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Is it a sin to be proud? - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

1 Peter 5:5b-7 "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' 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." (ESV)

The Hidden Cause of Anxiety

Wall plaques, T-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, journals... just about any gift item or knick-knack you can think of has been emblazoned with one of the most-often-quoted Scriptures of all time: "Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." Many people love to quote this simple and short verse, and for good reason — it's a promise that we all need to hear and cling to in times of uncertainty, distress, and suffering. It also makes us feel good because it gives us a goal... something to strive for... if we take the action of casting or throwing off the weight of our cares, then our loving God will take them upon Himself. The problem for most of us with this worry-busting prescription is that no matter how hard we try to cast off our anxieties, we end up finding that they are tethered to something else deep within us that won't let go. Like throwing a boomerang with all your might, it only travels so far away from you, only to whip back toward you at the same speed with which you hurled it away. 

What is this invisible tether attached to our anxiety that can lurk deep within us — even masquerade as a virtue or an attractive quality? It's pride. Most of our worries and anxieties are fed by a latent lie born out of being too prideful to trust that God's ways, timing, and decisions are better than ours. The opposite of this posture is humility, which recognizes that we have neither the wisdom nor the power to control everything around us, so the best course of action is having childlike trust in our loving heavenly Father. This is why the verses immediately preceding and following the promise are so important — humility is required to cut the cord of pride.

When we're in the midst of anxiety over a situation it can be almost impossible to see how our pride is a factor. After all, most worries and concerns drive us to our knees and push us to think very self-deprecating thoughts. We start to see ourselves as unworthy of help or receiving God's goodness. We falsely assume that if we lack self-confidence or have low self-esteem, that we are being humble. As author and pastor, Tim Keller said, "The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”

Although we all love to encourage each other to cast our worries on God because He cares for us, there are several equally powerful promises found in  1 Peter 5:5b-7 that are all too often in the shadows of the most quoted verse. First, He promises grace to the humble but also declares His opposition to the proud. To use Keller's definition of Gospel-humility, this means that God not only pours out an extra measure of favor upon those who stop thinking about themselves (in either a good or bad way), He will fill in the gaps for us where we come up short. We honor Him and He honors us, even if we fail by the world's standards or even our own definition of success. Second, He promises to bestow that honor — whether it's a promotion at work, a new opportunity to serve, or even good health — in His perfect timing. This means that God Himself goes before us to pave the way. We don't have to force ourselves into making something good happen. He is the architect of our path, and He gets the glory for it.

Daily Bible Readings

This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. 

Monday — Read Matthew 4:1-11 and 1 Peter 5:8. If the promises of 1 Peter 5:5-7 weren't enough incentive to stop thinking of ourselves regardless of how mighty or how low our thoughts might go, Peter closes this passage with a warning about the enemy who will use everything he can to keep us tethered to our pride and to conceal its existence in our lives. Like a starving, ferocious lion, he comes after us to make us so wrapped up in ourselves, we never even see the light of God's promises. As you re-read these passages, make a list of all the ways that Satan has tried to take advantage of your pride to make you selfish, distracted, angry, bitter, stingy, or arrogant. Then revisit 1 Peter 5:5-7 and meditate upon the promises that are yours through the power of Jesus. Spend time asking God to reveal to you any sources of pride that are hidden or masquerading as something else in your life. 

Tuesday - Read Isaiah 51:12-13 and Romans 8:31. In this passage, God asks His people, "Who are you that you are afraid..." In other words, we don't have a leg to stand on when we think that we have reason to fear anything. When you worry about your mistakes and fret about the future, you have forgotten that "the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth," loves you beyond comprehension and is for you, not against you. Re-read these passages again, letting them slowly seep into your soul and soothe your mind. Take a few moments to praise God, sing out loud to Him, and pray these passages back to Him. Ask Him to show you one thing that you can do today to make them more of a reality in your heart. 

Wednesday - Read James 4. While this chapter in James takes a harsh tone, the author is angry at the roots of pride that attempt to invade and undermine Gospel-humility from being a hallmark of those who call themselves followers of Jesus. Spend some time making a list of the things James is upset about and the role that pride plays in fueling them. Ask God to reveal to you how you can uproot any of them in your own life, no matter what form they make take or how insignificantly small they may seem. 

Thursday - Read Proverbs 11:2 and Jeremiah 9:23-24. There are many things that can destroy our ability to think clearly and act wisely, such as panic and pride. Both of these can completely derail all logic and even cause us to refuse help when it is offered. As you contemplate these verses, think about a time when you allowed your pride to overshadow wisdom. I Corinthians 10:13 promises us that God always provides a way out when we are tempted by sin, including the kinds of sin that come from within, like pride. Praise Him that He is always providing for you, even when you make mistakes, and ask Him to help you see all the ways He's led you toward the path of wisdom. 

Friday - Read Philippians 4:4-9. While the word pride is not mentioned in this passage, a posture of humility is implied throughout. As you read Paul's prescription for finding peace from anxiety, allow yourself to sit still before God and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how pride might be sabotaging your pursuit of peace. Then spend time asking Him how He wants you to bring His peace to others around you... in your home, your neighborhood, and your community.

 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

STUDY GUIDE

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