Pride is a monster which anyone who has taken honest and careful inventory of their own hearts is all too well acquainted with.
I do not think it is an overstatement of the fact to assert that if we were to trace any and every sin to the moment it of its birth, the unseen moment our hearts began to turn towards rebellion and our minds began to pave the way for giving in to temptation, we would find that at the root of all our sin is pride.
Truly, pride is sin’s poison seed.
I have a hill in front of my house which is infested with blackberry vines. Every year I go out into them and I chop them all down to the dirt and then I go and buy the most toxic chemicals which can legally be obtained and drench I the soil with them.
And for a while they stay down. But in reality the roots are deep below the surface, and in time new shoots of fresh green growth sprout up and entangle themselves in my wives flowers and before I know it the hill needs to be hacked down and scorched all over again.
Pride is like that, even in the heart of the Christian. It always wants to come back, it always looks for opportunity, it is always ready to shoot up new growth and quickly overwhelm us. And our reaction to it must involve the sort of aggressive response I take to my blackberry vines.
The Christian life, while it is completely and totally grounded in the perfect work of Jesus Christ, a salvation all of grace and to which I can add nothing, although the Christian life is completely and totally grounded in those wonderful, central, foundational gospel realities; the Christian life is not a life of serene and stationary repose.
The Christian life involves the battle against remaining sin in our lives. It involves the hard work of ongoing repentance, and growth in godliness. The old writers called it mortification, which is another way of saying putting sin to death.
I’m going to take a few posts to look Biblically at the Christian’s ongoing battle with the sin of pride. .
Our key text is perhaps the most famous text in all the Bible concerning pride, Proverbs 16:18-19. These verses are short and largely self-explanatory.
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
The word translated pride in this verse carries a literal sense of “swelling excellence.” What an accurate word picture that is! That’s what pride does, it asserts its own excellence and then it swells itself.
It is this swelling sense of one’s own excellence which the text says goes before destruction, and this haughty spirit which goes before a fall. Again, the word picture is so accurate. The fall in the verse speaks of a stumbling, of not being able to keep your footing.
So here’s the Bibles picture of what pride does to you: it swells your head up until you can’t walk right and you stumble.
If you’ve ever watched a young child learning to walk, you’ve seen this. The issue for very young children is that the ratio of head to body size is substantially different in a young human than a mature human. Kids have to grow into their own heads.
When your head is about half the size and weight of your entire body then it is difficult to stay upright. You’re like a human bobble-head just waiting to topple. And that’s what pride does to you. It swells up your head and then when you try to walk you fall flat on your face.
The importance of killing pride in our lives is driven home in the next verse: Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
So do you see this? In this verse there are those the world would label winners, and there are those the world would label losers. The winners have the spoil. They have the prize, they get the reward. But if the cost of that prize is pride, then it is better to be with those the world would call losers- the lowly. It is better to lose out on the world’s prizes than to cultivate pride in your heart.
You can almost hear an echo of Jesus’ counsel that it would be better to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye than to allow these members to cause you to sin. Someone once said that in the Bible, sin never survives a cost-benefit analysis.
It is inarguable from the words of Scripture that this issue of pride is serious and relevant to us all. In the next several posts want to build somewhat of a theology of pride, and also offer several practical helps for fighting against it.
Let’s build a clear and Biblical system for thinking through this particular sin, so that God might be glorified as we seek to be faithful to the command to be killing it in our lives and growing in grace and love and humility.
(By: Nicolas Alford)