I believe that all of our problems with God and people can be ultimately deduced to pride – either in us or someone else with whom we have conflicts. Here is the scary part – most people that are proud don’t even know it. It is such a difficult confession to make that we call it other names to justify it. But it doesn’t change the diagnosis.
Just yesterday I read about an NFL player that was kicked by a player on the opposing team after the play had ended. He reacted and fought back and a penalty was called on him. After the game a reporter questioned him about the incident and he responded, “What do you expect me to do when someone kicks me?”
I thought about how the Lord Jesus reacted when He was falsely accused and physically abused, “…when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”. (I Peter 2:23)
Christ didn’t behave this way because of cowardice, but because of character and humility. The football player, though he had been done wrong, had a problem with pride. His rights had been violated and he didn’t want others thinking he was a coward.
All of us constantly struggle with pride. It is at the root of our sin nature and grows so deep in our hearts that it cannot be easily discerned. One reason it has such a grip on us is that we deal with the symptoms rather than the cause. (It’s always easier to treat the symptom than the cause). Symptoms are indicators of a deeper problem. So, if we understand the symptoms of pride then we know we have the “disease” and can treat it. Only then will the symptoms disappear.
People react to our pride. Spouses have arguments with each other because of pride. Then pride keeps them from making things right for days and weeks at a time. Many divorces are caused from pride. (The divorce is the symptom).
Parents and children have conflicts because of pride. Sometimes it is because of the pride and it’s relatives, stubbornness and rebellion, in the heart of a child that reacts to a parent’s direction. At other times it is because of the failure of a father or mother to admit when they are wrong.
Until we deal with our pride we are going to have ongoing conflicts with people, even those we love the most, and with God. If we could learn to identify the evidences of pride we could be aware of it’s presence in our lives and deal with it to avoid the consequences.
There are two consistent expressions that pride is in our heart – our countenance and our speech. There are others mentioned in the Bible, but I’ll just mention these two quickly and deal with one of them more thoroughly in later posts.
Pride is indicated by our countenance. This is an external expression of an internal problem. The Bible speaks of “a proud look” (Proverbs 6:16), a “high look” (Proverbs 21:4) and the “pride of his countenance” (Psalm 10:4).
This means that other people are aware of our pride before we are simply because of the way we carry ourselves, especially by our countenance. Again, you cannot root out pride by working on your body language (smiling, walking around with your head bowed, carrying a sad expression). This is only artificial and even giving attention to non-verbal cues is an evidence that we are proud. Our pride is communicated to others and they read it on our face.
Pride is also expressed by our speech. The way we talk – the words we use, the tone of voice in which we speak – communicates pride. Here are some Scriptures that teach this truth.
“…the tongue…speaketh proud things”. (Psalm 12:3)
“Talk no more so exceedingly proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth…” (I Samuel 2:3)
We will never hate sin as we ought to until we see it’s consequences and pride has severe consequences. It brings “shame” (Proverbs 11:2), “destruction” and “a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), and it will bring a person “low” (Proverbs 29:23).
Failure to deal with our pride will bring destruction in our relationships – with the Lord and with people. In the coming posts I will focus on how pride is manifested in our words. There are five specific ways in which we speak that indicate we have a proud heart.
These are battles I have had to face – and will face in the future. Unless I deal with my pride these indicators will always be there. As long as I tolerate them the quality of my relationships will suffer and, worse, I offend a holy God with Whom I have no right to be proud.
As a pastor I have counseled hundreds and hundreds of people, but I can count on one hand the times that I have ever heard these words, “Rick, I have a problem with pride in my life”. But lest I become too eager to point at others, I must admit that I haven’t said that often either. Even though I know it in my heart, it is a difficult confession to make.
How much better would my relationships at home be if I were to deal with my pride rather than the symptoms of it. Seeking forgiveness of those I have hurt and admitting to my pride is far different than saying, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that”. One deals with the cause (and is more difficult) and the other deals with the result (which is not as painful to confess). Ultimately, it wasn’t the words I said that hurt them as much as the pride that spawned them.
“How we handle our mistakes tells people more about us than the mistake does. We all have to eat crow once in a while and it tastes better warm than cold”. (James Link)
I hope that God will use these simple thoughts to encourage you to deal with the root of pride. It will not only improve your personal relationships, but best of all, you will be happier because your heart will be honest before the Lord and you will be close to Him.