Unholy Pride

One of the greatest problems that we men struggle with is our pride. I have often thought that God perpetrated a really cruel joke on the male of the species, implanting in our DNA such an insidious obstacle to Christian humility, and by extension, obedience.

Now I am sure I will hear from some of the ladies that they too are troubled with prideful tendencies and I don’t argue that, nor do I minimize or trivialize their burdens in this respect. It’s just that in a man I believe it’s more prevalent. It is, more often than not, part and parcel to his nature.

One thing is certain; the prideful characteristic in a man makes him rebellious to God and unforgiving, unloving to mankind. Pride is a learned attribute that has often been pressed on us by our culture. How often have we heard a complimentary “He was (is) a very proud man”?, or a disdainful “Have you no pride?”, as if he were flawed or incomplete without it.

So today let’s dissect pride and discuss how we will deal with it. Definition: ‘A company of lions.’ Oops – that’s the wrong one. Definition: 1. too high an opinion of one’s importance or superiority; 2. arrogant behavior; 3. gratification arising from one’s possessions or accomplishments; 4. conceit; 5. disdain. I’m sure we could take out the Thesaurus at this point and expand on that short list ad nauseum.

Muhammad is supposed to have said, “He in whose heart there is as much as an atom of arrogance will not enter paradise,”  and Thomas Aquinas wrote that “inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin.” Of the seven deadly sins pride is considered the greatest. In his Poor Richard’s Almanac, Benjamin Franklin wrote of pride, “To be proud of virtue is to poison yourself with the antidote.” Elbert Hubbard, an early twentieth century satirist, wrote, “There was one who thought he was above me, and he was above me until he had that thought.”

The characteristic of pride in a person sets us apart from God like no other. In my view it is sort of the CEO of a company of sinful characteristics; those being intolerance, impatience, and being judgmental and prejudiced.

I am intolerant of you when I tell myself that I don’t care about your needs, your wants, or your purposes. I have no respect for you and I hold you in contempt. As I am impatient with you I am saying that you are of less value than me and your time is less valuable than mine. As I judge you I adorn myself with importance and worthiness. In my arrogance I assign you in to an inferior category, to a class less honorable, a person less worthy than I.

In my pride I crown myself with lordship over you and view myself as either more worthy of respect, more honorable, or more valuable. As a Christian, my self appointed lordship is not consciously planned, intended, nor even realized. It is often the product of a subliminal fear of inferiority or desire to elevate our own self image.

So how do we overcome this tendency? How do we combat this most natural obsession for one-up-manship? From a logical point of view we must have a plan. One of my wife, Judy’s oft repeated clichés is “When you fail to plan, you can plan to fail”. From a biblical point of view we must make God’s Holy Word part of that plan. It does not matter if our prideful temptations are of Satan or of our own inherent sinful nature.

In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul tells us our struggle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (vs12) That’s Satan and his minions, and somewhere among those rulers, authorities, powers, and forces I expect is our sinful nature. As Paul lists an array of armor for our defense, (the armor of God), the one weapon he points out is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. (vs17b)

That my friends is our weapon against pride. As I have shared with you previously I have made 2 Corinthians 10:5 my life verse, my maxim, my mantra. It is my weapon of choice to combat the evil I encounter every day. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We don’t find “WWJD” written in the Bible – not in those exact words but 2 Corinthians 10:5 is about as close as I find; particularly those last ten words. “Take captive EVERY THOUGHT” and do what with the captive thought? “Make it OBEDIENT TO CHRIST” WWJD Pauline style.

Now obviously the scriptural verse that works for me may not be the same one that you lean on in that time of need. A few others I think of are Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” or maybe Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. or Psalms 101:5, “Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure”. There are many more.

A few weeks ago I wrote about loving the unlovable and how as we do not love those we might consider unlovable, we then become the unlovable. Unholy pride makes us unlovable. I suppose I should state the obvious, that there is righteous pride that God honors. We can certainly be proud of friends and loved ones for hard won accomplishments. I believe we can feel proud of God using us as His tool to achieve something for His Kingdom as long as we acknowledge that it was by His will and His grace that we are used.

Let us all pray that God’s Holy Spirit will awaken us to our prideful inclinations, that we may turn away from those demonic and unloving propensities, and instead look for something positive in everyone we encounter whether they are near to us or far away.

Comments

  1. Anna Meehan says:

    Michael – this is “right” on! It was “quiet” today and I was able to this amazing article. It’s apparent that we are all “guilty” of pride. It’s “the” stronghold that threw Lucifer out of Heaven. Lord have mercy on us to “humble” ourselves to recognize it and ask for HELP!!!!!

    I’m praying for you. You didn’t feel good. Expecting that you’ll be feeling better soon!

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