Tuesday, 01 July 2014 08:18

Pride vs. Humility

Written by  Candy Arrington
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On the night Steven proposed to Hannah, she immediately took several pictures of the two of them, her left hand prominently displayed on his shoulder. Within moments, she posted the pictures on several social networking sites. When Hannah got home, her parents knew she was engaged, not because she had called them, but because one of their friends had seen her post and called with congratulations.


When Mrs. Stockton landed a solo in the upcoming community chorus concert, she took a picture of her name on the audition results list and posted it on Facebook. She wanted to make sure certain people—those who suggested she was wasting her time trying for a solo—got the full impact of her accomplishment as soon as possible.


In today’s world, it’s more difficult than ever to practice humility. Most of us live out every facet of our lives on social media—tweeting, posting photos, expressing frustration or anger, searching for sympathy, or bragging about successes. While Scripture stresses the concept of humility, human nature and social networking lure us to broadcast our every activity, thought, and feeling, along with accompanying pictures. Adding names to our list of “friends” gives us an ego boost. Although these people are often strangers, knowing so many are following the details of our lives gives us a sense of importance and pride.



What is humility?

Humility is an elusive quality, one best described as the opposite of pride. Humility is something you really can’t tell anyone you’re working to cultivate in yourself without sounding like you’re bragging. Striving for humility is something you keep to yourself—an agreement between you and God. You become aware of the need to be morehumble, work toward it, and listen for the Holy Spirit to assess your progress. Cultivating humility is a humbling process, one that many of us aren’t willing to submit to because it involves putting ourselves under a microscope and discovering things we’d rather not see.


So why work on humility when it doesn’t seem to be a priority for anyone else?


Jesus modeled humility

Jesus had the right and the authority to flaunt his status, his identity as the Son of God, while in human form here on earth. Yet he didn’t. Instead, he cautioned his followers not to tell others who he was and often slipped away from the crowds who viewed him as a sort of celebrity. How different our attitudes! We bask in attention and recognition and take full advantage of highlighting our own accomplishments. But humility mirrors Jesus’ character and our goal should be to be more like Him.


Scripture teaches humility

It’s a constant struggle to fight against pride and work toward humility, but Scripture teaches there are consequences for those who are proud and benefits for those who are humble. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:5-6). “Though the Lord is exalted, he takes note of the lowly [humble], and recognizes the proud from far away” (Psalm 138:6 NET).


Humility shifts our focus

It’s part of our nature as humans and sinners to be self-centered. We view everything through the lens of self and the impact of circumstances and situations on our lives. Cultivating humility helps us look outward and gain a bigger picture. Humble people see the needs of others, listen for God’s voice and direction, and realize things may not always go their way. But humility isn’t something that just happens. It is a process that involves awareness and effort. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)?


Intentional Efforts Toward Humility:


Decide why you want to be “seen”– We want to feel important and popular. But is low self-esteem really the issue? Are you seeking identity from how others view you rather than who you are in Christ? Think about why you need to be esteemed by others. Then pray, asking God to help you gain perspective on who you really are—a forgiven sinner and adopted child of the King.


Avoid self-elevation– If you’ve ever heard prayer requests that sound more like a bragging session, you know pride is an issue for most of us. But let others speak positively of you rather than broadcasting your accomplishments. This is a lesson everyone needs to learn, not just teens. Technology and social networking make self-promotion easier than ever, but think before you splash every second of life across social media in an effort to gain recognition. “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).


Speak well of others– Jealousy is a by-product of pride, and when we’re jealous of others, we rarely say anything positive about them. We’re more likely to criticize than to congratulate or comment on good qualities, but we take a step away from self-centeredness and toward humility when we speak positively of others.


Recognize personal pride triggers—Each of us encounter situations that prompt pride. By recognizing our own pride triggers, we can think ahead and respond with humility rather than arrogance. While there are legitimate reasons to feel pride, never belittle someone else in order to elevate yourself. And don’t confuse humility and humiliation. The Bible describes humility as meekness, not worthlessness.


Confess sin—One of the best ways to get a quick humility check is to honestly admit areas of sin to God. Most of us compare ourselves to others and decide we’re not as bad. We use other people as the yardstick rather than measuring ourselves again the holiness, greatness, power, and authority of God. But God is holy, and we are not.


Be a servant—Follow Jesus’ example of servanthood. [Jesus] “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).”Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).


Never view yourself as humble– If you think you’re humble, you’re probably not. People who are truly humble don’t realize they are. For most of us, humility is a journey, not a destination.  Just as we can never be perfect this side of Heaven, most of us are never totally humble. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep humility as a goal that we’re always working toward.


Candy Arrington is a contributing writer.





Last modified on Tuesday, 07 February 2017 14:44
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