Where I live, oak trees produce male flowers called catkins around the end of April. They rain yellow pollen everywhere. They torment allergy sufferers. Eventually, the catkins fall and coat the ground and everything else with excellent dam-building material.
Recently they packed into and blocked the drain channel of my 45-year-old flat-bottom boat. Heavy rain caused hundreds of pounds of water to back up in the boat behind a catkin plug. Less than an ounce of intertwined catkins in the drain channel completely blocked it.
Because I have at times forgotten to remove these catkins, enough water accumulated in the boat to flip the trailer backward. Mosquitos multiplied in the stagnant water. Its stench assaulted my nose.
Pride is like that intertwined bundle of catkins. It punches way above its weight. Its negative impact is far-reaching. It clogs our lives and makes them repulsive to God and others (James 4:6).
Amazingly, the proud can’t detect their own skunk-like odor. Meanwhile, everyone else distances themselves from it. How ironic that less than an ounce of others’ pride offends us while we can’t detect pounds of our own.
If we are alive, we can assume we have a liver, even though we can’t see it. If we are alive, we can assume pride is a problem, even if we can’t see it.
So, what does this pride look like? Here are some pride-revealing behaviors:
1. Without confidence in Christ’s enabling sufficiency (Philippians 4:13), pride tries to prove worthiness through personal accomplishments.
2. Pride confuses personal accomplishments and personal value. The truth is that everyone is already valuable to God, whose estimation alone matters (Matthew 6:26).
3. Pride builds self-esteem on some personal definition of success that isn’t God-honoring or God-centered. It reacts fearfully and angrily when others attack that “success.” It defensively resists confessing mistakes or apologizing. That jeopardizes the possibility of forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
4. Pride compares itself with others. It puts them down instead of valuing them more than self (Philippians 2:3–4). It tries to dominate them. It treats them as enemies instead of loving them (Matthew 22:37–39). It compulsively tries to do things better than others and takes all the credit for “successes” (2 Chronicles 32:25). Hezekiah didn’t respond gratefully to God’s kindness and the successes He provided. We often don’t either.
5. Pride boasts about and makes mountains of the molehills of personal achievements. These “accomplishments” are unconnected to God’s agenda for life (Ephesians 2:10). They amount to nothing because they were not performed depending on Jesus’s strength (John 15:5) for God’s glory (Matthew 5:16) to bear spiritual fruit that will last (John 15:16).
6. Proud people try to control others, assuming their own superiority and unique ability to do things “right,” whereas Jesus came to serve and make sacrifices for others (Matthew 20:28).
To my shame, I can recall times in my life that illustrate all of these six points. Perhaps you can do the same in your life. How can we surgically remove pride daily to prevent its relationship-battering effects? We must see life realistically, not with an unrenewed mind through the blurring glasses of pride (Romans 12:2).
The reality is that we have never accomplished anything noteworthy without the help of God and others. Nothing. “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NIV).
God’s gifts undergird our accomplishments. We breathe His air. We drink His water. We eat the food He alone can make grow. He has given us life, unique gifts, and abilities to spend for His glory. We will have to give Him an account of how we used them. That, not our “accomplishments” should be the primary focus of our lives. All of life is preparing for that final exam. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV).
Our “accomplishments” are the result of the input of our parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, teachers, spiritual leaders, co-workers, etc. To take personal credit for anything we have accomplished is like a mosquito riding on an elephant’s back taking credit for rocking a bridge.
Gratitude’s audible partner is thanksgiving. Together, they are the drainplug of our pride. Let’s daily give thanks to God and others. Let’s gush gratitude and thanksgiving. Let’s give God and others the credit they deserve. As we do this as a way of life, the plug of pride won’t clog our lives and make them a stench to God and others. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at https://www.christiangrowthresources.com
God has equipped and empowered me to write His Power for Your Weakness—260 Steps Toward Spiritual Strength. It’s a free devotional discipleship resource. Pastors have used it in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia to teach the basics of Christianity to 1,839 people to date. I invite you to check it out. https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/his-power-for-your-weakness