Pride: The Spiritual Pimple

Pride is such an ugly blemish to wear on the heart. It detracts from what might otherwise be a beautifully humble, spiritual complexion. And who would know better than someone suffering from this particular sort of spiritual acne? Exactly. Thus, I am compelled to share.

Have you ever just known you were right? Everyone is just blabbering away and you’re rolling your eyes thinking, “Oh, come on! It’s so obvious!” You finally decide (for their own good, of course) to help them by revealing the error of their ways and you are met with less than enthusiasm, maybe even a snarl or a “Did I ask you?” look. 

“Good grief!” you think, “I was just trying to help!” But you are met with unsympathetic eyes only. What’s up with that?

Well, unfortunately, the frequent occurrence of this scenario might have something to do with a zit or two on a certain area of your spiritual life. Maybe you are right. Maybe the batteries don’t go in that way or maybe the color really is heliotrope and not lilac but what’s your goal? 

You may think, “I’m just trying to help” or “I just want things to be done right.” But here are the problems in that reasoning: you assume what kind of “help” a person needs and that there is only one way to “skin a cat.” I know. I burst my own bubble too.

The first rule of humility is this: Don’t assume you know everything. Sounds like it should be obvious doesn’t it? “Of course I don’t think I know everything!” Yeah, well, don’t even assume you know anywhere close, especially if you’ve never asked a humble question like: “How would you like me to help you?” or “How can I show you I love you?” 

People are not cookie cutouts; they are as rare and unique as one sunset is from another. You cannot treat them all alike and expect a positive result. Take the time and effort to find out what the people you care about need. The self-sacrifice in giving up what you think someone needs to give them something they really do need is what love is all about.

1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it does not envy, it is not proud.”

I must reiterate: pride is ugly. Nothing is worse than a self-righteous person. Of all the sinners, Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees, and they actually kept the law. They had knowledge, they had status, they had authority and they had the ugliest hearts of all. Not because status, knowledge or authority is bad, but because of their pride. Their spiritual acne disfigured what could have been God-glorifying, righteous acts. So instead of glorifying God, they brought disgrace to His name because of their haughty eyes and upturned noses.

Humility does not mean playing the victim. It does not mean wallowing in self-pity. You are as uniquely cherished as I am. You were bought at the same price as me and grace was extended to the both of us while we were both still sinners. 

Neither of us has the ability to earn salvation. My talents and gifts are not yours but they are of no less value.

I don’t mean to suggest being proud of your little brother or an accomplishment is a sin but I do think cherishing and appreciating people while giving thanks and praise to God for blessings and accomplishments is a more positive and productive thought pattern. The former may not necessarily produce bad fruits (although it does frequently) but the latter will definitely produce good fruits.

Really, the road to recovery from pride-induced acne starts much like Alcoholics Anonymous’ does. Get out of denial. You know, Peter was a great guy. He wrote a lot of wonderful things in the New Testament and did a lot of good works but he was in denial at one point. The very night before Christ began the long road to death, Peter swore he was above the rest.

John 13:37-38, “Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!’”

Not only did Peter refrain from laying down his life for his Lord, he denied even knowing Him not once but three times. He was proven wrong, to say the least. And he cried bitterly when he realized his own failure. 

You don’t want to be proved wrong. It is a bitter, painful truth to first deny your frailty and then be shown so clearly your lack. It is better to start off with reality. Be humble; it will save you and your loved ones much pain. And if humility is as hard for you as it is me, try to wrap your mind around placing your fingers into the holes in the hands and side of He who suffered because of your sin. Then see if the terms “arrogant,” “cocky,” and “know-it-all” sound as casual or harmless as they once did. They no longer do to me. 

Jesus, a man without flaw or blemish, laid down and took what He did not have to, what He did not deserve. He patiently listened to the foolishness of men and lovingly tried to impart the wisdom of God. And Jesus washed dirty, dusty feet and said, “You do likewise.” 

Elizabeth Puckett
Excerpted from More Than That,  May 2005