Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Dealing With Pride: The Root of Most Problems, Part One


Perhaps the greatest sin issue with which we must deal in our hearts is pride. What a destructive dynamic! Pride causes us to become angry with those whom we love. Haughtiness causes us to look upon others with disdain. Arrogance causes us to trample upon the feelings of fellow believers. Pride causes us to believe that we have a better way than God in so many of life's decisions.


When a husband cannot get his wife to see his point and frustration wells in his voice, pride is the culprit. Secretly, his heart says, "why can't she see it like I do, she is so ignorant (and I'm so intelligent)!" When a wife becomes irritated at picking up clothes, pride is her companion. In the recesses of her heart she is saying, "doesn't my husband know that I have a right to expect my house to be clean? He is so inconsiderate (and I am treated like a nobody)."


Pride affects all of life's relationships. When we become jealous of a co-worker's promotion, pride is the root. When we become embittered toward competitors, pride is lurking underneath. When we put someone down; when we covet our neighbor's yard; when we say, "I can do it better;" when we give someone the silent treatment; when we gossip; when we get our feelings hurt; pride is the reason.


The question is, "can we deal with pride? Can we put down pride in our hearts? Can we do so for our own peace of mind and the glory of God?" Thankfully, the answer is "yes."


In 1 Cor. 4:6-8, Paul admonished the Corinthians that they should not take pride in one man over against another. The specific context related to factions forming around him and other leaders in the church. In dealing with this issue, Paul gives us admonition that we can apply in all of our relationships. We may glean principles from this text that will help us to deal with pride in our hearts. We will deal with the first princile today, and then a few others tomorrow.


First, we can put down pride in our hearts with a commitment to God's word. In v. 6, as noted, Paul is in the broad context of dealing with factions that had developed within the church. Here, he becomes direct: "Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, 'Do not go beyond what is written.' Then you will not take pride in one man over against another." Paul's primary concern is that believers not "take pride in one man over against another." Let us examine Paul's statement one phrase at a time.


Paul refers to the Corinthians as "brothers." Of course, in light of the historical context, the word refers to brothers and sisters. His purpose in using this phrase is three-fold. Firstly, he wants to identify with the believers at Corinth to affirm that they indeed do have a relationship with one another because of their bond in Christ. A recognition of this bond will help us to consider others better than ourselves. Secondly, Paul is ever the pastor. He wants the Corinthians to know how much he loves them. Heartfelt love in action will enable us to put down pride. Thirdly, he is about to rebuke them strongly. In v. 8, he even alludes to the fact that they are acting like unbelievers. In light of this rebuke, he wants them to know that he does in fact consider them to be brothers in the Lord. Knowing that pride is the mark of an unbeliever will give us motivation to put it off. At the same time, we need the encouragement that comes from our relationship with Christ to deal with pride in a powerful way.


Paul goes on to say, "I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit." Some of the believers at Corinth were pitting Paul and Apollos against one another. Each group was claiming one as their champion, and that in a prideful way. We may liken the dynamic to that of one person claiming the superiority of his/her pastor, father, team, etc., over another. The things of which Paul speaks refer to the fact that he and Apollos are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. As such they are to be found faithful. Ultimately, they are not to be distinguished from one another in the sense that one is to be followed over or against another. They are both called of God to serve God in a particular way. Their ministries and motives will be judged by God Himself. The Corinthians are not to pass judgment in this regard. They are to serve the Lord in humble submission to the leaders God has given them and thereby receive spiritual benefit from the Lord Himself.  We too should follow suit.


More specifically, Paul refers to himself and Apollos in this way that the Corinthians might benefit by applying what Paul has said not only to their situation, but to themselves with regard to their own calling. They are servants and they are to be found faithful as well. So too are we.


Paul goes on to speak of specific benefit. He applies these things "that [they] may learn from [them] the meaning of the saying, 'do not go beyond what is written.'" Here, we come to a point of application. If we can put down pride in our hearts with a commitment to God’s word, the question becomes, "how does a commitment to God's Word help us to do such a thing?" The first part of the answer lies in the fact that a commitment to God’s word will cause us to want to know what it says. Paul is referring to that which is written in the Old Testament Scriptures. As Christians, God's word is the sole authority in our lives for faith and practice. If God's word says that we are to put down pride, then we as Christians will develop a desire to do such as God makes it plain that we should.


In the text before us, specifically, the Corinthians are not to judge the motives of men. In general, they are not to "go beyond what is written." Therein lies a second implication. A commitment to God’s word will cause us not to go beyond what it says. Tremendous benefit regarding the issue of pride is inherent in this commitment.If we don't go beyond what is written, we will learn not to judge the actions of others. This dynamic applies to actions that are not patently unbiblical. If we don't go beyond what is written, we will learn not to judge the motives of others. We may never do such a thing. If we don't go beyond what is written, we will not take pride in one man over another.In other words, the Scriptures teach us that we are not to go beyond what is written. It is written that we should judge the fruit of fellow believers. Beyond that dynamic, we cannot judge others.


More generally, we are to study and wrestle with Scripture in order to understand everything God has written to us in His word. However, if God's word tells us where our stopping point is, we must stop at that point. If God's word does not address a particular issue, we are not to speculate. We are to be content with the revelation we have been given by grace.


If we do not go beyond what is written, "then [we] will not take pride in one man over against another." If we judge properly, we will not judge improperly. We will not become arrogant with regard to ourselves or others. We will not pit one leader against another. We will not become factious and tear down the church of God


[Part Two Tomorrow]


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