It messes everything up.
Pride is behind the anxiety I feel when I prepare to teach. It urges me to meditate on how much I have to lose or gain. Pride nudges me to plan more than I pray. Pride prompts me to flinch in shame when someone talks about sin that hits a little too close to home.
Pride is a soul set on self.
The puritans believed that our battle with pride will rage on every day for the rest of this life. In the very moment you feel that you might have conquered it, it is the most dangerous. We must be constantly on guard for sneaky symptoms of pride and constantly seeking to destroy it.
These six ways might be a good place to start:
(1) Consider the ridiculousness of pride
Pride believes we have something to boast about before God. Attack it by pointing out to yourself how very silly that sounds:
“Should that man be proud that has sinned as thou hast sinned, and lived as thou hast lived, and wasted so much time, and abused so much mercy, and omitted so may duties, and neglected so great means? That hath so grieved the Spirit of God, so violated the law of God, so dishonored the name of God? Should that man be proud, who have such a heart as thou hast?”
If hearing about your sin makes you feel insecure before God – don’t mistake that feeling as humility. Insecurity is yet another symptom of pride: thinking that your own merit is the grounds for your acceptance by God. Remind yourself of how crazy it is that you would stand before God based on your own resume, when Christ stands ready to give you His.
(2) View each day as an opportunity to forget yourself and serve others
Philippians tells us to ‘consider one another as more significant than ourselves.’ That’s an insane command. What if someone isn’t more significant than us? How can we possibly ‘consider’ them that way?
According to pride, viewing someone as more significant is only possible if they ARE actually more significant than us.
Paul answers pride with the example of Christ. We are certainly not more significant than Him, and yet He considered us all the way to the Cross.
Seek to serve those who you secretly think are least worthy of service. Pride may submit to people who are more powerful, but it is choked out by a heart that is so secure in Christ that it is eager to serve those who seem least deserving.
(3) Seek a deeper knowledge of God
Pride is making yourself bigger than God. So, to kill it, meditate on the bigness of God. You will find yourself decreasing as He increases.
Mediating on who God isn’t about sitting alone in front of a mountain range (although I did that just yesterday, and I do recommend it). The mountains – as glorious as they are – can teach you very limited things about the bigness of our God. His Word tells us of His infinite wisdom, His mercy and grace, His goodness and justice.
(4) Read the biographies of great saints
It seems like such a weird thing on this list, but I have to say – in my own life – reading the biographies of saints has been pretty transforming.
(5) Remember daily the danger of pride
Look for its sneaky symptoms. Don’t fall into the trap of arrogance when you’re doing well. Don’t fall into the trap of self-pity when you see your flaws. Both of these just feed pride.
(6) Pray for humility
Pride has one mission: to keep your gaze fixed on you.
It can live quite happily in a heart that claims to wage war against it – as long as the primary weapons are self-will and fleshly resolve. Pride will never be killed by you leaning on self to save.
But pride hates a bent knee. It hates a needy heart. It hates a dependent soul.
If we are to destroy it, it must be on bent knees, with needy hearts and dependent souls, asking the Spirit of God to be our sword.