For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3 (ESV)OUR GREATEST OBSTACLE
Imagine a world severely infected by a hidden enemy that does not discriminate. Its influence reaches into all pockets of humanity regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, status or religious upbringing. Of course, during a global pandemic, we don’t need our imaginations.
However, I’m not referring to the coronavirus. I’m referring to the infection which has been wreaking havoc upon the hearts of humanity since the Garden. I’m referring to pride. Now, I am not intending to make light of our current, coronavirus pandemic. But rather to point out that this can be a time when we tangibly comprehend how vulnerable humans are to deeper, unseen forces – like the spiritual disease of pride.
Pride, according to the prophet Jeremiah, is self-exalting, self-magnifying arrogance (see Jer. 48:29
). Paul describes it as “thinking of [yourself] more highly than you ought to think
(v3).” In the context of Christian community, pride must be addressed because it always obstructs relationships – between self and others and between self and God. Notice that Paul mentions pride as he transitions from individual spiritual practices (verses 1 & 2) to the goal of a diversely-gifted, harmonious local congregation.
But let’s also consider life at home. When it is thriving, there can be no unity between husbands and wives, no joy between siblings and no peace with extended family. Therefore, in all relationships, we must be sober-minded about the reality of pride and its persistent pull upon our hearts.
Unfortunately, this is one spiritual disease which is much easier to diagnose in other people than within ourselves. So how can we identify it and replace it with humility in order to live within unified relationships?
I believe that God included real life battles with pride within the pages of Biblical history for this very reason! Consider some of these examples. Satan, before his rebellion, boasted in his own beauty (Ez. 28:17). Adam shifted blame off of himself (Gen 3:12). Cain murdered his brother (Gen. 3:7-8). Esau scorned his family heritage (Gen 25:34). Jacob conned his father (Gen. 27:24). Noami drew attention to herself in her bitterness (Ruth 1:20). Saul illegally performed the duties of Samuel (1 Sam. 13:9). Michal scorned her husband’s style of worship (2 Sam. 6:20). David committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:4). Peter avoided other Christians (Gal. 2:12). And that’s the short list! Can you identity with any of these? I can, too.
Paul’s recommended antidote for the obstacle of pride is for disciples of Jesus to continue to see ourselves as recipients of God’s undeserved gifts. Verse 3 reminds us that God’s grace is a gift. Even our own measure of faith is a gift. What then is left for us to boast about? Nothing - only Christ.May we be quick to diagnosis our own pride when it surfaces and refocus our minds upon our gracious, gift-given Lord. Through Jesus, Amen!