Pride is a (Not So) Funny Thing

True story: Today, my son brought home a toothbrush and toothpaste from preschool, courtesy of a local dentist who donated his time to come talk to the students about proper oral hygiene. I asked my son what the dentist told them, to which he replied, “He said, ‘I want you to brush your teeth for two minutes.’” I wish I were exaggerating, but I literately felt myself stand a bit taller, chin up, smirk on, and thought, “Well we already do that”. Then I almost said to my son, “Did you tell the dentist that you already do that?” Before the words could come out of my mouth, a picture of a meme that I shared recently popped into my head.

It reads, “No one could’ve convinced me that I’d be this bad at making sure my kids brush their teeth.” (from @itsmommyhour on Instagram)

I captioned it, “So glad it’s not just me!!” (Plus about a bazillion crying laughing emojis because I’m that person.)

And yet there I was, a mere few days later puffing with pride over the fact that we set a two-minute timer for my son when he brushes his teeth. Making this even more ridiculous is the why behind why we started setting a timer in the first place. Prior to this, my son would take for-freaking-ever brushing his teeth so he didn’t have to go to bed. It’s not like we were trying to teach him great hygiene; we were trying to speed up the bedtime process. How was I then standing there tempted with pride at that moment?

Pride is Sneaky

Pride is such a sneaky thing. It snakes its way into our heart and mind and requires zero encouragement from us. We are sinful, fallen creatures and our natural bent, as a result, is toward self. We like to think highly of ourselves and we live in a culture that encourages that. Scratch that; it’s only true sometimes. Other times advertisers try to make us feel the opposite. It’s all very confusing, and it can all lead to pride. We don’t actually have to feel good about ourselves to be prideful. As long as we are simply focused on our needs above others and our feelings above the Gospel, we are either falling into pride or neck-deep in it already.

Strands of pride weave their way into our thoughts and feelings, connecting ideas that have no business being connected (like the teeth brushing example from my life today). As Tim Keller puts it, “Pride is the carbon-monoxide of Sin. It silently and slowly kills you without you even knowing.”* The Bible has even more scathing words about pride. Check out some of these verses:

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (Proverbs 8:30 NIV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)

Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)

They will stretch out their hands in it,
    as swimmers stretch out their hands to swim.
God will bring down their pride
    despite the cleverness of their hands. (Isaiah 25:11 NIV) – The context here is that Isaiah is reminding the people that deliverance will not come to the proud who continue to defy God. (paraphrased from NIV Zondervan Study Bible, p 1365 footnote)

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all hi sways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37 NIV)

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are nothing, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (Gal 6:3-4 NIV)

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: 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 12:13 NIV)

And that is only a small sample of verses that tackle this issue!

Because pride is so sly though, it can be difficult to recognize in our lives. How do we fight this very real and present enemy then? Below are a few ways that have proven effective in my life, and that I believe are Biblical. I hope they can encourage you as you go to war with this sin that is common to all. Please know that I do not write this from a place of, “Hey look at me! I’m so humble!” NO.WAY. I come to you as a wretched sinner who is tempted by pride at the smallest things (I mean…toothbrushes, hello!) and who needs Jesus every second of every day in order to have any hope at fixing my mind on things eternal rather than myself. I am WITH you in this battle and praying for us as we strive to turn our face toward Jesus more and more.

Stay Connected to the Word

I am a broken record about being in the Word on this blog, but truly I cannot help it. I have seen the effects of digging into Scripture in my life, and I’ve seen what happens when I choose not to. It’s quite the reality check when you read about Moses, who, when God told him he was going to die soon, simply requested that the Lord provide someone else to lead the Israelites (Isaiah 27:15-17) He did not whine and complain and say, “How dare you not let me enter the Promised Land after all I put up with leading these people!” I shudder to think about myself in Moses’ place.

Or even more so than Moses, when you read about Jesus. Literally anything about our precious Savior. He did not have to come to earth. He owed us nothing, and yet he willingly died in our place so that we could be with him forever.

How can that not break our pride? How can we puff ourselves up in the face of the Word?

We also receive strong warnings from Scripture, as evidenced by the verses above, but also in the stories of those who became prideful and did not honor God. While David was called a man after God’s own heart, he also had significant sin in his life that caused him tremendous pain and suffering. Or how about the emotional turmoil that Peter must have gone through after denying Jesus three times? The truth is, we can see ourselves in these stories as well, and that should bring us to our knees.

When we neglect Scripture, our souls tend to forget how needy they are for a Savior. We easily become distracted and inward focused. It’s vitally important that we remain in the Word.

Listen to Trusted Friends

If you have friends and family in your life who are actively seeing Jesus, invite them to speak into your circumstances. More importantly, listen when they do.

I once declared that I was thinking about being a teacher and one of my friends lovingly said to me, “You know, I just don’t see you as a teacher.” I was, of course, super offended because how dare she?! Honestly though, I would be a horrible teacher and the reason I was considering it had nothing to do with the actual job itself. I’m so thankful she spoke up because even in my offense, it did cause me to pause and question my motives.

I come from an upbringing with a great deal of unhealth. I learned subconsciously that the correct way to argue and face criticism is to be manipulative and never sincerely apologetic. You can imagine how my early years of marriage were. I am so thankful that my husband did not let me get away with this behavior. He lovingly and consistently pointed out to me when I was being manipulative, unrepentant, and unforgiving. Slowly, by the grace of Jesus, I learned a better way. God used my husband to transform that area of my life.

But what if I had not listened to these loved ones of mine? YIKES! I get it, it’s hard to admit when we are or we may be wrong about something. Do you know what’s even harder though? Humiliation due to pride, living in unhealthy relationships, and facing the consequences of sin are all much worse than accepting loving correction and advice.

Ask God to Reveal Sin

This one is self-explanatory. If you are unsure where pride exists in your life, ask God. Trust me, He will reveal it! He is in the business of holiness and when we ask for more of that, we will start to see our sin more clearly. Buckle up though because it could be a bumpy ride. It will be far better than living in self-delusion and self-absorption though. And a loving God will be at your side every step of the way.

Pray for Difficult People (and anyone else you compare yourself to)

Often we can become prideful as we compare ourselves to others. You know, things like:

“I am always friendly to her and she never makes an effort with me.”

“If she would just plan to leave ten minutes earlier, she wouldn’t be late all the time.”

{Insert literally any parenting thing here – formula v. nursing, working v. stay-at-home, etc. etc.}

BUT, what happens when we pray for the people we are comparing ourselves to (especially the ones we may find difficult)? Suddenly our hearts are moved with compassion. Much of the time we realize we aren’t so different after all. It brings us off our self-built pedestal (that no one else has us on, by the way) and back down to the reality of I Corinthians 4:7:

“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?”

Praying for others is a game changer that not only blesses them, but changes us as well.

Tackling Our Pride Issue

I hope the above have been encouraging to you. As you think about where you are right now, I challenge you to consider what steps would most benefit you in tackling pride in your life. Maybe even invite someone into your struggle by telling them where you see this sin, and asking them to point it out to you when they observe it. It’s scary for sure, but if Heaven is our aim, let’s not allow anything to distract us from growing closer to Jesus and further from self.

Love to you, friends!


Pride Is A Not So Funny Thing

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