Turn that Proud Upside Down

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Our society celebrates pride. We may not necessarily call it pride, as there are many people who are aware that being proud is a thing that can be taken too far and be destructive. So, we replace this word with other words that sound better, like confidence or self-love, and we glorify it as a means to grow in our careers and in leadership. Unfortunately, we even use it to justify figuratively pushing others out of our way. Even as a Christian, when pride is disguised these ways, it’s hard not to jump on board. Search online for some confidence-inspiring quotes, and you’ll find many things that sound encouraging and empowering.

“Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.” Jo Blackwell-Preston

“Wouldn’t it be powerful if you fell in love with yourself so deeply that you would do just about anything if you knew it would make you happy?” Alan Cohen

The Bible, however, tells us the complete opposite.

 

Philippians 2:3   
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

 

Proverbs 11:2
Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

 

It’s hard to see fault in trying to better yourself, but the enemy has a way of twisting things, taking it too far and making it feel right. However, destruction ultimately follows pride—the unhealthy kind, that is.

 

Proverbs 18:12    
Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.

Christian apologist, author, and theologian C.S. Lewis said, “For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” So according to Lewis, not only does our pride ruin relationships, it also rips away the very thing we are trying to attain with pride: contentment.

There are two negative types of pride: haughty pride and harmful pride. Haughty pride is being proud of the me others see or being proud of the me others see in you. This is when we make sure others are aware of our contributions. We claim credit, one-up others’ stories, interrupt often, and get upset when we aren’t noticed. I think for me, this is what I typically think of when I think of pride. This pride is easy to fall into, but when we’ve reached a point where we understand that it is wrong for us, we sometimes try a more deceptive approach to make others recognize how great we are. This is when we tuck our pride in statements that on the surface are showing pride in others but really are a way of seeking recognition for our contribution to their success. For example, it’s natural for a parent to feel pride in their kids and to even do some bragging. Just the other day, however, I was bragging up my kids to my mom, telling her how well they behaved in public, while secretly hoping she’d tell me it was only because of how well I have parented them. These types of pride may seem harmless, but they alter our thinking and encourage our self-centeredness, when we should be giving all credit to God and using our gifts only to glorify him.

 

1 Corinthians 12: 4-6
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

 

The other type of pride is harmful pride. This is when we use what someone else lacks to give ourselves significance. We say things like, “I am so proud of you; you finally found someone;” or, we let them know that they have finally discovered what we already knew. “Oh, you didn’t know that?” This can be any time where someone finally sees significance in another because they have achieved something. We, for some reason, feel that by pointing out others’ shortcomings, we are showing them how great we are and impressing them. All we’re actually doing is making them feel bad and hurting the relationship.

 

Proverbs 16:5

The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.

 

Question:

Have you ever caught yourself “praising” someone else when really you were looking for a pat on your own back?

 

What can you do to change your thinking away from self and toward others as better than yourself? Is there a specific area of your life where you struggle with this?

 

Next Step:

Think of a person or a group of people that you find yourself thinking you’re better than. Be honest with yourself. Remind yourself that God created them with just as much care as he did with you, and he loves them just as he loves you. When you find yourself feeling prideful, either as a result of your own merits or by feeling as though you’re better than others, get back to this mindset. Build a habit of recognizing these thoughts, breaking them down, and reorganizing them to glorify God instead of yourself.

 

Prayer:

Dear God, help me to be humble. Help me to recognize that all my skills and talents come from you. When I begin to feel pride, help me to refocus and give all the glory to you. Allow me to see the value in others and to put them before myself. Help me to discern the worldly advice that sounds good, but I know is not your truth. Thank you for your grace, as I know I will falter time and time again. I only hope with practice, I will build a habit of humility. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a former nurse who is now embracing her role as a stay-at-home mom. She is married and has a daughter and a son. She loves writing for this team, and feels she grows a great deal through writing and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


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1 reply
  1. Ben Snyder
    Ben Snyder says:

    Well said, Ashlee! Unhelpful Pride is sneaky and serious. And I am thankful that God graciously (and sometimes directly) helps us move towards helpful, humble pride.

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