Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
If you were asked, “What are you most proud of in your life?”, what would your response be? My first thought was my family. I can’t imagine any recognition, or glory, or fame, or accomplishment that I could ever do that could surpass the feeling of pride that I have in them.
But wait . . . there’s one even more important. For without God, I would not have this loving family that I cherish. I give Him all the honor and praise for placing them in my life, and I am especially grateful for His love, presence, and saving grace. I can’t even begin to imagine where I would be without it! I am proud to be a child of God and a believer in His Son, Jesus Christ.
We’ve all probably heard this verse many times, but until we stop and reflect on it more closely, we can’t understand its full meaning. Not all pride is considered unhealthy or sinful such as our pride in our families. Nor is a good healthy dose of self-esteem and self-respect a bad thing. God created us and He wants us to feel worth in ourselves and find value and appreciation in others. But our pride should be based on the realization that He is the giver of all things and He deserves the glory and honor, and not us.
The words “pride” and “proud” are found in the Bible 97 times, and should give us some indication how strongly God can oppose it in ourselves. And when we look at the definition of the word more closely, we can understand even more why He finds it so contemptible. Pride: “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity or importance, merit, or superiority; a feeling of honor and self-respect; a personal satisfaction or pleasure taken in one’s own worth, achievement, or success.“ This type of pride is unhealthy and sinful and consists of a spirit of haughtiness and self-importance. It is this pride that causes our own hearts to lift ourselves or others higher onto a pedestal than we do God. We are taking away His glory and placing it where it doesn’t belong.
A prideful attitude is one of the most difficult battles that we all fight, but God, with a promise from His Word, tells us that a prideful heart and a proud spirit are destined to fall and face destruction. We need to ask God to help us search our own hearts to make sure no such attitudes can be found in the deepest recesses of our souls. For C.S. Lewis said it well, “Pride is such a subtle thing. I usually don’t recognize it in myself.”
We need to remind ourselves that we are nothing without God. The success, or recognition, or wealth we might obtain are ours because of the abilities and gifts God gave us. We should never consider others “beneath us in dignity” for God sees all of us as His children. His answer for pride is humility and the recognition that all we are, all we have, and all we will ever be, comes from Him through His love and grace.
Dear God, may we always remember to give you the honor and praise for the goodness in our lives. For we recognize that without you, we are nothing and would have nothing. Help us to search our hearts for any signs of self-importance or haughtiness and replace them with a heart filled with love and gratitude for you. Amen