James 4:1-6 (KJV)
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
This passage gives us a pretty good picture of why there is so much strife in the world. It tells us that these things come from ourselves. The strife does not come from any other source but from inside ourselves. The spirit of man inside of us does “lusteth to envy”. But where does this come from? The answer is simple. It comes from pride.
Certain types of pride are fine. Pride in ones appearance, pride in ones work, pride in how ones place of residence looks, and there are many more things that we can take pride in. Let’s take a quick look at each of these things.
Pride in ones appearance. Most of us fall in this category. We wash our hair, take showers, brush our teeth and so on. These are fine. We are supposed to be well groomed. We are supposed to worry about our appearance, to a certain degree. I mean especially if we are going to be taking our wives or girlfriends out for a night on the town. You don’t want to be wearing the dirtiest clothes you have. You don’t want your hair to be messy. You certainly don’t want bad breath. You are going to do what it takes to make sure you are as presentable as possible.
The problem come with pride in this area is when you start to worship yourself. You have to look in a mirror for 15 minutes every time you go by one. You continually ask if you look alright. And so on. This shows a worship of ones self.
Having pride in ones work is needed so that we can continue giving the same kind results every time. We shouldn’t be worried about someone elses work or how someone else views our work. We should take pride in what we do. Gal. 6:4 says this, “But let every man prove his own work, and then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” In other words, take pride in your work and you know that you have done a good job. This also leads to consistency. You take pride in what you do, you will strive to keep the same standards at all times.
One of the problems here is that you think that you then become indispensable. That you do such a good job that you have job security. That is not promised to any of us. Again this is a part of self worship.
Taking pride in ones home is also alright as well. We don’t want to live in a mess. We will take the time to clean up. Whether it is on the weekend or do a little each day. We want our home to be presentable when company comes over. At least the main part of the house in any case. This all goes to show that we have some pride in ourselves. This also goes to the outside. Mowing, weeding, and so on.
The problem is when we get the ruler to make sure that the grass is the same length or we get out the white gloves to make sure we get every single bit of dirt. Or use a q-tip to clean the molding. Again this tends to self worship.
Now I am not saying that those who may do these things have that overweening pride that I am talking about. This is just part of who they are.
Overweening pride on the other hand, is where the problem comes. We constantly check ourselves in a mirror when we go by them. We go overboard on the most basic of taking care of our selves. This is the type of pride that says I am better than you are. We expect to have the best because we think we are the best. We set ourselves above everyone else. This is the type of pride that says we can do no wrong.
The only problem with this is that God has some warnings about this kind of pride. Though we may want special treatment because we think that we deserve it, God does not. Rom. 2:11 says “For there is no respect of persons with God”. God hates this type of pride that says that we can do what ever and we expect to have special treatment.
In fact this type of pride is not what God expects us to have. 1 John 2:16 says that ”For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. God looks for us to have some kind of pride. Just not the overweening pride of self worship.
Theses verses tells us about this kind of pride:
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
And there are many more verses like these. Pride destroys the heart, brings shame and separates us from God. Why? God hates pride, period. We chance having others see just how selfish and self serving we truly are. We head towards destruction with pride and falling because of a haughty spirit. (Prov 16:18; 18:12)
What God expects of us is humility and humbleness. We get honour with humility. We also gain wisdom. We tend to think that we have to be better than everyone else. We think that we have to step on others to get what we want. And God keeps telling us something completely different.
Besides, when it comes to our time to be judged, we are going to be judged the same way. Rom. 14:10 says this. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” And again in 2 Cor. 5:10 we read, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.
We are going to be judged. I am not going to be rewarded by how much pride I had and how many people I stepped on to get what I wanted. I am not going to be rewarded for being rude and bossy or by making people move because they are in the spot that we want to be in right now.
We will be rewarded for all the good things we have done in Christ’s name with a right heart. By following the two great commandments, “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37-39) This should take care of the pride issue. We are to think of God and others before ourselves. God because he is our creator, friend, and redeemer, as well as many other things. Neighbors because we have to interact with them frequently and we would want to be treated favorably by others.
We are told by Paul in Romans that we are not to think of ourselves as being better than others. Rom 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” We are not to think ourselves better than those around us.
Jesus said it this way in Luke 14, “8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
We should not look for the best place to be. We may be asked to give it up for someone who better than we are. Or more honourable as it says in Luke 14:8. But to get honour we should take the spots that are not as glamorous. We may be asked to sit in a better spot. We shouldn’t seek these spots ourselves. That is for others to do. Our place in Christ almost demands it.