Becoming A Healthy & Humble Human Being

A Reflection On Pride

Do you want to live a healthy and humble Christian life? Then you have the life-long assignment of dealing with your pride. Pride keeps you from seeing your pride. Though you barely recognize it in yourself, you are quick to see it in others. You know pride as the king of all sins. Yet you often fail to see how it is ruling your own heart.

Pride Experienced

How do you respond when your actions are questioned, when you are not duly recognized, when you are corrected, when you are ignored, or when someone else is honored? Do you get angry or defensive or sarcastic or pitiful? (I know this territory well!?!)

How do you respond when you’re applauded, honored, or praised? Honestly. How much of your response is grounded in pride?

John Chrysostom (349-407) writes about the sin of pride:

Nothing so estranges us from the mercy of God and gives over to the fire of hell as the tyranny of pride. If we possess this within us all our life becomes impure even if we practice chastity, virginity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, or any virtue whatsoever. Every proud man, scripture says, is an abomination to the Lord. Therefore, let us check this puffing up of the soul and let us cut out this tumor if we wish to be pure and be rid of the punishment prepared for the devil.

One of the things St. Chrysostom detested was the applause and flattery of those to whom he preached. He said:

“To me it is nothing when I am applauded and well spoken of. There is only one thing I ask of you-to prove your approval of me through your works. That is how you can speak well of me, and that is what is going to do you good. This, to me, is the greatest honor. I prefer it to a material crown. I do not desire applause and being well spoken of. I have one request to make-for you to listen to me in quiet attentiveness and to put my advice into practice. This is not a theater. You don’t sit here in order to admire actors and to applaud them. This is a place where you must learn the things of God.”

Pride Described 

Pride can be described as “a foolish and irrational sense of one’s own personal status or accomplishments.” I am wealthy…a victim…a success…a professional…a government official…a musician…a church leader…an author…a somebody. Anything can be made a matter of pride. I particularly like this definition – Pride is “disagreement with the truth.” We don’t know who we really are but dress ourselves up with labels to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. That’s pride.

I recognize that facts are facts. You are some one who does some thing. Yet, it’s your unrealistic perception of who you are and what you do that is a matter of pride.

As St. Augustine writes, pride is “the love of one’s own excellence.”

Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983), the Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during WW II and was imprisoned for her actions, illustrates one way of dealing with pride:

A few years ago, in a press conference following a ceremony in which Corrie ten Boom was given an honorary degree, one of the reporters asked her if it was difficult remaining humble while hearing so much acclaim. She replied immediately, “Young man, when Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments in the road and singing, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?”
She continued, “If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.”

You gotta’ love that – We’re less-than-attractive donkeys carrying about praise-worthy Jesus Christ! None of the accolade is for us. Let’s see ourselves for who we really are. Let’s see Jesus Christ for who He really is.

In the next post, I’ll address ways to “cut out this tumor” from the perspective of a struggling egotist.

Any thoughts so far? Share them below.

Dr. K