Have you come across a somebody who has said something like, “I have a bad temper, I can’t help it. My staff knows it and my wife (or husband) knows it, and they know better than to go anywhere near the triggers.” This kind of information is usually transmitted with a chest puffed up and shoulders drawn back. Proudly.
What is the true evil here? Is it the bad temper? Hardly. It is pride.
Pride tops the chart of all evils – anger, drunkenness, greed, vanity, covetousness. These are just “flea bites” in comparison, according to C S Lewis. He says it was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
It is the easiest thing to figure out how proud you are.
Try to evaluate your feelings in the below situations:
The boss asks for your opinion (making you feel good to be the chosen one) and when it is given, he dismisses it as irrelevant or nonsensical in front of your colleagues. Rage? Humiliation?
You walk in to a party with a friend and the host welcomes the friend but fails to acknowledge you. Worse, the host takes your friend away and introduces him to others leaving you to fend for yourself. Embarrassed? Feeling small?
How about when in the company of friends, one of them starts to show-off – brag about the cruise, the new car or starts name-dropping. Utter dislike? Bad taste in your mouth?
Aren’t some people just annoying? You want to slap them and put them in their place. Oh! the fantastic scenarios you are cooking up in your head to teach that conceited little brat a good lesson. So satisfying.
I think you get the point. All of the above confirms we are prideful. We pray to God to make us humble, but we cannot stand being snubbed, patronized, belittled.
As new believers, we fall frequently but we get up again. Some realize the triggers and stay well away from those situations. These people take the long long road home. Hiding away in your prayer closet is not going to get you the skills to fight the good fight. The Holy Spirit will fix you to finally resemble the image of Christ – but you need to let God. The end game is to ‘I decrease and Christ increases’. How do we become humble if we are not in the thick of things?
Let’s say you have finally arrived at some level of humility – at least when dealing with the outside world. Now you have a very calm and humble demeanor and you speak gently and lovingly – all the right out-ward traits of a Christian. You take your seat at the back, inconvenience yourself to help others, build up a lovely reputation as being a Godly person, determine to turn the other cheek whilst hoping the situation will not arise.
And now creeps in spiritual pride.
You know the Bible and think you know better than the speaker. Nevertheless you sit demurely at the back with your Bible open and listen attentively.
You have a gift of speaking in tongues and is ecstatic when asked to pray in tongues at the Wednesday small group meeting.
People seek you out for prayers because it is known that most of your prayers are answered.
Your first love – Jesus, fades away to welcome a new god – spirituality.
If we lose our focus on Jesus, we are in trouble. Pride will lead us not so much to the secular scenarios mentioned at the beginning of this article, but it will surely lead us astray into false doctrine. Pride will make you open up to strange teachings, and you will see what is not there to see. Because at this stage of our spiritual journey, we are established in reputation among the flock. It is not easy to admit we were led astray.
For those who have fallen into this spiritual pride, let me share an interpretation of Proverbs 6:1-5 given by one of the early church fathers living in the Egyptian desert.
“If you have invested in false doctrine and have spread it publicly, you have been trapped by what you said.
Free yourself by meditating to God without rest that you may be awakened from the delusion. The intensity of your meditation will not escape the attention of the Lord (Intense – Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids).”
Oswald Chambers speaks of another kind of pride. He says that we will become stagnant in our Spiritual lives when we decide to bear it all by ourselves. We cannot. When we obey God, others are affected. What are we to do? Become the martyr and say that you will not hurt the others in your quest to obey God? Not upset the family or friends or hurt their feelings? If we take this road, we will have some relief, but we will bring grief to God. We need to trust God to take care of the consequences. Oswald Chambers further says:
“Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.”