In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul charges his protégé, Timothy, to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” We desire to make our Father proud. We crave His approval. But when this good desire gets misplaced, we instead puff ourselves up or fold ourselves away, looking sideways to how others think of us, afraid of appearing incapable, insufficient, and insignificant.
the destructive force of pride
This is the heart of pride. It breeds worry and division and ends in the thing it fears most—disgrace. Proverbs 11:2 warns, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace.” Pride focuses on self, either thinking too much of yourself or too little. It robs others of your gifts because you either use them for selfish ambition or don’t use them at all for fear of what others may think. Both sides worry about disgrace—disgrace because you’re not noticed the way you think you should be or concern that being noticed at all might bring disgrace.
Pride also destroys relationships and communities. In Proverbs 13:10, the author tells us, “By insolence comes nothing but strife.” Pride has torn apart families, churches, friendships, and cities when people become entrenched and refuse to listen to one another.
Pride’s desire for honor either barrels over others or shuts others away.
the strength of the humble
Proverbs offers a way of another path, the way of wisdom and humbleness. Proverbs 15:33 shows us the way out of pride—a willingness to learn. The proud thinks she knows best and has no need for instruction or advice, but the humble understands the need for instruction from God and others. The proud needs to be recognized as right. The humble desires to find what is right. Humility is a position of learning from God, others, and your own experiences, including mistakes. It seeks learning and finds something deeper—wisdom.
To “fear the Lord” means to have a proper understanding of who God is and who we are in relationship to God: made and redeemed by God. It conditions us to be in the proper position of trusting, obeying, serving, and worshiping God rather than self. In other words, the humble woman is too busy looking at God to care who else is noticing. When we exercise the muscle of humility, we can recognize that we all have gifts, that they’ve been given by God, and that they’ve been given for a purpose—to build up the church, a job that requires each member of God’s church to work together. Humility lives in responsible relationship with others, using gifts properly to help each other, and listening to God and others for instruction in how to use those gifts.
How do you most struggle with pride: the need to be right; the desire to be recognized as important, talented, or insightful; or the fear of practicing your gifts? How has this hurt someone in your life in the past? How has it kept you from using your gifts properly? What can you learn from this? Pray that God will keep you focused on His glory, knowing that you, along with the whole body of Christ, share in that glory.
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