You detect arrogant pride quickly because it stinks. Monoxide pride works differently by seeping into your spirit as an odorless, tasteless gas. Just as carbon monoxide slowly suffocates a person, so undetected pride will smother your faith.
Religious pride oozes in quietly
Jesus said to be on the lookout for the subtle spirit of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1). The Pharisees actually were the good guys before Jesus called them out. These people really believed in having church and doing everything they could to be close to God. They did not start out as preachers or politicians but as everyday folk who wanted to live right. Over time, their humble walk of faith became something to brag about. Their self-sacrifice became a social status and their humility became infused with quiet pride that killed their original intentions.
Could Jesus say the same thing today about you and your faith? Could He say, “Stay away from the spirit of those Evangelicals”? What if He said, “Beware of the subtle pride of the Pentecostals”? Would you be offended if He singled out your church? Perhaps we are all breathing deadly vapors of self-righteousness when we think of ourselves as having it all right.
I know a man who is constantly complaining about people with “religious spirits.” He claims that certain church groups create a following around their religion and not Jesus. While his assessment is right, I’ve noticed that his faith has become more and more centered on pointing out those with religious spirits and less on Jesus. Even if you have it right, when you start comparing yourself to others you have already started inhaling those deadly fumes.
Exalting pride in others
Do you release monoxide pride into the souls of other people? You might be if you complement others’ traits instead of their character qualities. For example, when you tell a girl she has gorgeous hair, you feed her conceit. She had little to do with the color or texture of her hair. If you tell her, “I enjoy how you lift up the Lord with your piano playing,” you build her resolve to work hard at honing her skills. One inflates her self-worth; the other motivates her self-development.
When you criticize and correct, do you feed pride or help a person reconstruct lasting values? Monoxide pride says, “You are a worthless fool!” Constructive leadership says, “Honey, writing on the wall with your crayon is destructive. I will have to punish you so you remember that we do not destroy other people’s things.” Honor retains the soul while crushing the evil. Shame takes both down together.
We need wisdom when speaking to people about values (good/bad) that we not crush or inflate the person, but only affect the character qualities. We want good ones to grow larger while maintaining the person’s humility. We want bad traits to diminish while preserving the individual’s self-worth.
You cannot breath in the vapors of compliments yourself, however. Whenever you start believing what others say about you, you are beginning to suffocate on pride. Turn every compliment to the Lord as thanks and praise for His power in your life. That does not mean you should reject compliments from people. Telling someone, “The good you see in me is God not me” can be more prideful because you are doting on yourself. Thank the person and find something encouraging to say to him or her.
Many times gushing people need validation themselves. It is not so much that they think you are spectacular, as they simply want to attach themselves to anything that looks worthwhile because they feel worthless. I would advise such a person not to fixate on me, but on God.
However you handle it, watch out for what happens in your heart. If you fail to turn your compliments into praise to God, you might get in trouble like one man a long time ago.
Destroy the noxious pride of Nebuchadnezzar
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon looked at all his riches, power, and success and patted himself on the back. Because he did not give God honor, the Lord struck him down from his high horse and made him eat grass like a horse. Out-of-his-mind, Nebuchadnezzar roamed in the wilderness for seven years.
The fact that the kingdom stayed together without him at the helm is proof that everything does not rise and fall on leadership. Many of us in places of responsibility think the world would stop without us. We need to realize first, that any success is a gift from God, and second, some bright young man is always ready to replace us when we crash.
At the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s delirium, he came to his senses and gave praise to the God of heaven. God restored him to his place of respect and worldwide influence because he gave Him glory. What about you? Do you glorify yourself or God? Do you follow your own will or do you submit to the Lord’s?
Pride can look like humility
I am not sure why, but giving presents on birthdays and Christmas really bugs me. Recently I realized this was rooted in pride. At first glance, I thought I was being humble to want to reject someone’s generosity and tell them to pass it along to those who needed it more than I did. Looking at my soul in the light of the Word, however, I saw that my pride wanted to be treated as greater, not lesser than others. I have had to swallow some crow and admit I needed the help of others. Their kindness got me out of a pinch caused by my poor planning or misfortune. Walking in the Spirit, I genuinely appreciate gifts and acts of service done by others.
Many children and childish people experience the angst of pride when they get a gift that was different than they asked for or expected. Humility is truly grateful. Humility does not focus on its own wants but the needs of the giver. Sometimes saying, “Thank you, this means so much,” will build a person’s confidence. You do not have to lie and say it was what you always wanted. But you can submit yourself to them in graciousness and honor.
Pride controls many gift exchanges. I am not sure exchanging gifts with family and friends at Christmas time is biblical at all. Sure God gave the best gift, but we cannot give Him anything of similar value. Jesus said to give to those who cannot repay you, not those who can.
Exchanging gifts is not true giving. Pride tells you that you have to give a gift or you will look like a fool in front of your family or social group. Humility gives to those who will never repay and may not even thank you.