“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal 5:26) We touched on the subject of pride’s harm upon unity in Part 1. But it deserves a specific point. Where pride destroys us and it is great evil against God, it is also a great evil against man.
When we choose pride the only thing that is going to happen is that we are going to cause harm and division with our fellow believers, and we are going to deceive ourselves. “He deceives himself.” (Gal 6:3)
Pride feels good to us because it immediately offers to us the notion that we are “lifted high”. But it is not a “lifting up” that restores us, it is a self-exaltation that comes at the cost of those around us. It is only a “step up” because it uses others at footstools, reducing them in order to be higher than them. Pride exalts itself against God and reduces the people around us, in order to be above them.
It so often feels like a solution to us because pride feels like a quick fix to our problems. Did someone sin against you? Then just imagine that you’re better than them! Feeling like life is meaningless? Just imagine that you’re a deep and special person! Are those other proud people making you feel less than them? Then just change your clothes for something a bit more vintage and join them! Pride often looks like identity to us in this way, but pride is not a true identity, it’s an idea we create into a mask to exalt ourselves above others.
All of these ideas have a cost. We cannot hope to walk in such ideas about ourselves and not cause disunity.
All of these ideas have a cost.
Pride doesn’t have to have a reason, we’ll choose pride regardless of whether someone hurt us or not. Pride is in our very nature, and it constantly wants to be satisfied. That is why pride will take any opportunity for itself. The ugly truth is that in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, rich or poor, we will try to use whatever is around us for pride. That is why a person who is “rich” must be so careful, and that is why a person who is “poor” must also be careful.
The “rich” seek pride in their richness. Generally this is an idea that they’ve done something right in order to have what they have. They scorn others because of this, and look down upon them. Today this can be far less to do with money, and far more to do with success, revelation, education, or just whatever life one has been born into.
The “poor” today seek pride similarly to the rich, for the rich seek it in their richness, and the poor seek it in their poverty. They seek to feel they are more than others, that people are indebted to them, that they’re deeper or wiser than others because of their circumstances. In both cases, the “rich” and the “poor” seek pride in their circumstances.
All of these attitudes just scratch the surface on how we act in pride, and these attitudes are constantly sneaking their way into the church today.
When we cover up pride with “my past”, my identity, my preference, “I’m just different”, “I’m so nerdy, you just don’t understand me”, “I’m just so enlightened”... all of this is pride. And regardless of whether it’s in the church or in the world, it’s the same sin. So how much more should we be casting it headlong out the door of our churches?
Pride is a great evil to our fellow man. It reduces them, harms them, and even abuses them. It is an entire failure to love our neighbor. And when we choose pride it will always bring division. It will create fierce competition with everyone trying to climb on top of the “others”. When a church allows pride, in any capacity, it will tear apart all true unity and community, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Gal 5:15) And it will destroy godliness and the true worship of God.
When you think you’re cool, it’s because you think you are cooler than someone else. When you think you’re awesome because you’re young, you scorn those who are older. When you think you’re special, it’s because you think that everyone else—or at least all these “other” people—aren’t.
You cannot have pride and love others.
Pride is an evil contempt upon others. It’s an attitude that would sacrifice all these “other” people in order for selfish gain. You cannot have pride and love others. You can love, perhaps, those immediately near you, simply because you join them with you in your pride, making it a “we” pride instead of a “me” pride. But don’t be fooled by this. Loving other people because it grants us whatever our pride is after is nowhere near love.
People who choose pride and start this fight of “provoking one another” (Gal 5:26) always feel they are not to blame, but they are entirely to blame for provoking others with their conceit and downright selfishness. Yet regardless of those who are going to continue on in their pride, what are we going to choose?
Are we going to continue treating others with contempt? Continue thinking we’re better, brighter, deeper, different, special? Or are we going to be a Christian that does the hard work to walk in humility? Let us remember what Christ warns us of, and that is not to allow evil to push us into doing evil. (Rom 12:21) When a person sins against us with their pride, it can be very provoking. But we must hate their sin and continue to do good: walking humbly before God and our fellow man, doing good.
Pride is an evil thing; it is the very hatred of God and of others. Having covered some of the basis of how pride works within our selves, how it resists God, and how it has contempt for others, we will go on to discuss how pride can take root in some of the most unlikely places.