The Danger of Pride
by Rich Murphy
Of all the sins, pride is probably the most subtle and the most dangerous. Pride is a trap to those in the ministry, and it is one we need to be constantly on our guard to avoid. It is the sin by which Satan fell, and he is an expert at deceiving even the godliest of men to fall into its trap.
It seems that the more we are accomplishing for God and the greater "our" ministry becomes, the more susceptible we are to the trap of pride. What starts out to be a work for God's glory, can quickly and easily turn into something that is bringing glory only to one's self.
This is especially true in today's Christian culture, where so much focus is placed on big name ministers. Nobody listens to a Christian radio program, or television show without knowing who it is they are listening to. No pastor who cares for his congregation opens his pulpit to someone he isn't sure is both godly and anointed. So many opportunities rest on having a "name."
Any minister desires to preach to bigger congregations, in order to impact more people for the Lord. To have those doors open usually means having people recognize who you are. That in itself isn't bad; but the step from there to allowing that recognition to puff you up in pride is a very small one.
Pride says, "Look at me, look at who I am, look at what I'm doing." While this might be useful in the sense of gaining the attention of people so that we can tell them about the Lord, it is clearly not the means that God wants us to use.
We have been instructed by the Lord to lift Him up, so that He can draw all men unto Himself (Jn 12:32); not to lift up ourselves so that we can draw men to Him.
Pride is a sin. It is one of the sins that we inflict upon ourselves, which can cause us to become a stench in the nostrils of our God. It is not caused by anyone else, only by ourselves. We can't even blame Satan for putting this temptation in our way.
Take another look at that list. Jesus has placed pride in the same category as blasphemy, adultery, murder and covetousness. That's a pretty heavy list of sins He's listed and pride is right in there amongst them.
According to God, pride defiles us. That's an interesting word, defile. It means to make unclean, or impure. It is the same word that is used to describe someone who has ignored the command to observe the sabbath day (Ex 31:14). It is also used to describe the rape of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Gen 34:2).
In Leviticus 11:43, God uses both the words defile and abominable to describe a person who breaks part of the law. So, when we defile ourselves, we are an abomination before the eyes of God.
In Leviticus 11:44, God tells us to sanctify ourselves (separate from the system of the world) and be holy as He is holy. He goes on in the same verse to say we are not to defile ourselves. Or, we are not to do anything that will make us impure. Pride, as a sin, defiles us, or makes us unholy and unsanctified.
However, God doesn't stop there, by letting us know that pride defiles us. He wants to be sure that we understand, so He tells us He hates pride:
Considering all the commandments that can be broken and all the sins that exist, it is surprising that only seven things are listed here as abominations to the Lord. As you may have noticed, pride is the first of those seven. In reality, each of the others in that list can be seen as a result of pride.
The abomination called pride always leads to some sort of punishment. God will not allow His people, especially His ministers to continue in pride. He will always find a way to cause that person to fall and to be humbled.
In fact, the pride itself will cause the person to be brought down. Many times, God does not need to humble a person, because through pride, the person will place themselves in a position where they will fall. When we are full of pride, we think we are better than others are, incapable of being wrong, even incapable of sin. That is the first step in the trap Satan has constructed for the proud.
A proud person is like a blind man; although there may be a great hole in the road before him, he can't see it. Too often, it isn't until that person falls into the hole that they realize there is anything wrong.
Pride also brings about contention and causes people to put others down. I don't know how many times I have heard a believer, or even a minister, put down another for doing something they have done themselves. I'm not talking about baby Christians here, I'm talking about mature believers that should know better.
Look at that verse again. It says "only by pride cometh contention." Nothing else causes contention and strife among believers, only pride.
When we look at the Body of Christ today, we see constant bickering and lack of unity. Each group, denomination, or church thinks they are better than the other, having a greater understanding of the Word of God, and being better able to fulfill God's plan. Almost everyone in the church today looks at some other group of believers and talks about how THEY are wrong.
Yet, we can only have this attitude when we are so sure of ourselves, so full of pride, that we know we can't be wrong. How can we be the united Body of Christ when we are all looking down upon each other.
This Body of Christ cannot exist in pride, only when we all look to each other, realizing the value of each believer, and start to thank God for them. Pride, more than anything else, is destroying the Church of today.
True humility, on the other hand, is a character trait that God is looking for in us. He has called us to be humble. Not in a false way, but in the way of accepting what He says of us, and placing ourselves in His hands.
Why does the Lord say to be humble like a child? Because children don't know how to puff themselves up in pride. They need time to learn this ability from the adults in their lives. Children only know how to be themselves, and are quick to accept what their parents say that they are. We too must be quick to accept what our Father says we are.
When somebody first accepts the Lord, they are like a child. Every time there is an altar call, they are the first ones up there, ready to receive, ready to repent, ready for whatever.
Yet, we can look at the mature believers in the same church, and rarely see them at the altar. No matter what the pastor preaches on, they sit there. No matter what type of altar call, they don't move. Sometimes it seems that you could give an altar call to receive $1,000,000.00 and they wouldn't move. Why? Because of pride. They are afraid that going to the altar will give others the opportunity to think there's something wrong in their lives.
A truly humble person is always ready to recognize their own error. They are always ready to accept a true word from the Lord. They are always ready to repent. They are always looking at their own life, seeking what they need to change.
A truly humble person will look at a scripture verse, and use is as a mirror to search their heart. Whatever verse is read, whatever message is preached, they apply it to themselves. They don't think of themselves as better than others, only as another believer seeking the will of their Father.
Satan has given us a counterfeit for true humility. It is most commonly known as false humility. True humility is a heart attitude. False humility is an external show. True humility points the way to Jesus. False humility draws attention to itself by putting self down.
Take a look at these examples:
Please note, saying the things that are humble without the heart attitude of humility isn't humility, it's only another form of false humility.
One of the great blessings of being truly humble is that a humble heart is one that God can work with. God can not only do things in the life of that person, but through them as well. A truly humble heart is always open to God and to His Word.
Many believers who are living in pride don't realize the blessings that they are losing. They think they are doing fine, serving the Lord, and accomplishing His will. However, they are blind to their own problems and to what God wants to do in their heart. Instead of receiving God's blessings, they have God opposed to them, and are receiving more and more struggles in their lives.
When we truly are humble, we open the way for God's promotion in our lives. Instead of having to promote ourselves, we life Him up. The result of this is that people are ministered to. As a reward for our humility and faithfulness, God raises us up.
This teaching is also available in our book "Wisdom For Christian Leaders"
Click here for more information about this book.
Copyright © 2002 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.