Last week I mentioned that I would address how pride in our interactions with one another results in trouble for all. Scripture is clear that God hates pride, arrogance, conceit, and whatever other word you can think of relating to this sin. God blesses the humble. God is pleased and glorified when we act humbly. Look at what He says here, “Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).1 When we live humbly in relation to God, it extends to our interactions with other people.
I am able to remember vividly my time in high school. I remember the cliques and the pride involved with the daily interactions. Everyone attempted to show themselves worthy of the approval of others. This resulted in people putting others down, so they could elevate or maintain their social standing (i.e. popularity). The same thing occurred during my time in junior college. But, I did notice that the “bigger the pond” the more humble you become. Bible college and Seminary also featured prideful attitudes and actions. At first this was a surprise to me but when I looked at what God’s Word says about the condition of even redeemed people, it surprised me no longer. No matter where we go we will find pride. In fact, we are carriers of it. Sin dwells within us, even as believers. We cannot escape it in this life. You will notice that I used examples of educational environments, but you will face the brunt of people’s pride at work, at home, everywhere.
Something you may not be aware of is the reality that you will experience pride in local churches. The sin of pride manifests itself in different ways. It all amounts to having an inaccurate view of God and myself. We are tempted to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Maybe the pride manifests itself in the brand-name of clothes I wear, the car I drive, the Bible translation I use, the job I work, the money I make, where I live, the kind of house I live in, the ministry I do at church, my educational background, where my kids do their schooling, how good I am at sports, how much I know, how talented my kids are, how right I am, etc… The list could be almost endless. All of these manifestations of pride grieve God and trouble others (sin should trouble others). Remember the example I gave about high school and trying to increase or maintain my social standing? Sadly, the same thing happens in churches. Why does it happen? Because sinners are present, and that includes all of us. Do social cliques exist in churches? Yes. Should they exist in churches? No! Can you be close friends with everyone and know everyone equally as well? No, it is not humanly possible, unless we have surface-level relationships with everyone (not recommended).
The book of James addresses the issue of pride. James rebukes the church for showing preferential treatment based on the financial and social standing of those in attendance (Jas. 2:1-10). In the beginning of his letter he wrote, “The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exultation, but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities” (Jas. 1:9-11). Paul says, “Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (Rom. 12:16b). Proverbs says, “Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud” (Prov. 16:19). Peter in addressing how churches should submit to the biblical leadership and teaching of their pastor/elder/overseers also calls pastors to be humble in their leadership and teaching (1 Pet. 5:5-7).
What is the point? Frequently we give in to the temptation of pride in our interactions with others. We don’t attempt to include them or get to know them. Maybe we talk down to them and “put them in their place,” for the purpose of maintaining our own standing. Maybe we are a part of a clique, even in church (it happens!). God desires for us to include others who are not in the “popular” crowd. If that person who isn’t in the “in-crowd” is a believer in and follower of Christ, he is a brother or she is a sister in Christ. If the person isn’t a believer then he or she needs to see and hear about the love of Christ. Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” but all of us need reminders at times, including me.
Maybe we need to pray as David did, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 141:23-24). God may reveal to us how we have acted pridefully in how we have treated others. If He does so, then we need to confess it to Him (1 John 1:9), and apologize to those we have sinned against (Matt. 5:23-24). Maybe God will reveal that we need to include others more and get to know them. I don’t know what God will reveal to us. But, I do pray that all believers and those who are seeking spiritually will be treated the same no matter what clothes they wear, how much money they make, where they live, where they went to school, where/how they choose to educate their children, what Bible translation they use, what car they drive, etc… I am speaking of non-biblical, non-sinful actions or choices. Now, if the actions are unbiblical, then it is sinful and wrong. It is not okay for us as Christians to approve of sin.
Next week in this series on troubles we experience as Christians, I am going to share with you how Christ saving Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freemen, men and women, could have been caustic and disastrous (from a human perspective). Christ has chosen to redeem people who did not always mix well with one another socially or culturally. Yet, He has done so by His grace and magnificent power to glorify Himself (Eph. 3:8-11; Gal. 3:27-29).
1Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, HCSB®, and Holman CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).