We just can’t afford to become puffed up with pride! Pride reveals itself in so many different ways. Usually, when I think of someone who is prideful, I see a picture in my mind of a woman dressed “hoity-toity” who walks around with her nose in the air—she’s usually not smiling or friendly either.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve come to understand that pride doesn’t always display itself so obviously. I believe pride is at the root of impatience, for example.
When I drive my son to school in the morning, sometimes I come to the stop sign at our neighborhood entrance and don’t have to wait because there is no oncoming traffic. Other times, cars are headed my way and I have to wait for them to pass before I can pull out. Well one day, I noticed myself getting really impatient about having to wait on those cars. I pondered the situation for a moment, and realized that I was being prideful in heart over it. I was grumpy about waiting for the cars to move by—after all, I am so important that I should not have to wait on them! I even found myself edging out into traffic in a way that might scare them. Not good!
That’s pride…it causes us to behave in unusual ways! Are you a person who becomes easily annoyed with others? Perhaps there are lots of people in your life who try your nerves. I was driving along recently in my car and found myself thinking about a particular person who annoyed me. After a few minutes I came to myself, realized what I was entertaining, and questioned myself. I felt the Lord speak to me that pride can be present if I become easily annoyed by others.
I guess it’s time to share my dirty laundry a little. I used to get annoyed with other people because they didn’t treat me the way I treat them; in other words, I expected those around me to be just like me. For example, I sometimes felt like I threw all kinds of warm words toward others, but they didn’t give the same back. Shouldn’t others do for me what I do for them? Then things would go a lot smoother! When I greet people, I typically have a spring in my step and lots of enthusiasm. I often expected others to greet me in the same manner and felt put out if they didn’t. Well, what sense does that make? Shouldn’t others be free to behave according to their own personalities? Since when am I the standard for personal greetings?
The Lord rebuked me over the whole thing a long time ago. He showed me that I felt rejected when others didn’t seem enthusiastic over greeting me. Due to this feeling of rejection, I became put out with the one who didn’t reciprocate my warm welcome. Well, obviously that wasn’t fair to the other party. They didn’t realize they were dealing with an over-sensitive, insecure person, and I really had no logical reason to feel rejected.
Maybe you think I’m stranger than ever because of what I’ve just shared, but I bet you’ve experienced similar phenomena in your own life! We women can be a strange breed indeed.
Isn’t that how it usually works though? We become frustrated with another woman, and she has no idea. Really, she didn’t do anything to hurt us intentionally in the first place. Most people don’t.
Pride in the Kingdom
Pride reveals itself in many forms. But let’s talk about pride in God’s Kingdom and within the Church. More specifically, we cannot allow the position where God has appointed us to become a source of pride. The following scripture is often repeated:
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)
From time to time, I think we all need to be refreshed in the area of staying free from pride. It can creep into our lives in seemingly small ways—ways that go unnoticed at first.
* Pride is present when it’s my way or the highway.
* …if I always have to be right.
* …if I overestimate myself and underestimate those God has placed around me; I have an exaggerated opinion of my own importance (Romans 12:3).
* …if I don’t show appreciation or say “thank you” when it is due to someone.
* …if I constantly brag about the money I’m making, or how good looking I am.
* …if I am impatient with others.
* …if I speak to others in a condescending manner.
* …if I interrupt others when they are talking or having a conversation.
These are only a few examples of pride at work and they may help you to identify pride within yourself. But there is no substitute for the Holy Spirit. He can also be trusted to get your attention when you are becoming prideful on a personal level.
The Demise of Kings
I consider the pride that arose in the heart of King Saul over the office that God gave him. He started out on the right foot, but later lost his respect for the One who appointed him. His kingdom was ripped out from beneath him as a result (see 1 Samuel 13:14). I don’t want that to be written about me. I don’t want it to be recorded in any book that pride caused my demise.
Another who comes to mind is King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled during the time that Daniel had influence in Babylon. At one point the king had a frightening dream and turned to Daniel for the interpretation. The Lord revealed the meaning of the dream to Daniel. However, he did not want to share it with his king—it described the ruin of Nebuchadnezzar unless he would begin to serve God.
Nebuchadnezzar chose to go his own way, and he would not humble himself before the Lord.
At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. The king said, Is not this the great Babylon that I have built as the royal residence and seat of government by the might of my power and for the honor and glory of my majesty? (Daniel 4:29-30)
Just look at the way he dotes on himself! He gives God no credit whatsoever, even though it is the Lord who gives the kingdom of men on the earth to whomever He chooses (Daniel 4:25, 32). Nebuchadnezzar says that he is the one who built the great Babylon by the might of his own power and for the glory of his own majesty. His failure to acknowledge God’s role in his kingdom will cost him.
While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you… (Daniel 4:31)
Nebuchadnezzar loses his kingdom, and the forecast for his future is not pretty.
And you shall be driven from among men and your dwelling will be with the living creatures of the field. You will be made to eat grass like the oxen, and seven times [or years] shall pass over you until you have learned and know that the Most High [God] rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He will. That very hour the thing was [in process of] being fulfilled… (Daniel 4:32-33)
First, Daniel gave the king a fair warning through the interpretation of his dream. Nebuchadnezzar refused to heed it, and paid a handsome price. He became like a wild animal, roaming in the wilderness—all because he would not humble himself and acknowledge God.
Be on guard—the same can result in our lives if we lose sight of the One who appointed us. Pride would cause us to lose sight of the purpose for which God planted us in the Church. Pride would cause us to forget about those we’re privileged to serve, and place the emphasis on ourselves and what pleases us.
Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. (Romans 12:16)
If you want to live in harmony with other people, a necessary component is humility and a low opinion of yourself. It’s no accident that the scripture above begins with a command to live in harmony and is immediately followed with a command, “do not be haughty.” It is difficult to live in harmony with a haughty, high-minded person who looks down on others. As children of God, it is okay to realize a gift or talent in our lives, but not fitting to become puffed up over it.
A Place of Honor
Now He told a parable to those who were invited, [when] He noticed how they were selecting the places of honor, saying to them,
When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not recline on the chief seat [in the place of honor], lest a more distinguished person than you has been invited by him,
And he who invited both of you will come to you and say, Let this man have the place [you have taken]. Then, with humiliation and a guilty sense of impropriety, you will begin to take the lowest place.
But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when your host comes in, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher! Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit [at table] with you.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank).
This principle of humility rings true throughout all of God’s Word. How humiliating it is when we elevate ourselves and are later rebuked and asked to step down a level. It is truly better to hold a modest opinion of oneself to begin with, and then to be promoted later by another who has the ability to do so.
I well remember a friend of ours who was speaking at a Christian conference. There were hundreds of students gathered to listen to him. The auditorium was black as night and a bright spotlight shone on him as he stood on the stage. As I listened, I remember thinking to myself, “He seems like he’s getting prideful in his heart.” It must’ve been because of his mannerisms, or something he said—I can’t remember. Not too soon after that, he accidentally fell off the front of the stage. At once, a hush fell over the crowd. And he didn’t pop up right away; it took a couple of minutes. As he emerged from the dark pit at the front of the stage, I sensed that his fall could’ve been the result of pride in his heart. Only the Lord knows for certain…it was merely a sensing inside of me.
We must continually be on guard against being high-minded or prideful over a gifting of God within us, or a position He’s appointed us to. An elevated opinion of oneself will always lead to downfall.
(The article above is an excerpt from the book Leading Ladies in the House of God, by Brigit Lee.)