“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:5–6)
Nothing is less befitting a Christian than pride. The Fathers called pride the beginning of Adam’s first sin and the root of every other that followed. The two Hebrew words for pride center around man’s blindness to his true stature. Like a bag of potato chips, so impressive, full, and promising at first touch, the proud man is disappointingly empty when opened. His puff and bluster are a facade to hide the truth.
In his book, the Crook in the Lot, Thomas Boston has say this about the proud man:
The proud man is God’s rival; he makes himself his own god, and would have those about him make him theirs too. He rages and blusters if they will not fall down before him. But God will bring him down.
The signs of pride are Legion: The proud man thinks himself the beginning and the end. Self is the great engine of his life. He never stops to consider God. When He does approach the Almighty, it is always to get, never simply to wonder and worship. Mostly he wonders why God hasn’t given him more. Gratitude never grows in the soil of a proud heart.
In his social toolbox, he has one favorite tool — the hammer, and it makes every problem look like a nail. He is a living illustrating of the Bob principle - “When Bob has a problem in all his relationships, Bob is usually the problem.” He tends to view others as means to an end, principally his own. As such, he lists his acquaintances under two heads: a help or a hindrance. Ulterior motives shadow his every painted virtue. He feels only irritation in the presence of the boring, the weak, and the simple. In conversation, he listens poorly, impatient for an opportunity to speak. He sweetings his coffee with grumbling and slander. In every argument, He is always right, and His vices (which are many) are always the fault of others.
The great, and perhaps the only antidote to pride is the knowledge of God. John Flavel said it best: “Those who know God will be humble; those who know themselves cannot be proud.”
It is, however, as we know God in Christ that pride receives its death-blow. Here is the one man, the God-man, who had a right to glory in Himself. But He was the man who made Himself nothing. Existing in the form of God, He embraced the form of a servant, “showing up in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his bladder, and who depended on a teenager for shelter, food and love.” But His humility did not stop with becoming a zero on the ledger. He went down further still, becoming sin, becoming crucified, until at last, there in the darkness, He became cursed. All for us — proud men, proud enough to sin. Here is the place we must go. To the cross, where we must look on the one whose dying breath pleads for humility. Look long on him and lose the love of pride.