On those sweet mornings when I can actually be up for an hour or two before the kids wake up, I enjoy the solitude and spend some extra time in prayer. I am usually sitting in my comfy recliner all covered up with a cozy blanket and warm drink by my side and my Bible, journal, or prayer notebook in my lap. But this past week, it felt wrong. I was drawn on several occasions to my knees in prayer and the transformation in my heart and attitude was powerful! I mean seriously on my knees, face down on the couch cushion or bedside drenching it in tears and humbled before my God. It was out of conviction that I found myself there. As I was reading verse after verse about pride, arrogance, and conceit I saw how my own pride had been keeping me submerged in myself. I did not have a humble servant’s heart, but instead was living in my own thoughts and wants.
We all have the sin of pride in varying degrees. As it has been said, “Pride is the root of all sin”. Different translations of the Bible say in this verse that love is not “proud, arrogant, conceited or puffed up.” Do any of those adjectives describe a person you would say is loving? Maybe loving themselves. In fact, they are so consumed with self and possessions, there is no room for love of others. And this is exactly why pride is so detrimental to love. It puts self first and its priorities are on the things of this world.
Pride is competitive in nature and makes a person try and lift himself above others. This will never produce harmony or unity, but only conflict and division. It builds up walls and barriers and leaves no room for humble service. It is in direct opposition of Jesus’ call to “love one another”.
If you do a word study of “pride, proud or arrogance” in the Bible, you will not have to read very many references to see what an abomination the Lord considers pride to be. Here is a quick sampling of verses.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. (Psalm 101:5)
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)
Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (Psalm 31:18)
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
These are the verses that brought me to my knees in tears. I confess I was proud. You see, I was exalting myself and wanting the glory. I was more eager to get what I wanted than to die to myself and serve my family with love. I was serving, but not always without complaining.
Then after the confession, I turned to scripture again. I was seeking Him. My heart was humbled and the Lord alone did that.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11, repeated again in vs. 17)
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)
When we are proud, we are scattered in our own thoughts. In Mary’s Song she says “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51-52). But humility gets us out of our own heads and sets our sights on God. Only then can love pour forth to others, out from our hearts full of thankfulness. Loving one another requires a humble servant’s heart. Jesus showed us exactly what that looks like.
In Philippians 2, Paul is instructing the Church to serve one another in love.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
In Christ Jesus we have a perfect example of a humble servant. Jesus was not proud or boastful, although he had every right to be. He had a willingness to deprive himself of his exalted status.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
In the footnotes of my NIV Bible it says he did not count equality with God a thing to be “asserted”. He could have used it to his own advantage, but chose not to. His humility was a process of emptying himself, taking and being found in human form and dying.
And in direct response to His obedience, the Father restored him to His glorious heavenly status that he always had from the beginning, but willingly relinquished for a time.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
His humiliation led to his exaltation. And so it must be for us.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)
I can keep my eyes on Jesus and by his grace and grace alone, love and serve others for their good. For God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And out of humility, I can consider others more significant than myself. “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm25:9). But my reward will be great in heaven, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).
Are you humbly serving others in love, or are you putting yourself first? Consider the cross and see the grace Jesus has given us. Though we may be unappreciated, taken for granted or even persecuted in our service here on earth, we have a Savior that deserved even more and suffered to the point of death, because he cared for us.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
- Love Does Not Envy or Boast- Abide in My Love Series (abidingheartsathome.wordpress.com)