we don’t accept advice from others, even if they’re pastors or godly friends. We refuse to listen because we think we are above counsel. We forget the verse that says there is wisdom in seeking and heeding counsel (Proverbs 15:22).
How to Keep Pride from Winning
Pride never goes on vacation, so we have to wake up each day determined to beat it! The steps to winning the battle with pride are simple, but in order for them to work, you have to apply them daily.
1. Choose to Remember Who You Are. “What a wretched man I am. Who will save me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). When we have a correct opinion of ourselves, it is difficult for pride to sneak in.
2. Realize What Christ Did for You. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9).
When we view things in light of the cross, our perspective changes immediately. C.J. Mahaney shares this in his book, Humility: “Consider your own life…where would you be today if He hadn’t ransomed you, if He hadn’t liberated you? I’ll tell you where. You would be self-sufficient, seeking to cultivate self-confidence for the purpose of self-glorification.”
3. Choose to Thank God for What He Did. It is difficult for pride to grow in a thankful heart. So offer up prayers of thanksgiving to God for all He has done for you. “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7, ESV).
4. Choose to Hide His Word in Your Heart. John Owen said, “Fill your affections with the cross of Christ that there may be no room for sin.” Dwell on who Christ is by memorizing passages of Scripture. Meditate on these verses when you feel pride creeping in, and allow God’s truth to work in your heart.
A Final Thought
Remember, the meek—the humble—will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). And I believe they will also inherit blessed relationships—relationships with less strife, stress, and arguing and a lot more mercy, kindness, and joy. So let’s surrender our lives to Christ daily and choose to be victorious over pride through Him who strengthens us!
“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my words” (Isaiah 66:2).
Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.
Publication date: March 12, 2013