Pride is present in all of us. It is part of our corrupt nature and the root of all our sin. This is why love is more than learning “people skill” techniques. Often these are just means to get your own way by manipulating people.
That isn’t love, but selfishness rooted in pride. The Bible says that “charity is not puffed up” (I Corinthians 13:4). This refers to one’s inflated view of his person or gifts. Arrogance over a period of time continues to inflate the high view we already have of ourselves until we are intolerable. Someone said, “Pride is the only sickness that makes everyone else ill, but the person that has it”.
Here is an interesting fact. The words “puffed up” are only used six times in the New Testament and five of those are in I Corinthians. The worst church mentioned in the Bible was the church at Corinth. At the core of all of their problems was pride. It is at the core of all of our problems, too – at home, work, school, and church.
The poison of pride is in all of our hearts. We must be aware of it’s presence in us and deal with it ruthlessly. If we do not do so we will not love people, but aggravate them and push them away from us. This is always tragic, but especially when it involves your spouse, children, our siblings. Pride destroys relationships; love makes them strong and durable.
Here is the problem: pride is so subtle that most of us don’t even know it when we are acting in arrogance. As a disease is most often detected by symptoms before it is diagnosed so is pride. What are the symptoms being “puffed up” with pride?
Pride makes us lose the wonder of our salvation. The Psalmist wrote, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4) He is filled with wonder that God would even consider him, much less be interested and help him.
A person that has an entitlement mindset is not only ungrateful, but accustomed to the blessings God has given him. If we can take the incredible benevolence of God for granted, how much more so is it true of people?
Pride seeks after titles and recognition. Jesus rebuked people for seeking after recognition rather than being interested in a place that was unnoticed by others (Luke 14:7-11) He also told us not to pursue after titles that would communicate to others that we were superior (Matthew 23:8-10).
It is our pride that makes us use our strength of personality to get our way. Love serves and gives without any thought of being reciprocated.
Pride is competitive and “keeps score”. When we are competitive with people we aren’t focused on helping or giving, but winning. We want to look good and make sure that we get the credit. Pride compares with what others have while love defers and gives to others.
This attitude is contrasted with John the Baptist and Satan. John was not only content with his role as “second man”, but that Christ would be exalted higher than himself (John 3:26-30). On the other hand Satan’s pride made him concerned with equal rights rather than humility (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Pride is always balancing the scales making sure it isn’t cheated and reacts at perceived or real favoritism. Love doesn’t focus on the scale, but on the need.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble heart is the soil of which thanks naturally grows. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves”.
Pride has an independent spirit. In a family or any organization there is a tendency to think that our role is most important and that things wouldn’t go well without us. God instructed His church that we need one another and not to think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3-5). Humility enables us to work together, but pride pulls us apart into sectarianism.
Pride makes us argumentive. The Bible says “Only by pride cometh contention…” (Proverbs 13:10) The word “contention” means “to debate”. Wherever there is a verbal war somewhere there is pride.
Another Scripture that teaches the same truth – “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife…” (Proverbs 28:25). The word “strife” means “to quarrel”. Pride always has to be right. Love is willing to be quiet, even when it is right. It doesn’t have to have the last word.
Pride hurts others with words. The Bible states that words from a proud person are like a “rod” (Proverbs 14:3). This was a stick that was used to beat people. Words borne of pride are like hitting another person with a rod, leaving their spirit bruised and broken.
How many of our words in our home unnecessarily hurt the hearts of those we love because of our arrogance. Love is careful and tender with words, not careless and brutal.
Pride is conveyed by our countenance. The Bible speaks of a “proud look” (Proverbs 6:17) and a “high look” (Proverbs 21:4). Studies have shown that we communicate more with non-verbal cues than we do with our words. Do I cause those in my family to react to me because of my spirit and my countenance? Love likewise communicates with a kind spirit and warm countenance.
Sometimes I can communicate scorn, rejection and skepticism with my facial expression, without a word being spoken. My kids have told me. Pride also is seen in our countenance.
Last month I told my wife that I had pneumonia and bronchitis. I went to the doctor and it was confirmed. But I knew it before the doctor because of the symptoms that were present.
Do you have any symptoms of pride? I can’t go through a week without having one of these symptoms present in my life – and sometimes not a day. I hate it and wish it weren’t true. Until I get to Heaven there will be a battle with pride in my heart. It is no small thing as it affects my relationship with God and with people, especially those closest to me.
“Most of the trouble in this world is caused by people wanting to be important”. (T.S. Eliot)