Respectable Sins: 4 Manifestations of Pride | Part 3

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 [1].

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 [2]. 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'”[3]. God is the one who has given that person the “entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen that enabled” them to succeed [4]. 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).

Looking Forward

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

  1. Are you susceptible to this form of pride?
  2. What do you believe God has endowed you with so that you can accomplish all that you have accomplished in life?
  3. What or who do we often believe gets us our achievements?
  4. How might it affect our lives and relationship with God if we rid the pride of achievements from our life?

Resource

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 9394.
[2] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 94.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 93-96

Respectable Sins: 4 Manifestations of Pride | Part 2

In my last post in this series, I discussed the pride of moral self-righteousness. Today, I continue my discussion by focusing on the pride of correct doctrine.

The Pride of Correct Doctrine

This sin manifests itself when we think our belief system is superior to others. It often occurs in those who are theologically minded, or even in someone who believes doctrinal distinctions are erroneous or unnecessary. Personally, being theologically minded and having attended seminary, I struggle most with this form of pride.

What does Scripture have to say?

Scripture is not silent when it comes to the pride of correct doctrine. In 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul addresses this form of pride, when he writes,

 “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

In this verse, Paul does not disagree with their knowledge. He too believes that idols are nothing and that eating meat offered to idols is permissible. What he disagrees with is the pride associated with their knowledge.

Apparently, some in the church in Corinth had become puffed up because they thought themselves doctrinally superior to the other church members, since they realized food offered to idols was not wrong to eat.

Paul tells them that their knowledge is not to puff them up, but it is to cause them to act in love. Knowing that others will stumble when they eat meat offered to idols, should result in them limiting their eating of it to certain times and places; times and places when and where their weaker brothers are absent. In doing so, they would be acting out of love and not pride.

However, if they chose to partake when their weaker brother was present, they would not only cause them to stumble, but they would be acting out of pride. Since they would be touting their knowledge of correct doctrine.

How do we guard against this form of pride?

First, by treating others with respect. Realizing that many godly men and capable scholars hold differing beliefs than we do for good reasons. We should not down them, as if they are stupid, ignorant, or less intelligent. Rather, we should disagree with the system to which they hold, while still respecting them and their abilities.

Second, by being humble about our beliefs. So what if we have it right? Being doctrinally correct does not make us better than someone else.

Looking Forward

In my next installment in this series, I will focus on the pride of achievements. Until then, reflect on this post through the questions below.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you susceptible to this form of pride?
  2. What belief systems might we believe are better than others?
  3. Has God convicted you of this sin in the past? If so, how did you deal with it?
  4. How might it affect our church if we rid the pride of correct doctrine from our church?

Resource

Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 89-100

Respectable Sins: 4 Manifestations of Pride | Part 1

This week we are going to discuss pride. To be more specific, I are going to dig a little deeper and look at certain expressions of pride that believers are easily susceptible to committing.

The expressions of pride I will focus on will be:

  1. The pride of moral self-righteousness
  2. The pride of correct doctrine
  3. The pride of achievement
  4. The pride of an independent spirit

In what follows, I will discuss how each of these manifests itself in our lives, what Scripture has to say, and how we can rid this sin from our lives.

Let’s start today by looking at the pride of moral self-righteousness.

The Pride of Moral Self-Righteousness

In Luke 18:11-12 Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee who went down to the temple to pray. A tax collector went down at the same time he did. As the Pharisee stood before God, and next to the tax collecter, he prayed like this:

‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’” (Luke 18:11–12, ESV)

The Pharisees’ prayer shows he thought himself to be morally superior to the tax collector. When reflecting on this prayer and Jesus’ teaching afterwards, we learn that anyone who believes they hold a moral high ground, whether that be in their spiritual life, or in politics, economics, or environmental policy are committing the sin of moral self-righteousness.

Why is Moral Self-Righteousness a common form of pride?

Amongst Bible believing evangelicals moral self-righteousness is a common form of pride. That is because it is easy to indulge in this sin when reflecting on the moral climate in our society. When we look around and see others either “committing or condoning such flagrant sins as immorality, easy divorce, a homosexual lifestyle, abortion, drunkenness, drug use, avarice, and other flagrant and scandalous sins,” which are sins we don’t commit, we tend to feel morally superior to them [1].

How do we guard against this form of pride?

First, by realizing none of us are naturally morally upright (Ps. 51:5). If it were not for God working in our lives, then we very well likely could be in the same or even worse place as the drug dealer on the other side of the tracks. Knowing that should lead us to have the attitude that:

There but for the grace of God go I.”

Second, we can guard against this sin by identifying ourselves before God with the sinful society in which we live. Ezra did just this and so should we. In Ezra 9:6 we read,

saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6, ESV)

Did you notice that Ezra said, “our iniquities” and “our guilt”? Even though he was one who feared the Lord and sought to please Him with his actions, he still identified with his societies sins. He identified with their sins because he believed himself to be apart of his society. As a member of the nation of Israel, he felt he was just as guilty.

So then, instead of setting ourselves apart from our society, if we include ourselves in it, we will be hesitant to think ourselves morally superior to everyone else.

Looking Forward

In my next installment in this series, I will focus on the pride of correct doctrine. Until then, reflect on this post through the questions below.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What principle can we learn from the Pharisee? Are there other areas of life besides spiritual life that we can become morally self-righteous about?
  2. Why do you believe Moral Self-righteousness is a common sin amongst Bible believing evangelicals?
  3. Has God convicted you of this sin in the past? If so, how did you deal with it?

Resource

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 90.

Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 89-100.