You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pride goes before a fall.” You may or may not know that it comes from Proverbs 16:18. Many of us are taught that one-liner while we are young, and as adults we find ourselves repeating it to our children. But how do we keep pride from creeping into our lives?
It’s fairly easy to spot prideful people around us, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s the cocky tilt of their head or something in their stance; maybe it’s statements they make or their tone of voice. Those things can be really obvious to others. Not only is it noticeable, but it’s also distasteful. Who wants to be around people who think they are better and look down on the rest of us?
And yet, if we are truly honest with ourselves, doesn’t that word sometimes apply to us as well?
We were discussing pride in our family devotional time last night, and I asked my kids what pride looks like, and what humility looks like. Pride, obviously, is thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. But I think sometimes we view humility as seeing ourselves at the bottom, and everyone else as better than we are. That sounds like a recipe for depression! What a discouraging way to view things.
God created each of us unique, and He gave us talents and abilities that are different from those around us. That’s not a bad thing. It’s reality, and it’s okay. And honestly, I’m thankful for that. What a wonderfully amazing world we live in! I couldn’t imagine life without the artistic abilities of musicians and painters, the scientific reasoning of engineers and architects, and the compassion of counselors and pastors. I could go on and on because each person’s talents play an important role in the fabric of our society.
The Difference Between Pride and Humility
Ultimately the issue of pride and humility comes down to a matter of focus. Pride is self-focused, whether positively or negatively. If I feel I am better, and I look down on others because they can’t do “x” as well as I can, then I am being prideful. Conversely, if I feel like I am no good at anything, poor me, my focus is still all about me.
A humble heart, however, is others-focused. Rather than worrying about how I compare with those around me, humility focuses on them. How can I encourage this person? What do they need? How can I be God’s hands and feet to those around me? Not so that I can collect recognition or accolades, but just to serve.Ultimately the issue of pride and humility comes down to a matter of focus. Click To Tweet
I like the way The Message paraphrases Philippians 2:3, “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”
In all honesty, that’s not always easy to do. Without thinking, we find ourselves comparing ourselves, our decisions, our actions, our words, our children (you get the idea…) with those around us. Instead of focusing on helping others get ahead, we rank ourselves with them to see how we measure up. Whether we come out ahead or behind, our focus is in the wrong place.
Wisdom to Know the Difference
Last week we were talking about wisdom (How to Know Which Way to Go–With Confidence!), and I thought it was interesting that pride and humility play a role in the acquisition of wisdom. God generously grants wisdom to those who ask, according to James 1:5. But apparently, pride interferes.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2, NIV)
My prayer today is that we will be mindful of putting ourselves aside and helping others get ahead. Will you join me in being others-focused?