One of the most significant problems facing the Christian life today is that of pride. This stigma is something that, not only hinders connecting with others, but that ultimately puts a barrier between us and God as well as our growth in Him. In order to connect and grow, one must be vulnerable and open to others and the changing environment around and within themselves, otherwise relationships will die and growth will be inhibited. Scripture mentions the issue of pride several times as a spiritual disease and something that God Himself despises.
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”proverbs 8:13 nkjv
The word for pride in Hebrew is, “ga’own” which means arrogancy, pomp, proud, to be swelled up. Pride can be found in many different areas of life, and yet one of the primary places it is found is that of knowledge. Gathering knowledge is seen as a noble thing to do when utilized properly, but as soon as we find ourselves using it as a means in which we can lord it over people, we have then altered the nobility of the accumulation of knowledge into a tyrannical form of supremacy.
A person does not have to look too far to witness such alterations and manipulation occur as it has now become an epidemic with the rise of information and data swarming all around us. Even those that do not search out knowledge have gotten to the point of tyranny with the idea nestled deep within their being that no matter what, they are always correct especially if they have some bit of information stored away even if it is outdated and irrelevant.
This type of pride is what really hinders us from connecting and growing, but is also what causes us to never admit were wrong or apologize and in turn input a loveless attitude within our hearts. With pride comes control and as soon as someone proves the “swelled” individual wrong or catches them in the act of ignorance and sin, they then feel the anxiety of chaos overwhelm them and from there they tend to go on the defensive, and many times retreat into their fortress of solitude until they can conjure up enough data to ultimate defeat their justified accusers in an act of humiliation. If they are unable to gather the data then the last retreat is to shun the accuser and excommunicate them from mutual community of friends and family by gossip and betrayal.
We see this personality type predominately in narcissistic individuals where the “self” is amplified in their life above all others. This personality trait, sadly enough, has risen to new levels over the years with studies showing that people are more narcissistic than ever before, an unfortunate result of technological advancements, increase of luxuries and the rise of the radical left’s introduction of the self-empowerment ideology into western culture and society in the 1970’s. Of course, this was foreseen by Paul when writing about the characteristics of people during the last days in the book of 2 Timothy.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blashpemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”2 Timothy 3:1-5 nkjv
What we are witnessing today is what Paul prophesied approximately 2,000 years ago. Never before in the history of humankind have we witnessed such radical ideological propositions spawning up and drastically impacting society as we see it today. People are more focused on the self and self-promotion like never before due primarily to the drastic rise of the self-empowerment movement along with the introduction of social media outlets where the term “selfie” is actually deemed as a legitimately good thing. Even the church, leaders within and Christians amass have been deceived into the idea that selfies are alright and that posing half naked somehow glorifies God.
Now, how does all of this link together? Before really compiling everything together, there is one more thing we must look at to get a better idea of pride and its deterioration on the individual and society and culture as a whole. The story of Lucifer and his fall, I believe, sums up the idea of narcissism and pride as one of the ultimate eradicators of one’s spiritual life.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'”Isaiah 14:12-14 nkjv
In this passage we get a glimpse into the demise of Lucifer where he thought within his heart that he was the best and that he could exalt himself over all things, including the Most High Himself. This same type of thought process is deeply integrated within our society and culture with the idea of self-empowerment. Now, I am proposing the idea that one should not be empowered, but that the empowerment should not come from the self, and instead from God. When self is elevated, the fall is soon to follow.
Looking at the previous passage closely we can see where the idea of self-exaltation stemmed from, and that is the heart. Jesus touched on this issue when responding to the Pharisees in regards to His disciples not washing their hands and the idea of defilement:
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”matthew 15:18-20 nkjv
The heart is where most of all of our issues of sin stem from, although some of the temptations come from outside, it is the flesh enticed heart that ultimate persuades us. Lucifer fell due to his own magnificence and self glory which blinded him from where his magnificence truly comes from, that is God. This thought ultimately lifted him up in pride which led him to fall from the very presence of God.
One way we can interpret this idea in our modern world and with a focus on our self’s is that out of our hearts and minds can come different ideas that can ultimately lead us to glorify ourselves which causes us to fall away from the very presence of God dwelling within our lives, the source from which all things come from. The way in which we can keep ourselves from becoming self-centered and prideful is by continuously watching ourselves, being conscientious. This idea is echoed within the book of first Peter:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”1 peter 5:8 nkjv
Interpreted and applied in a more modern sense, “Be conscientious, because your flesh and the radical ideologies of the world are set out to overtake you and cause you too fall.” We are human and we are frail, and thus we should always be aware of our actions, making sure they line up with the Word of God. No matter how much knowledge we acquire, how many degrees we obtain, we must always remain humble and always give glory to the source in which the knowledge and life itself comes from, that is God.
“That, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'”1 Corinthians 1:31 nkjv
The more we recognize how lost and confused we are without God, the more we will walk humbly before Him. Pride itself stems from the heart, from the flesh, and from there it seeks to elevate itself which in turn hinders relationships and personal, spiritual growth, all while causing us to become tyrannical towards others, all of which cause us to become dead spiritually inside with love residing far from us. Stand firm in truth, love and selflessness while remaining strong in the Lord and shining forth His light to the lost world around us. God bless!