Savanarola, the great Florentine preacher of the fifteenth century, one day saw an elderly woman worshiping at the statue of Mary, which stood in his city’s great cathedral. On the following day, he noticed the same woman again on her knees before the [statue]. With great interest, Savanarola observed that day after day, she came and did homage before the statue.
“Look how she reverences the [statue of Mary],” Savanarola whispered to one of his fellow priests.
“Don’t be deceived by what you see,” the priest responded. “Many years ago, an artist was commissioned to create a statue for the cathedral. As he sought a young woman to pose as the model for his sculpture, he found one who seemed to be the perfect subject. She was young, serenely lovely and had a mystical quality in her face. The image of that young woman inspired his statue of Mary. The woman who now worships the statue is the same one who served as its model years ago. Shortly after the statue was put in place, she began to visit it and has continued to worship there religiously ever since.” —Tony Campolo, 7 Deadly Sins, p. 74
We teach our children to be proud, meaning we want them to strive for excellence, but there is a sinful pride that is at the root of many sins. Sinful pride is arrogant. It is the sin of exalting oneself and placing one’s interests above those of others. Pride craves admiration and even adoration, and will not share the limelight. Instead, Christians should:
“…give preference to one another in honor,” (Romans 12:10).
“…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave,” (Matthew 20:26, 27).
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips,” (Proverbs 27:2).
The Problem with Pride
- Pride is a primary barrier to salvation. It makes it difficult for people to accept grace, 2 Kings 5:1-14.
- Pride infects Christians in a variety of ways that can spoil their commitment to Christ.
- “Look at what I have done!”
- Matthew 6:1-18
- Pride mars many ministries.
- Pride keeps us from knowing the truth about ourselves.
- A prideful person will never be able to face those facets of their lives that are evil and need repentance, 1 John 1:9.
- Christianity delivers us from the dishonesty that stems from pride.
- Pride ruins relationships.
- We would rather have people admire the selves we pretend to be than to love the selves we really are.
- Pride often acts as a barrier to reconciliation.
- Parental pride can lead to the destruction of their children.
- Pride can destroy a nation. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18).
Deliverance from Pride
The children worked long and hard on their own little cardboard shack. It was to be a special spot—a clubhouse—when they could meet in solemn assembly or just laugh, play games, and fool around. As they thought long and hard about their rules, they came up with three rather perceptive ones:
- Nobody act big.
- Nobody act small.
- Everybody act medium.
Just “act medium.” Believable, honest, human, thoughtful, and down-to-earth.” —Charles Swindol, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life,
The solution is to develop a healthy humility, but we often confuse humility with humiliation. Humility enhances our humanity and makes us more like Christ, whereas humiliation diminishes our humanity and tempts us to forget that we are made in the image of God. Healthy humility is the recognition that God has imparted to each of us, by his grace, a gift which makes us greater on the inside than most people will ever know.
So how can we be truly humble? By looking to God and cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.” That means it’s important to remember who we were “B.C.” – “before Christ” came into our lives (1 Timothy 1:15 – 17).