Preempting Pride

Pride is such a subtle, deadly disease. I find most often pride invades slowly and grows bit by bit. That is why, to me the ‘symptoms’ of pride are so helpful. Here again is that list (with credit to St. Augustine/Dr. Norris):

  • Irreverence: neglect of public worship and failure to keep a disciplined life of prayer and devotion.
  • Presumption: dependence on self and neglect of the means of grace, prayer and the ordinances
  • Distrust: refusal to recognize God’s wisdom, providence and love.
  • Disobedience: Rejection of God’s known will in favor of our own interests or pleasures.
  • Impenitence: Refusal to know and admit our sins and shortcomings.
  • Vanity: Crediting to ourselves rather than to God our talents, abilities, insights, accomplishments and good works.
  • Arrogance: Disregard of others and their concerns.

If you can see any of these matters in your own life, then confess your sin, repent and rejoice in God’s forgiveness. As a next step, it is good to consider how to proactively combat pride. Is there a way to keep pride from taking root in our lives? I made two suggestions in the message on Sunday. One was worship. The other was the posture of kneeling. Let me explain more about these practical thoughts and add a little more to each.

Worship. Worship of self is the crux of pride. So, if we discipline ourselves to worship God, then the source of our pride is starved. Worship can be singing songs to God or about God. But, this is a very minimalist view. Worship is obedience to God. Worship is offering our day to God. Worship is offering our work, family, talents, and treasure to God (this should sound very Romans 12:1).  Our lives shouldn’t be divided into “God-time” and “work-time” or “family-time” or “______- time.” Such division invites pride. First, it presupposes that your life “belongs” to you. Second, it feeds the unhealthy idea that you can run your life without God’s help, except for in key areas. Let me add this personal observation before I leave worship altogether. One of the most pride preventing practices related to worship is “losing” oneself in worship. By losing, I mean when you are so captured by what you are singing or seeing or experiencing that the awe of God leaves you with a diminished sense of self. I hope that you’ve had this incredible reality occur in your life. If not, I truly feel sad for you. Being in a moment with God where your heart is captured by Him and nothing else matters is truly life altering. And I know for some it’s a real challenge to get there. Let me put it this way though, I would guess all of us have an activity or person or pastime that makes us ‘lose’ ourselves. When you really love someone or something that happens. Prayerfully, you will lose yourself more often in worshiping God, as you actively seek to, by the Holy Spirit’s work, rid yourself of fellowship robbing pride.

Kneeling. You kneel to beg. Not that beggars can’t be proud. Pride doesn’t only afflict the well off. Still, as a posture, kneeling is for the humble. When we kneel in prayer, before God, we are in a very human way saying, “I come with nothing.” I know that for some there is a matter of health that keeps you from kneeling. For others, it’s not a matter of the body but of the soul. You don’t want to kneel because it’s too beggarly. It makes you feel weak and small. Now I certainly understand that not everyone can kneel (and some shouldn’t) and I appreciate that kneeling doesn’t beget humility. It’s the posture of the soul not the body we are after. Still, in my own weakness, I’ve found kneeling as a great way to physically remind myself, of my empty handedness, of how lowly I really am. So try it. Maybe just for a minute or so. Maybe as the first thing you do in the morning or the last thing you do at night. Maybe you just add this element to your time of prayer whenever that is.

There are bound to be other ways to combat pride. An accountability partner or spouse with permission to call out pride in your life? Regularly serving those less fortunate than you? Teaching children? Sitting with the lonely or aged or sick? When there is a disease as deadly as pride, we have to combat it with more than one ‘medicine’. Try some of these or others you think of. See what works. Rejoice in the humility God gives as you preempt pride.

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