Last week I shared in my blog a dream of mine to be a great evangelist for Christ. It was a dream that was not rooted in a calling, but out of pride and fame. And I shared how God has shown me with time that I am not an evangelist – that it is not my gifting. And though the realization was somewhat painful because God was removing my pride, it was what was needed to bring me back to earth – it was needed to help me see my actual gifting.
How about you? You ever had a time in your life where pride got the better of you?
A time where God had to get your attention, maybe through drastic actions, to help you realize you were living for self and not God?
Pride, especially when it infiltrates my faith, becomes an attitude that says, “I am spiritually better than you.” And this attitude was evident in the parable Jesus told about a Pharisee and a Tax Collector.
The parable Jesus told in Luke 18: 9-14 reminds us how easy it is to fall into the trap of pride, especially when we begin to compare our righteousness with someone else’s.
And I have heard it said before and at times have felt it in my soul, “God, look at all I am doing for you. Why aren’t others doing as much for you as I am doing? If they really loved you like I do, they would.”
And if this is our prayer, it doesn’t resonate with the Spirit of God, but rather with a spirit of pride and self.
So Jesus teaches us that in order for us to avoid pride and self-righteousness, to be humble, we have to check our attitude daily.
And this is what we want to look at specifically today.
As I wrote last week, we need to check our attitude; for whatever attitude we have for the day will affect others and our relationship with God. Our attitude for the day is like a virus that spreads its joy to all around it – if you get what I meanJ
Jesus said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’”
The Pharisee in this story had an attitude of self-righteousness and pride – “Look at me God.” He was very arrogant and boastful of his goodness and following the Law.
You could almost hear the Pharisee singing, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.”
But now let’s look at ourselves. How can I know when pride is evident in my life?
Well, there are 3 characteristics Jesus shows us in the Pharisee that God will know and others will see in me when pride is evident.
Characteristic 1: Pride loves to talk about self
You ever been around someone who always talks about himself/herself? How does that affect you? Does it make you feel like you and your opinion aren’t valued? Think about how that also affects God.
The Pharisee was saying, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at how good I am, Lord.” Because he only wanted to talk about himself in the presence of God, God was not valued and could not speak to him, even if God tried.
Characteristic 2: Pride seldom admits a need
People who have pride are too afraid or are not willing to mention they need help, help for physical, emotional, and especially spiritual needs. After all, they just got done telling others how wonderful and great they are. They can’t give anyone the impression that they don’t have it all together. They can’t let anyone see them sweat.
The Pharisee was saying, “God, I’ve got it all together. I don’t sin like others do. I do what I am supposed to do. Just wanted you to know that I’m good. I don’t need anything from you.” Because of his pride he wasn’t asking God to help him with any of his needs, instead he could only hear what was in his heart – that he was good. And even if God did try to speak into his life, he wouldn’t have heard it because he was too high on himself.
Characteristic 3: Pride sees the faults of others
People who have pride point the finger at others. They compare themselves to others who seem to be weaker so that they can claim to be more righteous. They see the speck of dust in their brother’s eye, but fail to see the log in their own (Matthew 7:3)
The Pharisee was saying, “God, I’m not a sinner. I don’t steal. I don’t do all the other things you have said are evil. I don’t cheat on my wife. And God, I’m not a traitor like this Jew over here that collects taxes for the evil Roman government.” Because he could only see the faults of everyone around him, he could not even see that his attitude about others was wrong.
Comparing myself to others so that I can place myself in a position of authority is a sure sign that pride is evident in my life.
Let me share with you a little joke that relates to this third point: A man came home from work one day and discovered a monkey in the house. So he found his wife and asked her, “Where did the monkey come from?” She replied, “It was just so cute I just had to have it, so I bought it.” The man was furious about sharing the house with a monkey so he said, “Where will the monkey sleep?” “In our bed with us,” said the wife. “But what about the odor?” asked the husband. The wife said, “Well, I got used to you, I guess the monkey can too.”
The point is this: Before you point out the faults of others, before you look to criticize, you better take a good look at yourself. Maybe it’s not the monkey that stinks, it’s youJ
Sometimes churches take on the attitude of the Pharisee. Listen to this story, called The Blood. Notice how the perfect people of this church were so ready to administer judgment according to their righteousness.
One night in a church service a young woman felt the tug of God at her heart. She responded to God’s call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The young woman had a very rough past, involving alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. But the change in her was evident. As time went on she became a faithful member of the church. She eventually became involved in the ministry, teaching young children. It was not very long until this faithful young woman had caught the eye and heart of the pastor’s son. The relationship grew and they began to make wedding plans. This is when the problems began. You see, about one half of the church did not think that a woman with a past such as hers was suitable for a pastor’s son. The church began to fight and argue about the matter. So they decided to have a meeting. As the people made their arguments, the tension increased, and the meeting was getting completely out of hand. The young woman became very upset about all the things being brought up about her past. As she began to cry the pastor’s son stood to speak. He could not bear the pain it was causing his wife-to-be. He began to speak and his statement was this: “My fiancée’s past is not what is on trial her. What you are questioning is the ability of the blood of Jesus to wash away sin. Today you have put the blood of Jesus on trial. So does it wash away sin or not?” The whole church began to weep as they realized that they had been slandering the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Too often, even as Christians, we bring up the past and use it as a weapon. We use it against our loved ones, our friends, and even against our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet we forget that forgiveness is a foundational part of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But always remember this about pride – about self-righteousness: If the blood of Jesus does not cleanse the other person completely, then it cannot cleanse you and me completely, either. And if that’s the case, then we are all in a lot of trouble.
Remember the hymn? What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! END OF CASE
When our pride tempts us to point fingers at others for their faults – faults that have been repented of and confessed before God almighty – we are merely saying to Jesus, “Your sacrifice meant nothing and it has no power to change.”
In closing, pride is an attitude. It’s an attitude that I must keep in check because it can show its ugly head at any time. And I do it by analyzing myself: Am I always talking about myself and how great I am? Am I never asking for help because I fear asking or feel I don’t need the help? Am I finding fault with others?
If I’m answering “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s a sure sign that pride is evident in my life. Thank God the Holy Spirit can take pride when caught and turn it into humility. I just have to be willing to admit, “yes” to the questions.