Pride is such an interesting trait. In its positive form, it manifests itself as a necessary feeling of accomplishment that builds self-esteem and nurtures confidence. In its negative form, it embodies an unattractive sense of arrogance and haughtiness that no one seems to enjoy. It’s pride in the latter form that I want to discuss today.
Pride, in its negative appearance, is probably best examined by looking at its opposite…self-control. Where pride and our desire to serve ourselves try to override the commands of God, self-control seeks to do what’s in our best interest according to God’s will for our lives. Read with me this admonition from the Bible:
“11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”
The grace of God is a mighty thing indeed! It not only brings us salvation, but it also assists us in living self-controlled lives in the sight of God. Our fleshly, sinful nature usually seeks to serve itself first. We can even serve ourselves to the point of self-destruction, introducing things into our lives that can put us in danger both physically and spiritually. It’s our fleshly selves that separate us from God through the sin we partake in. We can be inherently good but not good enough, consistently enough, to stay away from this prideful behavior. It’s only with God’s help that we can distance ourselves from pride and live upright, godly lives.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
The very scary truth is that Satan is out there every day waging war against our hearts, trying to convince us to live according to the flesh. To love the world and its fleshly desires is actually showing hatred towards God (1 John 2:15-16). It’s the epitome of pride to allow the temporal passions of our flesh and of this world to distract us from God. But we do, and we do it all the time. We are set free from prideful living when we walk according to the Spirit. All the more reason why we must seek the fruit of self-control.
“16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
A great way of looking at this idea of self-control is to really think of it as “God-control.” The more God is in control of us and the more submitted we are to him and his will, the less we tend to mess up and succumb to the temptations of sin. Self-control is also about being disciplined enough to practice healthy spiritual activities such as prayer, worship, giving, encouraging, love, and forgiveness. When we bring ourselves closer to God and others in these ways, we can’t help but depart from prideful behavior.
Remember to always remind yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). This promise will undoubtedly apply to a life of self-control.