Monday, February 19, 2007

# 187: Anatomy of Pride & Humility

I believe this post is going to get me where it hurts. It's no wonder I never wrote on this subject before. The words “pride,” “proud” and “boast/ed/ers/s/and /ing” are mentioned no less than 214 times in the Old and New Testament. And 99% of the time, they are given a negative connotation. As God allows me to write on this touchy topic, I may be convicted as much as, if not more than, some readers. As I start to examine my life, I am finding several types of pride almost every place I turn, with only a little humility. Until I started studying this “pride-humility” subject, I was not aware of the harm pride does to anyone who desires to please our Lord in every way. It is no wonder I am limited as to what Christ’s Spirit could do through me. As I examine many Biblical resources, I am finding out that worldly pride is a subtle and insidious master at murder; or better yet, unintentional, spiritual suicide. I have been studying the Bible for many, many years without the intimidation of secular church doctrine, and I never realized how important this subject could be. I guess I called my pride by other names (euphemisms) without even being aware of it. Now I will most likely have a bit of painful house-cleaning to do. I will not limit God’s power with my pride. With God’s inspiration, I will repent for my folly and allow Christ to destroy my pride before it destroys me, and hopefully replace it with Godly humility.

I will pose several questions while attempting to find answers. 1) Why does God detest pride? 2) Where does pride come from? 3) How can we get rid of pride? 4) Is it possible to eliminate all pride in one’s life? 5) What harm does pride do to a Christian life? Is it okay for a Christian to have a little pride? If it is, what type of pride is acceptable to God? 6) Where does genuine humility come from? 7) Do the wealthy, who are the proudest of all, really need Christ’s Salvation? 8) What makes a humble person? 9) How can a person become great in God’s sight, simply for the pleasure of pleasing Him? 10) Why does God choose the weak, the poor and the unlearned to be the greatest in His kingdom? 11) How do pride and greed become partners? 12) How come the Bible is so contrary to what our human nature desires?

Before attempting to answer those questions, it is necessary to be certain that—or at least think—we are in good standing with God according to what the New Testament teaches, and not according to what church leaders teach. There is no sense in working on removing pride when there are more important aspects of Christianity to consider first. What I mean is that pride may not be an issue to most people who call themselves Christians, or who are not aware of its destructive power. For those in that category, it might be best to skip this section and go first to other posts of more rudimentary importance, like repentance, belief in Christ, Salvation, obedience, love for God and neighbor, etc.

I am not certain I can answer all those questions, but with God’s help through fervent prayer, God hopefully will give some answers.

1) Why does God hate pride? We must always remember our God is a jealous God. Exodus 20:5. “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. . .” Exodus 34:14. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He desires to be worshiped exclusively. And worldly pride is a harmful form of SELF-WORSHIP. All holy pride belongs to God. Most types of pride we may have are dung to God. When we have worldly pride, we receive pleasant feelings from our object of pride instead of getting satisfying emotions from being loved and loving and praising God. Said another way, we are giving special attention to our source of pride instead of to God. It is just like being married and flirting with the opposite sex. Your partner will be jealous of those you are flirting with, and therefore not be pleased with your actions. And if the flirting continues and gets serious, disaster for that relationship will be waiting in the wings.

2) Where does pride come from? The main source of pride comes from being deficient in how we feel about ourselves in certain areas of our lives. If we truly believe we are/were all we could be, without the human acknowledgment of others, pride would be nonexistent and humility could take over that life. At that point in time, with our permission, Jesus Christ comes into the equation and gives us His life. Now, if Christ is truly living His life through ours, why do we need to take pride in worldly things? His pride was in being the Son of God. Our pride should be the same, giving praise to God for His wonderful work, which is to say that if a person was a multimillionaire and took pride in his/her accomplishments, his/her pride gives satisfaction as much as—if not more than—the money. That person is severely lacking, more than most people, if he/she needs financial success in an attempt to fill a haunting void. Also, pride often displays a deficiency in self-esteem (wanting to be as good as, if not, better than, others). One thing the vast majority of us have in common is a secret desire to be respected and admired; along with that, we want to feel valuable and important. Guess what? Pride deceptively does all that. The foolish thing we are not aware of is that pride may seem to satisfy emptiness, but without knowing it, it is in vain; it is self-perpetuating; it can never be satisfied. Remember, most pride is secret and silent, even to the owner. It might be wise to read this paragraph several times to get a handle on what is being said. It is as novel to me as it is, most likely, to you.

3) How can we get rid of pride? Sure, easier said than done. For example, we may have a beautiful home, new automobile/s, etc. We are proud of them, although we may never have verbally used the word “proud.” We would have to ask ourselves, “Why are we proud?” Possible answers: Just to keep up with the Joneses, or wanting to be better than them. Or is it just part of the American dream? Give yourselves honest answers. If you do, you may learn more about yourselves than ever before. But, if justification of your pride becomes the answer, you are only denying that you are deficient in the spiritual part of your life (the real you) without evening knowing it.

Then some may say, “I can have all the valuable and pleasing things in life and still believe in Jesus Christ.” That may seem all well and good for you, by “wanting your cake and eating it too,” but it is not according to what Christ teaches in the New Testament. Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Pride may not be easy to destroy; it may cost a pretty penny, and even more. The only thing is, if one doesn’t eliminate pride, it will somehow destroy one’s chances of eternal life. Just remember, a person cannot be proud in one hand and truly humble in the other. They are antonyms. Take your choice. Don’t ever forget this: Pride is one of the most desired attitudes on this earth.

4) Is it possible to eliminate all pride in one’s life? There are certain attitudes in life that may be prideful and cannot be done away with, but could be changed from an attitude of pride into being appreciative: silently giving praise and glory to God, but making sure to keep your mouth shut. I mean things like a loving wife/husband, wonderful, obedient children, etc. or even uniquely wonderful attributes of self or loved ones. But never, ever verbally or even silently boast of them. These may be a source of pride, but somehow change the word “pride” into “thankfulness,” and wish others could have the same, which is to say, wish your much-desired traits or blessings first on your enemies and then on others, and really mean it. That does not include material goodies. This is an excellent way to be obedient to Scripture; when it says to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

5) What harm does pride do in the destruction of a Christian life? In other words, what is the destructive mechanism and how does it work? Most good things in life are a source of pride, while most disagreeable things are a source of humility. Humility is one of the Lord’s main requirements for His people, while pride is one of the most distasteful attitudes, and it is frowned on by Him. Why? It involves the word “glory.” We humans don’t use the word “glory” when referring to our own boasting, silent or otherwise, but by doing so, we are giving ourselves glory. And God is a jealous God and demands that all glory belong to Him. Now true humility allows people to see their faults and the utter dependency on God to carry them through life. 6) Where does genuine humility come from? The reason I use the word “genuine” is because a person can act humble–like a professional actor/actress does–and still be the proudest person in town. That person is displaying a false humility and hiding his/her arrogant pride. Genuine humility is the by-product of considering others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3-5. “Do nothing out of vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. . . . he [Christ] made nothing of himself.” The only possible way a person can have this type of attitude is to be so secure in the arms of Christ Jesus that he/she is not worried what others think about him/her. In short, Godly humility is only concerned with what God thinks of him/her, and does not care about human opinion. Remember, pride wants the attention—as previously mentioned but worth repeating—and demands the respect and admiration of all other people. Wow! If that is true (and it is), we don’t see much Godly humility; it may be as rare as hen’s teeth.

7) Do the wealthy, who are the proudest of all, really need Christ’s Salvation? God does not see much, if any, true humility in wealth, while there is, out of necessity, overflowing humility in the poor who love Christ and obey His teaching. This is the main reason the Bible has much good to say about the poor, while stressing obedience, with not a good word for those who are financially secure in life. In short, God despises pride and adores humility. Therefore, pride will not allow anyone to live and love as Christ commands/teaches. The humble attract perspective followers of Christ, like honey attracts flies, while the prideful rich, and even the wannabe rich, attract the proud and arrogant, the least likely to desire or need Christ’s Salvation, although many claim to be “christians.” The reason being: They have it made on earth. Luke 6:24-26. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all me speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Also, a verse from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: Luke 16:25. “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’” Isn’t it funny that these verses tell the exact opposite of what the organized church teaches? I wonder why. The answer to that question is scattered throughout this post.

The way America became the proudest and richest country on earth (meaning its people) is a disgrace to God—we are looked on as a Christian nation, which says that pride is a Godly attribute. It is no wonder we look at pride and naturally desire it more than all else. Shame on us.

8) What makes a humble person? Numbers 12:3. “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” A person who is great in the sight of God Almighty and knows it does not have to work or possess things and attitudes that produce secular pride. A person who has Christ-like humility is not intimidated by washing the feet of others or performing any other humiliating act. The reason is that person is not afraid of losing any of that greatness God bestowed on him/her by what man/woman thinks.

Therefore, if you or I know with certainty that we are great in the eyes of God and put all our pride in our great God and in our Savior Christ Jesus, there is no need for pride in worldly things and attitudes. That, most likely is the secret of genuinely humble people.

9) How can a people become great in God’s sight, simply for the pleasure of pleasing Him? Short answer: Believe and obey all that is commanded in Scripture, to the point which there is an obsession with loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. Luke 22:26. “Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” With this above formula, pride is destroyed and humility takes its place.

10) Why does God choose the weak, the poor and the unlearned to be the greatest in His kingdom? The reason Scripture speaks well of them is this: 1st Corinthians 1:27-29. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the WEAK things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may BOAST in the Lord.” [emphasis added]. Weak people don’t have much to boast about. 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10. “. . . ‘for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

11) How do pride and greed become partners? In order for pride to flourish, one must have things and an attitude to be proud of . . . and greed, to be sure—we don’t call it greed; it is given several euphemisms such as “prosperity,” “the good life,” etc. These are the mechanisms which make pride, which is never satisfied. Luke 12:15. “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” And possessions are the things that are supposed to satisfy, thus giving humanity their much-needed pride.

12) How come the Bible is so contrary to what our human nature desires? That plainly tells any person who truly knows God’s will one thing: What is taught, especially in the New Testament, will never fly. Organized religion knows that; therefore, in order to keep the seats full and the coffers overflowing, they teach a secular form of Christianity in order to stay in business.

I understand most people who call themselves Christian would disagree with these principles, since the majority of churches don’t teach it. The Bible, Old and New Testament, is chock-full of this teaching. For that reason I will give a list of verses to corroborate the harm pride does and the good humility accomplishes. There are more than several hundred verses to choose from.

New Testament verses first:

James 1:9-10. “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. . . In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

2nd Corinthians 5:12. “. . . so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart.”

Luke 1:51. “He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”

Romans 12:16. “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

1st Corinthians 13:4. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

1st Timothy 2:1-5. This one sounds like America. “But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, PROUD, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

James 4:6: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1st Peter 5:5 says the identical words: “Clothe yourself with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

2nd Corinthians 10:17. “But, let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Galatians 6:14. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . ”

James 4:16. “As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”

Jude 16. “. . . they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”

1st John 2:16. “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has done–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

Luke 1:52. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has filled up the humble with good things.”

Ephesians 4:2. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

James 4:10. “Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

1st Peter 3:8. “. . . love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

1st Peter 5:6. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Colossians 3:12. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Titus 3:2. “. . . and show true humility toward all men.”

James 3:13. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Below are the Old Testament verses. There are so many telling of pride and humility, but I will quote just a few since they mostly display the same principle.

Punishment for disobedience and pride:

Leviticus 26: 8-14. “But if you will not listen to me and carry out my commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you”: 19. “I will break down your stubborn pride . . . .” Also, turn to Leviticus and read through to verse 39. Then we can actually see how serious disobedience and pride are to the Lord.

Proverbs 8:13. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance.”

Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction.”

Enough is enough. I wonder how the Lord sees our great country, especially our Christian religion, with all its pride and arrogance. The answer is scary. After reviewing this post, it was difficult for me to understand. I have to read it several more times before it sinks in.

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