Some Practical Instruction On PRIDE

By Alfred T. Schofield, (adapted)

The sin of selfishness, which we wrote about last month, may be specially characterized as the sin most unlike Christ; but the sin of pride is directly of the devil. The one is anti-Christian and the other is Satanic. Such, indeed, is the clear language of Scripture. In 1 Timothy 3:6 we see that being lifted up with pride was the cause of “the condemnation of the devil” (KJV); and in Ezekiel 28 we read the detailed account of how the heart of one who was once “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” was lifted up because of his beauty. But his wisdom was corrupted by reason of his brightness and he therefore fell from heaven to hell.

Pride Springs From The Heart
Pride is in every human heart. All are afflicted with this disease, although many regard it as an ornament rather than a blemish. The Word of God says simply that “a high look, and a proud heart” – so highly thought of in the world – are “sin” (Prov. 21:4). They are hateful to God (Prov. 6:16-17; 16:5) and to Christ, who is typified by wisdom (Prov. 8:13).

The root of all pride is in the heart: “Out of the heart of men, proceed … pride, foolishness …” (Mk. 7:21–22). How can a believer get rid of a proud heart? There is only one way – by sitting at the feet of Him who is meek and lowly in heart until we are ashamed to continue to cherish a quality so unlike Christ but so like Satan.

Spiritual Pride
Let us consider a few kinds of pride spoken of in the Word. We find one type, spiritual or religious pride, in the Pharisees. They were not ashamed to come before God with words like these: “God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are” (Lk. 18:11). Surely no such an expression finds a place in the prayers of believers.

We must remember that pride is one of the characteristics of the last days (2 Tim. 3:2) and therefore we have need to be greatly on our watch against it. Spiritual pride is perhaps the worst variety because it is not ashamed to show itself in connection with Christ’s name – a terrible thing when we think that such persons profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Let this sin be kept far from us, and let none who read these lines sin so fearfully against God as to use His truth to help them to commit the very sin of the devil – spiritual pride.

When we truly get into His presence, this can never be the case. “Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Sam. 7:18). But when we are out of God’s presence, then boasting begins (consider 2 Corinthians 12:7).

Pride Of Position
Another sort of pride arises from riches and position. We may see instances of this in Hezekiah (2 Ki. 20:13), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:30), Belshazzar (Dan. 5:22), Herod (Acts 12:21) and many others. The question is: “Is it seen in us? Do we in any of our actions display this un-Christ-like spirit to any who are poorer and humbler than ourselves?” Surely not! For if spiritual pride is terrible, this one is contemptible and clearly shows that we have never really understood the place where God’s sovereign grace has set us. It is alluded to in James 3.

Other Forms Of Pride
Riches are not needed to produce pride. This fatal seed is seen everywhere and often those who are poorest are most proud – which is especially the case among the Lord’s people. Many having become Christians and then mixing freely on equal terms with those they never could have met on any other basis, instead of increasing in humility, have lost what little they possessed and developed a proud heart.

When we talk of having very sensitive feelings and being hurt by remarks of others, it is often only pride, showing how miserably we are taken up with ourselves. Pride may be seen in outward adornment, dressing after the fashion of the world and in a manner unsuitable for a Christian. Another variety is being puffed up by gifts God may have bestowed.

The Remedy
The Lord Himself expressly declared that He is “meek and lowly in heart” (Mt. 11:29). We find Him showing this in various ways, such as by taking our nature apart from sin (Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:14, 4:15), and in His choice of position in life (Jn. 9:29). How many of us who profess to show His spirit, if left to ourselves to choose our place in this world, would have made such a selection? We are called to be conformed to the image of our Lord. Of whom among us is this true? We may well ask this question when we see Christians trying to be more successful in this world than their parents were or pushing their own children still higher than themselves. We rigidly obey the first half of James 1:9 – “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted” – but how many rejoice when they are made low (v.10)?

Christ Or Self
There is a line visible from heaven whether we on earth can distinguish it or not. On one side are Christians who, be what they may, would strive to be something more or imagine themselves to be something they are not. They cannot enjoy what they have because they desire more, and they cannot be gratified because they are never satisfied. Some are even ashamed of the position their Master chose, but are proud of one He refused to occupy. On the other side of this line are Christ and believers who display His image. It is not that we are called to change our place in life, but we are called to change our mind.

The Lord took a lower place than being a carpenter. He became the servant of all (Mt. 20:28; Lk. 22:27), even washing His disciples’ feet (Jn. 13:5). On account of all this He was despised (Mk. 6:3; Jn. 9:29) – and those who follow Him will be despised too. They will be called “mean spirited” and be pushed aside and trodden down by the proud and ambitious. It does not matter, for if those who suffer have drunk at the pure spring of humility in Philippians 2, their souls will be so refreshed that they will be full of joy at simply bearing the beauty of their Lord.

What God Thinks Of The Humble
Hear what God has to say of the humble:

  • He hears them (Ps. 9:12).
  • They enjoy His presence (Isa. 57:15).
  • He delivers them (Job 22:29).
  • He exalts them (Lk. 14:11; 18:14).
  • He gives them more grace (Jas. 4:6), while He resists the proud.

Saints are exhorted to put on humility and “be clothed” with it. The word used in 1 Peter 5:5 is beautiful, meaning that on whatever side we are approached, humility is seen. Believers are to walk in humility (Eph. 4:1-2) while guarding against false humility in themselves (Col. 2:18,23), which is only pride in disguise.

Nothing perhaps shows more of the transforming power of the grace of Christ than when a man naturally proud and haughty becomes truly meek and lowly in spirit. By contrast, nothing tells more strongly of the way in which the letter of truth held apart from Christ corrupts than when we see a humble, quiet person become vain and puffed up after coming among Christians. Sadly, this is a sight which is seen too often!

We plead then, in closing, that our dear readers seek to cultivate the two graces of which we have already spoken – unselfishness and humility – and become like Christ. Put away as hateful things the anti-Christian sin of selfishness and the Satanic sin of pride.

Who is sufficient for these things? Thank God, the answer is not far to seek: “Our sufficiency is of God” (2 Cor. 3:5); the meek will He teach His way (Ps. 25:8-9). May we look to Him in all meekness to put upon us more of the grace of Christ and fit us better to become humble followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Oh, may that mind in us be found That shone so bright in Thee – The humble, meek, and lowly mind From pride and envy free.”

Author: Sebastien

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