Pride is very much a part of our depraved nature. It is often the cause of conflicts, broken families and schism in interpersonal relationships. This wicked sin literally runs “in the blood”. Our first parents fell because of their pride. In their aspiration to “… be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3: 5), they succumbed to the wily words of Satan, disobeyed God and partook of the forbidden fruit. Since then, pride has been found in every human heart. That is why we struggle daily with this sin. While we look to the Lord to overcome our pride, we must also do our part. In our article last week, we looked at the practical steps we can take to cultivate a spirit of humility:
1. Remember that we are but sinners saved by grace
2. Consider our own inadequacies and past sins
3. Watch out for proud thoughts and responses
In what other ways can a believer overcome pride and promote a lowly spirit?
4. Review our conduct
Whether we are conscious or not, all of us sin daily – in the way we think, speak and act. Sadly, however, most of us fail to check our lives for sinful tendencies, the chief of which is pride. We are quick to point a finger at the faults of others. But we are slack when it comes to examining our own hearts.
A regular review of our heart and conduct, coupled with a sincere confession of our sins to God, will keep us humble (Ps. 19: 11-14). True self-knowledge is the first step to humility. Like the despised publican, let our prayer be: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18: 14).
5. Avoid a critical spirit
We must not easily disparage or despise others. Our words should be kind, gracious and edifying. Should there be a need to reprove or correct someone, let us do so with meekness: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6: 1).
6. Be open to correction
A proud person cannot accept correction of any kind; in Proverbs 21: 24, he is called a “scorner”. He is unteachable because he thinks himself wise enough. He refuses correction or instruction and ends up a fool because he learns nothing. This was the case with the Syrian General, Naaman. Because of his pride, he almost missed the opportunity of God’s healing. Had it not been for his servants who persuaded him to heed the instruction of the prophet Elisha, he would have remained a leper all his life (II Ki. 5: 9-14).
A teachable spirit is one of the marks of humility. May we be willing to be instructed, to accept correction and to learn from others.
7. Count it a privilege to serve God and others
In our ministry to people, we may not receive due recognition or reward for our services. How should we respond? With a humble spirit: “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17: 10). Always count it a blessing and privilege to serve God and others: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3: 23).
8. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or contention
Pride is contentious. It affects others in the church as well as the Body life. One who overrates himself causes discord and division.
The apostle John singled out one such person for our instruction – Diotrephes: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (III Jn. 9-10). The single Greek word (“philoproteuo”) for the phrase – “who loveth to have the preeminence” – means “one who loves to be first, to dominate, to lord it over others”. “Prating” (“phluareo”) means “to overflow with talk” – in this case, malicious talk. Diotrephes “who loveth to have the preeminence among them” opposed John. He not only refused to minister to the apostle but also tried to stop others from doing so.
Pride is an affront to God (Prov. 16: 5). Let us take heed to the exhortation of the apostle Paul: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philp. 2: 3-4). May the Lord grant us the grace to maintain a humble spirit at all times.
(…to be continued)