The Pride Trap
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ (Is. 14:12-14 NKJV)
Pride is the most deadly sin we can fall into. It is the sin of Lucifer as outlined in these five “I will” statements. I believe all sin is rooted in pride.
There are over 50 references to ‘pride’ in scripture and none of them have a good connotation. It is always viewed as an egregious sin. The book of Proverbs is repeatedly outspoken about the dangers of pride, most particularly in the verse:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18 NKJV)
Pride goes before destruction. This thing is coming for your life! It wants to stop God’s flow of blessings, choke your anointing and blind you from destiny.
The book of James also warns us that God will resist us when we are walking in pride. Grace is lavished upon the humble (Jam. 4:6). If you think you can get by without God’s grace operating in your life then you are already deceived.
Most believers agree that pride is sin but many are oblivious to the sneaky ways that pride can manifest. I’d like to expose the sneakier aspects of pride that we can easily fall into if we do not keep our hearts right before God. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is, however, what the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart today to share with you.
Nine ‘Sneaky Symptoms’ of pride
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) says:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
This word for ‘fear’ in the Greek, deilia, is better translated ‘timidity’ or ‘cowardice’. Whilst fear certainly motivates timidity, it really manifests out of a concern for how others perceive us. We are not to be concerned about others’ opinion of us. Love them, yes, but don’t allow their perception of you to stop you from speaking out when led to do so. “The fear of man brings a snare” (Prov. 29:25a NKJV). Your identity is in Christ, not in the perception of others.
I really detest the phrase: “Fake it till you make it”. I would much rather be real thanks. Now I don’t advocate sharing every intricate detail of our personal struggles with people, but I do believe in being honest about where we are. Putting on a ‘brave face’ and pretending everything is all sunshine and roses when it isn’t is a manifestation of pride. Yes, it is important to keep our eyes fixed on Christ during a trial, but it is destructive to take the English ‘stiff upper lip’ approach to our problems. Stoicism is not healthy for anybody. We need to be vulnerable before God and with certain people we can trust.
Wow, I am so guilty of this one! Independence can lead us to resisting help from others, including God. We do not have all the answers and sometimes we need to ask for help. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. We should not deny others a blessing by refusing to allow them to help us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). When we are weak, He is strong.
This links in closely with timidity and pretense. When we are more concerned with how we are perceived than the actual state of our hearts, we are walking in pride. God looks at our hearts, not our outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). You can love people fully without giving a fig about what they think of you. There is true freedom in this realisation.
When we wrestle with superficiality we can have a tendency to correct the outward appearance while ignoring the heart.
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. (Matt. 23:25-26 NLT)
This can manifest in obvious ways such as always seeking the limelight. But it could also be seen in being a ‘yes man’. An inability to say ‘no’ to people is rooted in insecurity and pride and in how we are perceived by others. Jesus instructs us to keep our speech simple:
Again, your ancestors were taught, ‘Never swear an oath that you don’t intend to keep, but keep your vows to the Lord God.’ However, I say to you, don’t bind yourself by taking an oath at all. Don’t swear by heaven, for heaven is where God’s throne is placed. Don’t swear an oath by the earth, because it is the rug under God’s feet, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King. And why would you swear by your own head, because it’s not in your power to turn a single hair white or black? But just let your words ring true. A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will suffice. Anything beyond this springs from a deceiver. (Matt. 5:33-37 TPT)
I love the translation, “just let your words ring true”. Simple, sincere speech flows from humility which is the opposite of pride.
If God is for you, who can be against you? (Rom. 8:31). If this truth abides in our heart, we will not feel the need to defend ourselves. Offense is a choice, we can either take it or leave it. Now I’m not advocating being a door mat. That would slip into the trap of timidity. But we don’t need to allow ourselves to become offended by others’ opinions of us. Fight the battle on your knees and in your prayer closet.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12 NKJV).
This is a sensitive one. I have definitely struggled with this. When faced with trials, it is easy to fall into the trap of a ‘pity party for one’. But self pity can blind us from the bigger picture. God is working in our lives to bring all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Self pity also blinds us to the plight of others. We are too busy feeling sorry for ourselves to see the needs of others. When we shift our focus off our circumstances and trust He is working, we can bless others even when we are going through a trial. We can and should find joy in every trial (Jam. 1:2-4).
Pity vs compassion
There is actually a difference between pity and compassion. The Lord had to show me this personally. Compassion is the heart of God but pity is a manifestation of pride. Why? Pity places you in a position to feel sorry for someone. This inevitably means you have elevated yourself above that person, even if unwittingly. The better option is compassion. Compassion is a mixture of love and hate. Love for the person, hatred for what has kept them bound. Compassion is true empathy. It means working with people where they are at, recognising that we are not the Saviour. It also means not treating them as a victim but giving them hope that there is a way out. Jesus is, of course, the only answer.
This final symptom of pride is a tricky one. It is easy to fall into when you are actively trying to avoid pride. But as with all things, we must find the balance. Real humility comes out of a process of growing and maturing in God. We can stumble into false humility quite innocently out of an earnest desire to humble ourselves before God. Demeaning yourself is not humility. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). False humility is often a cover for brokenness. If you can’t receive a compliment, you have a problem. Real humility actually produces a confidence, not in our own efforts, but in who we are in Christ.
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” ~ CS Lewis.
I hope, Beloved, that this gives you some insight into how sneaky pride can be in our lives. It is really a trap we need to avoid. Remember, all issues flow from the heart (Prov. 4:23). A heart that is surrendered to God will grow in humility. It needs to be our heart’s cry, “Lord, keep me from pride!”. As we grow in our realisation of our identity in Christ and keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him, we can be free of pride. Humility is the only way forward for Christian growth and maturity.
Love and blessings