Don’t ask me why I’m sitting here reconciling credit card payments and thinking about pride. Oh wait, I know. I see this company we have been doing work for, and I remember the email I received from the owner last week. He was questioning the different invoice amounts for the
“same” work at different locations. I thought I would take a shot at it and answer him, thinking I could do a pretty good job. I got about two sentences in when I realized that I was not the best person to send the response. There was someone else in the office, a master electrician with 20 years’ experience, who could do a much better and thorough job of answering that question and any others. So I quickly turned it over to him without a second thought.
So I see the company name this morning and remember that email. And the thought crosses my mind that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall”). In possibly being wrong. In possibly making the situation worse. In possibly being (severely) embarrassed. And God shows me I had an opportunity last week to be prideful, to show off what I (think I) know. To charge ahead without considering my options and without thinking of what is best for the customer.
But I didn’t let pride get the better of me. (And it’s ironic in this moment that I’m proud of myself for not being prideful. J)
So I start thinking about pride. Do you realize that pride is waiting for you every minute of every day? Genesis 4:7 says “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Sure, God was talking to Cain, who gave Him a less than stellar offering from an uncommitted heart. But He’s also giving us a great lesson.
There is always someone waiting for an open door. There is an enemy who wants to see us walk away from God completely. To be selfish and self-involved and self-motivated. To think only of ourselves and be concerned only with our best interest. To be proud to be independent and rely on no person or thing. He wants to destroy us by having us look only at ourselves. Peter describes it this way in 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
And what does this describe? Pride. It’s thinking you’re better, bigger, badder, smarter, braver, bolder, or stronger than someone else. It’s thinking you are the cat’s meow and the top dog. It’s thinking only you could have handled it as gracefully and smoothly. It’s thinking only you have the answer or know-how. It’s believing there is no one else as great as you are. It’s demanding your way only, with no middle ground, no flexibility, no compromise. It’s shutting people down, keeping people out (of our comfort zone), and pushing people (far) away. Pride confines us to our ideologies and opinions. It traps people in our boxes/labels of identity and personality. It keeps us from having meaningful and loving relationships.
Ouch! And it hurts to realize that I’ve been there. A lot. But it’s not a hopeless situation or an unsolvable problem. There is a way to change your course. It starts with recognizing the problem. You have to first acknowledge that you have a pride issue that needs God’s intervention.
If you don’t, you will have problems. Big problems. You won’t be able to have any kind of decent or workable relationship. You’ll be surrounded by conflict and contention. Anger and frustration will be your constant companions. Why? It changes the atmosphere around us, choking out hospitality with hostility, replacing grace with gossip and glaring looks, giving an undercut instead of understanding, and choosing frustration instead of forgiveness. Scripture gives us a great picture of what unresolved pride will do to us:
It brings shame. Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.”
It brings deception. Obadiah 1:3 – “The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’”
It effects (destroys) us from the inside out. Mark 7:21-23 – “21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
It takes away the good things in your life. Proverbs 29:23 – “A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
It keeps us from God. Psalm 10:4 – “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.”
It brings trouble in and around us. Proverbs 28:25 – “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered.”
It shows us our heart. 1 John 2:15-17 – “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
It brings God’s judgment and correction. Daniel 4:37 – “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”
Do you want shame instead of grace? Frustration instead of forgiveness? Deception instead of knowledge and fruit? Trouble instead of peace? Judgment instead of justice? A proud heart instead of a loving one? Then keep walking in your pride. Don’t acknowledge the problem and allow it to grow. Don’t admit that you are human and have weaknesses. Allow the devil to keep wreaking havoc in your life.
That’s one choice. But remember it comes with many consequences. The biggest one is that “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Timothy 5:5). And His plans for you don’t include being far away from you. He is looking for a humble and broken heart that realizes the only way to live is dependent on Him as it acknowledges its flaws and lack without Him.
So God is asking you now who you want to be. Do you want to be proud and walk away from Him? Or do you want His grace and mercy to be free-flowing in your life? The choice is yours.
How will you choose to react next time pride comes knocking at your door? Will you open the door and welcome it in? Or will you leave the door closed and spend time with God instead? God’s giving you the free will to choose – peace or pride. You can’t have both. So maybe we can encourage each other to leave the door closed. Are you with me?
Marie Fremin, 7/28/15 and 8/9/15