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  • Rick LoPresti

Pride and humility

Pride and humility are often misunderstood as defined in the Bible. We sometimes use the word pride to express a good feeling about something well done. It is natural and normal to have a sense of accomplishment when it is appropriate and as long as God is given His due honor and glory. That is not the pride the Bible condemns. That kind of pride can be defined two ways as it relates to men. The first is thinking too highly of one's self (Rom 12:3, Gal 6:3). The other is thinking of one's self as better than others (Lk 18:10-14, Jn 9:24-34). This is based on comparing one's self to others based on a false self-made standard (2Cor 10:12-13). When we compare ourselves to God's standard, pride becomes impossible (1Ki 8:46, Ecc 7:20, Rom 3:10 & 23, 1Jn 1:8-10). Pride makes self the authority and judge instead of God. Pride seeks to compare with someone "lesser" in its eyes in order to feel better about self. The only true "self esteem" is what I call "God esteem". This is the understanding of our identity in God as His beloved. God values our souls more than all the world (Mt 16:26).

Pride never compares to someone who is doing better. Pride never self-examines or finds fault with self. Pride argues and self-defends (Prov 13:10, Prov 28:25). Pride leads to a fall (Prov 16:18, Prov 29:23). It is better to humble ourselves than to be humbled. Pride refuses advice, and is self-sufficient (Ps 10:4, Oba 3, Mk 7:21-22, Gal 6:3, 1Tim 3:6, 1Tim 6:4). Pride is a cover up for fear and insecurity (Prov 11:2). Pride steals from the glory of God and gives it to man (Phil 2:6). God will judge and bring down pride (Ps 12:3, Ps 31:23, Prov 15:25, Is 2:12, Dan 4:37, Mt 23:12). Men full of pride often falsely accuse God of the thing they are guilty of. God cannot be proud because He cannot think of Himself higher than He is (Is 57:15), and He cannot be compared to anyone else (Is 40:18 & 25, Is 44:6-8, Is 45:5-22, Is 46:5 & 9). God is perfect, so He does not need to humble Himself (2Sam 22:31, Job 36:4, Job 37:16, Ps 19:7, Mt 5:48). However, because He loves us He humbled Himself to come in the flesh to be our Savior (Phil 2).

Humility is sometimes thought of as self-condemnation or self-pity, which can actually be a form of self-focused and self-absorbed pride. Humility is an honest, balanced self-evaluation as God helps us to see truly by His grace (Ps 139:23-24, Rom 8:27, Phil 3:15). It does not excuse wrong but neither harshly condemns. Humility is not based on comparing to other people. It is based on comparing ourselves to where we individually should be in our relationship with God. Humility admires the successes of others without a self-defeating sense of worthlessness or failure. Humility sees other's faults, but instead of judging prayerfully seeks to help. Humility validates the value of others while also knowing God has a purpose for us (Rom 12, 1Cor 12). Humility knows it is not self-sufficient and needs good advice (Prov 11:4, Prov 12:15, Prov 15:22, Prov 19:2, Prov 20:18, Prov 24:6).Humility does not cover up faults, but seeks help (Prov 28:13, Jam 5:16). The humble can know God will lift them up in due time (2Chr 7:14, 2Chr 34:27, Ps 9:12, Ps 138:6, Prov 15:33, Prov 18:12, Prov 22:4, Prov 29:23, Is 57:15, Mt 23:12, Jam 4:6 & 10, 1Pet 5:5-6). Humility can defer God's judgment (1Ki 21:29, 2Ki 22:19-20, 2Chr 32:36, 2Chr 33:12-13, 1Cor 11:31). God comes to the contrite and broken (Ps 34:18, Ps 51:17, Is 57:15, Is 66:2).

God raised up King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to perform His judgment on Israel and other nations. However, he began to think it was all him and not God. God sent him a warning in a dream to humble himself, but he did not. God gave him seven years of insanity until he acknowledged Him (Dan 4). This is the classic depiction of pride and humility. Pride says "I". Humility says "God". Let us learn this great eternal principle and not be like Nebuchandezzar's grandson Belshazzar who failed to learn from his grandfather (Dan 5).

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