Summary: Pride is the most subtle of all sins because it feeds on our good points, normally!
Respectable Sins – Pride
What are you most proud of? Do you take pride in your work? Are you proud of your children? Pride comes into so many areas of our lives and yet very few of us would like to overhear someone say of us: “They are a proud person.” You see Pride really is one of the most subtle and respectable sins in life today. Why? Because pride normally, (though not always), feeds on our good points. Rarely, though if you look at much in the media this view is changing, will anyone be proud of their sins. Though as I say that is changing more and more as we witness people being boastful of their sins and their immoral lifestyles. I would say to you that the day is drawing near when God will say: “Enough” and judgment will fall. This morning I want to share with you from God’s Word a challenge to us all in the area of Pride.
Pride – according to the Oxford English dictionary it means “having too high an opinion of oneself.” We would say ‘they are full of themselves’ or on occasions we may not be as polite as that about the person who is puffed up with pride. Let me interject at this point two important, if not critical, points:
1. Good self-esteem is not the same as pride. It is important to have a right perspective on ourselves. Poor self-esteem, poor self-image is not the same as humility and it often leads to depression and other emotional etc illnesses.
2. Becoming a Christian does not automatically erase pride from our lives. It often actually brings more things into our lives on which pride can feed – for example a morally upright life.
So with those two caveats in place let us look at Pride in our lives.
The Cause of Pride.
If you turn to Matthew 18 verse 1 you will see the cause of Pride displayed amongst the disciples. Pride comes from how we measure or view ourselves against other people. The disciples wanted to know who was ‘top dog.’ The disciples wanted Christ to create a pecking order amongst them. To us it seems a crass question and an embarrassing moment. The disciples haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory at this moment. But let me ask you something: “Are you any different?” In HT how often are egos bruised and conflicts created because pride in my position, my organisation, my standing has been in some way slighted?
You know what was at the heart of this question by the disciples was spiritual superiority. Each disciple had a mental picture of where he stood in relation to the other 11 disciples. Each disciple had measured his spiritual state against what he believed to be the spiritual standing of the other followers of Christ. Oh, I would never do that? Don’t fool yourself. I do it every week when I become the Pharisee looking at the publican and so do you. How often do you measure yourself against other people and place yourself above them? Be honest with yourself this morning.
Pride comes in the form of spiritual superiority. The saying ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ is true of us all but you know when I say it, when you say it, I wonder how much pride is in the statement? How much more superior do I, do you, feel to the person we have referred to in the statement. The truth is that it is only by the grace of God that I am not a hell bound sinner because that is all I deserve this morning.
Pride comes in the form of our achievements. How better I am than you because I have achieved more. Now competition is a healthy thing but it can quickly become unhealthy. I can quickly become proud of my achievements and use them to ‘put other people in their place.’ I can use my achievements to make others feel small and to boost my ego at their expense. But let me share with you a more subtle form of pride in this area – pride in my failures. I was recently in the company of a pastor who spent most of his time talking about how God does not use people unless they have been wounded in some way (now there is absolutely nothing biblical in that statement). What a lot of the other people in that room did not know was that he had been off ill for quite a long period of time, and it was right that he took time off to recover from his illness, but (and I hope I am not judging wrongly here) pride in his illness, in his brokenness, led him to place himself above everyone else in that room. Can I say, as humbly as I can to you this morning, some of you take pride in your failures and it is as equally sinful as taking pride in your achievements to put others down.