At one point or another, we've all struggled with pride — myself included. Pride is definitely still a struggle I face at times. From our achievements to our self-image, pride can be hard to spot, and it takes so many different forms. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, we have more pride in our lives than we realise.
All man has fallen ill with sin and pride. Pride keeps away the humility, meekness, and reconciliation that we so desperately need. In the middle of COVID-19, we've seen the devastating destruction disease can cause. However, we 'sleep' on a disease that infects all mankind, from Adam and Eve to our generation; sin, precisely pride.
Maybe we brush it off, or perhaps it may seem like an endless struggle. So what is pride, and where is its end?
As mentioned earlier, pride takes many forms. It's constantly shape-shifting. It can be seen in many subtle ways, and it varies for each of us. For example, it could be the desire to prove ourselves, receive pity, and have a specific reputation.
With hearts naturally inclined towards sin, we naturally lean towards self-glorification and self-centred lives. The self-righteous pride that we have leads us to give ourselves credit for who we are and what we've achieved. By no means is this only restricted to outward appearances or actions. Especially now, where we live in a modern world that idealises self-satisfaction and self-praise, pride spreads and multiplies rapidly.
Once we've dipped our toes into this seemingly tiny pleasure, we forget that God is the only reason we are here in the first place. As written in Psalm 10:4, "In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God". When we become prideful, we simply forget. Just like that, we've forgotten all the undeserved graces that God has already given us.
Pride is so great, making it so dangerous to simply push aside. Satan was cast from heaven because of his pride. In Isaiah 14:12-15, we can see the pride that made him think he could replace God as the rightful ruler of the universe. We, too, think we're worthy of controlling things, controlling our lives entirely independently. However, it is foolish to think that all we have and all we are is thanks to our own hard work.
Pride imprisons us in foolishness, and not only that. In Proverbs 16:18, it is written, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall". So not only will pride stunt our spiritual growth, but just like any other sin, it will bring us away from God and destroy us.
The Symptoms of Pride
Though it comes in many different shapes and sizes, pride always results in the same thing. It produces the same fruit, the same symptoms. Here are just a few:
When we live in our pride, we are far more concerned with earthly things rather than things of eternity that truly matter. We value how people perceive us more than the state of our hearts before God. This leads us to only 'fix' the visible sins and leave the 'invisible' ones to have an outward sense of 'holiness'. Pride leads us to devalue true discipline and obedience, which also must happen when we aren't 'seen' by people.
It's exactly what it sounds like. After ignoring the evil in our own hearts, we go to blame and judge others. Not only is it ignoring our own evil, but seeing ourselves through pride-tinted glasses removes all the faults we see in our hearts. There is so much wickedness in our hearts that if we were to look at our hearts, we should be more focused on our own sins before we leap at others' sins.
Excuse after excuse after excuse. Of course, I'm not entirely in the wrong. There are so many reasons why I did what I did or why I am like I am! That is the way pride makes us think. Maybe it's after not doing your homework or after not paying attention in the service. With pride, we are never in the wrong. We find a million-and-one excuses to justify ourselves and our sins.
Whether it's 'subtly' boasting about achievements, feeling the need to achieve, or saying "yes" to everyone, a symptom of pride is the need for attention and praise. In essence, this symptom occurs because our prideful selves seek earthly glory, validation and praise from man and not from God.
These are just a few of the many symptoms of pride. It's not easy to spot, and because of the nature of pride, it can be tough to spot pride in ourselves. But, unless God opens our eyes and shows us our hearts, we cannot see the pride intertwined within our lives.
Like most illnesses, we cannot be cured of pride half as quickly as we contract it. So what are the first steps to getting better?
We need to cling to the truth, remember how we are hopeless without Christ, and remember how God has saved us from our sins. We must turn back to Christ and have faith in Him. Faith is to look away from ourselves and to look towards God. This is exactly what we need to do amidst our pride, where we have looked away from good and instead looked to ourselves. We must turn our eyes to Christ and have faith in HIm.
Faith is God's gift to us, "for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, faith is to call on God's strength and not our own, which in itself is a great grace.
On the topic of grace, we must remember that everything we are and all we have is simply by grace alone — Sola Gracia, one of the 5 Solas of the reformation. No one can boast because it is only by grace alone that we have been saved. So if we find pride in being 'holier' than others, remember, it is only by God's grace that we have come to know Him.
This brings me to the hymn "Grace Alone" by Scott Wesley Brown and Jeff Nelson. It reminds us that every promise and difference we make, every prayer and step of faith, is only by His grace. Each word we say, if we can be a blessing for others, it is only by His grace.
"Grace alone, which God supplies,
Strength unknown, He will provide,
Christ in us, our cornerstone,
We will go forth in grace alone."
By grace, and grace alone.
We are not better or worthy of salvation than anyone else. We are just as blind and sick. We have nothing in ourselves to boast about because we're all helpless. So, if we are to boast, it could only be about one thing; grace in God's goodness and sovereignty.
The Path of Humility
So fellow teens, while we live in a spiritually diseased world, it does not mean that we too should follow this flow. Instead, we must fight against our sins, against our pride that (if left undealt with) will lead us to a sickly death.
Learn instead to walk with God in the path of humility, just like Christ did when He was on this very earth. Treasure Him and keep His word deep in your heart. And most importantly pray, that God may guide you and provide His strength to help you overcome the sin that has plagued all of mankind.