In our last blog entry, we considered the dangerous nature of pride. Pride can be defined as thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, and as a consequence, esteeming God less and loving others less. Pride is like an ugly infection. It is repulsive to all around us and it eats away at our very soul.
Today, let’s take out the scalpel of God’s Word and apply God’s wisdom for how, by the Spirit, we can cut out pride from our lives.
1. Cultivate a hatred toward all forms of pride.
Proverbs 8:13—“The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
One of the best antidotes against a sin is to hate it. And so the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil, including pride and arrogance. We should never expect to put off pride if we are attracted to it in our lives.
So, think of those proud desires that you have: the desire to demand glory from others, the desire to be seen as the most important or the most intelligent or the most talented, the desire that craves the spotlight from others, the desire for you to increase and for others to decrease.
How do you view those desires? Do you have a secret love for them? Do you tolerate them? Scripture is clear. We are called to hate those desires. How can we expect to put off pride if we do not hate it? Consider how evil pride is—it is stealing glory from God. Consider how twisted it is—we were made to love God and love others, and pride keeps us from doing both. Consider how ugly it is—pride is a kind of spiritual scoliosis, where we are bent in ourselves—it’s profoundly ugly. We should hate pride.
2. Be on guard against the great test of praise.
Proverbs 27:21—“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.”
This is an amazing truth. We tend to think of praise as only a positive thing—who doesn’t like being praised? But we should realize that receiving praise is one of the greatest tests that we can face. Praise is like a scorching hot fire that will draw out and expose any pride that is within us.
Now, it’s not that we shouldn’t praise or thank other people—we should do this! But praise can easily cause us to be puffed up. We can think of ourselves far more highly than we ought, and become like Herod, who heard the crowd cry out, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” (Acts 12:22). What did Herod do? He was silent. He liked it. Maybe he even believed it.
We can also become addicted to praise, and become devastated when we don’t receive it. Maybe we wear a new article of clothing, and no one says anything. Maybe we sacrifice our time and energy and do a good deed for others, and they aren’t grateful. Maybe you make a great meal and you don’t receive any praise. How do you respond? That’s another way that the crucible of praise tests you.
Be on guard for the test that praise is, and always be quick to give glory to God.
3. Be convinced that great reward will come with humility.
Proverbs 3:34—“Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.”
Just as God will most certainly oppose the proud, you can trust that God will most certainly give honor to the humble.
You probably have heard the expression: “All roads lead to Rome.” In the ancient world, whatever road you were on, you could trust that the end destination would be Rome. When it comes to humility, you can trust that the end destination is always, always one of honor. God will honor the humble.
4. Grow in the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 3:7—“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
This is the most foundational solution to pride. If pride and the fear of the Lord are antithetical to one another, then the ultimate solution for thinking too much of yourself is to revere and honor God. There is no way that we can truly put off pride is we don’t fear the Lord. We might become better at hiding our pride, but we will never get rid of it.
So, the call is fear the Lord. Come to know God’s awesome holiness, majesty, might, honor, and glory. Come to see your sinfulness and neediness in light of who he is. Confess your sin to God, look to Christ for forgiveness, and rest in his full and complete pardon. A person who does this is one who will grow in humility.
Or, as John Flavel so wonderfully put it centuries ago, “They that know God will be humble. They that know themselves cannot be proud.”