In my last post in this series, I discussed the pride of correct doctrine. Today, I continue my discussion by focusing on the pride of achievement.
The Pride of Achievement
Let me say upfront, I believe it is okay to take pleasure in and enjoy our accomplishments. Where I believe we become prideful in our achievements is when we believe that we are the ones who got ourselves there, or when we believe we are better than others because of our place in life. In other words,
Pride in our achievements is having too high of an opinion of ourselves and not realizing we have accomplished what we have accomplished because of God’s work in our lives.
While Scripture is replete with references to a “cause-and-effect relationship between hard work and success in any endeavor” (Prov. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Cor. 9:26-27; Phil. 3:12-14), Scripture also tells us that all our talents and natural skills, intellect, health, and opportunities come from God, so that nothing happens outside of God’s sovereign control and will .
Several verses come to mind to back up that claim. Some of which are: 1 Samuel 2:7; Psalm 75:6-7; Haggai 1:5-6.
1 Samuel 2:7-8 reads,
“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.”
Psalm 75:6-7 reads,
“For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.”
Haggai 1:5-6 reads,
“Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
So then, we see that “we have nothing that will enable us to achieve success that we did not receive from God”, because there is nothing that we have that did not come from God since He is the all sovereign Ruler of the universe . Granted, from a human perspective, it does not always seem that God has given us everything we have. Rather, it seems that we have what we have because of our hard work.
However, when we look at Scripture we see that our work ethic, intellect, abilities and talents, as well as our opportunities are all given to us by God. Jerry Bridges, commenting on this idea, says, “There is no such thing as a ‘self-made man’ – that is the man (or woman) who has ‘pulled himself up by his own boot straps’”. God is the one who has given that person the “entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen that enabled” them to succeed . Paul confirms this when he writes in 1 Corinthians 4:6-7,
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
So we see that we have no reason to be puffed up, God is the one who gives us everything that we have.
How do we guard against this form of pride?
First, we need to realize that when we accomplish anything, we have only done our duty. In Luke 17:10, Jesus says,
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”
Second, all our recognition comes from God, no matter the source. He is the One who causes others to recognize us, and He is the One who causes others to compliment us (Ps. 75:6-7).
In my next installment in this series, I will focus on the pride of an independent spirit. Until then, reflect on this post through the questions below.
Questions for Reflection
- Are you susceptible to this form of pride?
- What do you believe God has endowed you with so that you can accomplish all that you have accomplished in life?
- What or who do we often believe gets us our achievements?
- How might it affect our lives and relationship with God if we rid the pride of achievements from our life?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 93-94.
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 94.
Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 93-96