Buddy Robinson once said, “pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.”
Pride is defined as self-conceit, self-importance, thinking too highly of one’s self. Pride is overconfidence—the thought that one can never be defeated, and will never suffer humiliation.
Pride makes a person believe that his desires are worth fulfilling no matter who must be trampled over, or what standard must be broken. The description of pride by Martha Ostenso is vivid: “Edith lived in a little world bounded on the north, south, east, and west by Edith.”
Pride is the field from which many sins sprout, and is found in company with evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, and murders (Mark 7:21–22).
Pride prevents many people from being saved, because salvation requires one to admit his helplessness and need for God to save Him; and so there are in the church “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
Pride is not restricted to the world—pride is an ever-present problem in the Lord’s church.
God’s word warns us again and again of the dangers of pride. Proverbs 16:18–19 famously declares, “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 29:22–23 says, “An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
You might wonder why I identified “service” as the cure for pride. These passages make it clear that humility is the opposite of pride. But the best way to obtain humility is through making efforts to serve other people. Jesus’ own example proves that a servant heart is empty of pride.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:3–7).
Jesus Himself said simply, “whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27–28).
A fellow preacher once told me how he had preached a terrific Sunday morning sermon, and gotten all kinds of great comments at the door. He went home full of himself. Rather than saying, “welcome home, O great orator” or something like that, she said, “Honey, the baby’s dirty. Would you change him?” A few minutes later she said, “I can’t finish making lunch until you take out the garbage.” This dose of real life was putting him back in his place. Like Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), helping around the house and doing the nitty-gritty of child rearing reminded him not to be boastful. What an amazing thing to read John 13, and witness the Creator of mankind gird himself with a towel and fill up a bowl of water, in order to wash the smelly, dirty feet of His creation.
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:12-17).
Take a meal over the house of a sick or bereaved person. Stop and visit with a shut-in person; maybe stay a while and read some Bible passages together. Hold the hand of someone in the hospital and pray with them. It’s hard to feel big when lending a hand in a tough situation.
Start counseling other people who are having trouble with sin, and you’ll discover that they are not all weak or lousy. You’ll also realize that it could easily be you in that situation. Soon your confidence that such could never happen to you (1 Corinthians 10:12) will give way to compassion and mercy to help the one who has been caught. Jude 23 says, “have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” Nothing brings us down a notch, to a better position, like taking the time to serve others.