Pride is so insidious that we don’t even know when we are infected by it. We can defend and absolve ourselves, but if the symptoms of pride are evident (see previous post) then so is the root. And the root of pride is in every human being.
Here is a question that requires thought, but is important to overcoming pride. Are we sinners because we sin or do we sin because we are sinners? The truth is the latter; we sin because we are sinners. We have a predisposition toward evil even from birth. We have spiritual heart disease.
This is why behavior modification will not work long-term. The problem is one of the heart. Your will is influenced by your heart. Sins (what we do) is the result of what we are (sinners). Part of our bent to do wrong is that we are “puffed up” in our minds about ourselves.
The Bible says, “For from within, out of the heart of men proceed…pride…” (Mark 7:21-22) This bent to pride begins in the heart or the mind. The battle for pride, then, is in your mind, how you think about God, yourself, and others.
Here is the problem: our innate selfish and prideful thoughts only nurture our pride and over time it becomes a stronghold. A stronghold is a fortress where the enemy is encamped and is not easily overtaken.
Pride is a mental stronghold for most of us – and we aren’t aware of it. Strongholds in the heart bring a person into bondage and control their behavior to the place where they become hopeless of ever overcoming that sin.
Strongholds are untrue thoughts and opinions that are held and nurtured. Dealing with external behavior only deals with the fruit (actions) rather than the root (the heart). The sure result is that the fruit will manifest itself again.
The Bible tells us to “pull down strongholds” in our minds by replacing these lies with God’s truth (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Everyone knows when a person is in bondage to bodily sins (addictions, immorality, drugs) because they are so evident. But there are sins of the spirit that though more subtle also bring a person into bondage (anger, jealousy, pride).
This means since love is not “puffed up” (I Corinthians 13:4) that pride in my heart hinders my ability to love people genuinely. If I have incorrect thinking about God, myself, and people then I will not love them, but use them to further my own agenda and try to get them to serve me rather than serving them.
No one is exempt from this way of thinking. Husbands and wives deal with the symptoms of pride (which are very destructive) because they are in bondage to thoughts that make them want to protect their reputation (refusing to apologize). Hey, it’s a family affair that goes all the way back to our original parents, Adam and Eve. It has infected every person in the human race.
Someone left our church because they sang a solo and didn’t get enough pats on the back. That isn’t ministry from a heart of love. That’s a performance from a heart of pride wanting to be praised and honored. I believe God will withhold praise and recognition from us to serve in obscurity to show us our motives of pride and selfishness.
The question is, do we ever learn the lesson. Most often, we are so blinded by pride that we don’t even know we are arrogant (that’s an indication that it’s a stronghold).
Here’s a simple, but profound thought: humility also is a matter of your mind. The Bible speaks about the mind of Christ. His thoughts were centered on willingly humbling Himself, taking the lowest place and putting Himself last, serving others (Philippians 2:3-8).
“Humility isn’t thinking lowly of yourself; it isn’t thinking of yourself at all”. (C.S. Lewis)
Today begin to tear down those mental strongholds of pride. As long as pride is in your thinking you are “puffed up” and you will not love people. “Charity is not puffed up…” (I Corinthians 13:4)
Here’s a clue that pride is a stronghold in your heart. When was the last time you sincerely and humbly apologized to your spouse, your children, your parents, your brother or sister? As long as the heart is filled with pride, it will be defensive, rigid, and able to justify almost any wrong.
“Pride is a vice, which inclines every man to find in others, and to overlook in himself”. (Samuel Johnson)