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Managing Our Emotions Well 3: Pride

Managing Our Emotions Well Day 3 – Pride

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7, ESV)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10, ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. (Philippians 2:3-9, ESV)

I hate interviewing for jobs. Why? I don’t want to answer the dreaded “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question. It seems simple enough but it makes my anxious mind spin. “Well, if I tell them that I think I’m good at this or that, then they may think I’m conceited” or, “If I say that I’m bad at this, then they may think I can’t do anything correctly.” Don’t even get me started on compliments. I have to fight all the negative self-speak that bombards my brain just to barely squeak out a thank you. The line between humility and pride has always been a blurry one for me, as I suspect it is with most people raised in the Christian faith. We have been told from birth that we should never be boastful or prideful. We should not speak too highly or too often about ourselves. While this is true, it has completely distorted our idea of humility. 

Conversely, we all know that as much as we may try to avoid prideful speech, we all struggle with pride. In fact, some of us are so prideful that we are too proud to admit that we struggle with it at all. I may have a hard time speaking positively about myself, but I definitely have a tendency to think a little too highly of myself, so I will not be casting the first stone when it comes to pride. Yet another side effect of being raised in a Christian environment is thinking—I am embarrassed to admit—that I’m better than other people because I don’t do this or that. Even while typing this I have to laugh, because who am I to think I could be better than someone else? I know better than anyone the sin I am capable of, so who am I to climb atop the pedestal? 

Being saved from sin does not give us the right to judge sinners. That seems so easy to understand and yet we often find ourselves puffed up with pride over what we have and have not done in the name of religion. How foolish! How quickly we forget what Christ has saved us from. We so easily overlook our shortcomings, seeing only the positive fruit from our lives, fruit that is only made possible through Him. Pause for a moment to first repent of your pride, and then praise Him for all that He has given to you and done through you. 

When I think about my inability to speak positively about myself, though, I am reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” I had always believed that to be perceived as humble I must never speak about myself positively or admit to what I am good at. After all, wouldn’t that be boastful? Well, to put it frankly, no. When asked where you excel, is it not the perfect opportunity to tell people about the gifts God has given you? Okay, maybe a job interview is not the place, but you get what I mean. It is not boastful or prideful to say that you are good at being a supportive friend if you acknowledge that ability as coming from God. True humility is when we are able to accept that God has equipped us all with different strengths and gifts that are equal in value. We are all equally important to and abundantly loved by God.

My challenge to you today is to give your pride a reality check. Remember what Christ has done for you. Remember that even the perfect Savior humbled Himself and took the place of a servant in this world. Try to think of others first, not neglecting to take care of your own needs, but remembering that others are also in need of help.

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