“Shackles of Pride by Travis Renfrow”Categories: Seeking God First
“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall.” Proverbs 16:18
In the scriptures, there are some passages that are so universally respected that they are known to non-believers and believers alike. Proverbs 16:18 is such a passage.
For most of us, pride is a sin we can easily ascribe to others. Pride is easy to diagnose from far away, but up close it becomes more difficult to see clearly. One reason we fail to see pride in our own lives is because we are looking only for the most obvious expressions of it. Let’s consider what everyday pride looks like and how it holds people back from serving God.
Pride keeps me from evangelizing. More often than a feeling of superiority, it’s the feeling of fear that keeps me from evangelizing to the lost. That fear comes in several forms: a fear of rejection, a fear of failure, a fear of inadequacy, a fear of making a mistake. We may see fear as being the root cause of the problem, but what we are experiencing is the effect of pride.
Bob Dylan once sang, “When you ain’t got nothing you got nothing to lose.” The humble Christian who is unconcerned about reputation will evangelize freely and openly to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately many Christians hold back because they are worried about their reputation. They don’t want to be seen as the office bible thumper, or they worry about making a mistake and sounding like a fool. When we over value our reputation, we believe we have much to lose in evangelizing.
Rejection, which is the most typical reaction to the gospel, is a blow to the ego of the one spreading the message. But Jesus never saw it that way. In Luke 10:16 he told his apostles, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The reaction to the gospel has very little to do with us, regardless of whether it is accepted or rejected. The parable of the sower teaches us that it neither the sower nor the seed, but the ground that decides the fate of the gospel message.
Pride keeps me unforgiven. In 2 Chronicles 7 Solomon has finished building the temple. The night before it is to be dedicated to the Lord, God appeared to Solomon in a dream saying when the people are being punished they can seek forgiveness from God and he will relent. Seeking God’s forgiveness begins with abandoning our pride. God said in verse fourteen of that chapter, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
In modern times pride still is a barrier to our forgiveness. It keeps me from admitting I’m wrong to others and to God. Even when I know that I’ve sinned or wronged another, pride keeps me silent because I want to avoid the shame that comes with everyone knowing my shortcomings. It’s an irrational fear. Everyone is well aware that I am imperfect. It doesn’t take me admitting a wrong to reveal that.
Pride keeps me in the pack. Conformity is a natural desire. We often think of the danger of wanting to “fit-in” as a particular problem for young people, but conformity is a temptation for all God’s children. When God commanded the Israelites to destroy the inhabitants of the Promised Land it wasn’t for spite or punishment. It was because God knew the Israelites would struggle to maintain their identity as a peculiar, monotheistic people. No surprise, God proved to be correct. Young people do face intense pressure to conform to the behavior of their peers, but adults face the same.
Christians would do well to realize the purpose of our sanctification. Like Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-5, we should be dissatisfied with life on earth. Living among those who embrace sin should cause a longing in us to be in a better place. We should then aspire to be in heaven with our Father where there is no sin, no sickness, no death or pain. To achieve this, our conformity must be to the image of Christ, not to the ways of the world.
Pride keeps me in the pew. Week after week, would-be-Christians stand in their place in their pew and sing along with a song of encouragement. Services are closed and the would-be-Christian goes home in the same spiritual state in which he arrived. The heart is convinced of its sin and the would-be-Christian knows what is necessary to be saved from it. What then keeps the sinner away from the forgiveness that awaits him? Often it is pride.
When someone obeys the gospel, it is an admission that they need God’s forgiveness for sin. That person, at that moment, is revealing the scars caused by their sin. Perhaps more daunting for the would-be-Christian is admitting that for all this time they’ve been wrong. They sought salvation in some other way, they were convinced by a false teacher, and they feel like a fool. How sad would it be to know the truth, to believe it whole-heartedly, but to refuse salvation because of pride? If pride has stood between you and God, make the decision today to put pride in its place. Choose to serve God.