The Oxford Dictionary defines pride as: “Consciousness of one’s own dignity; the quality of having an excessively high opinion of one’s self or for one’s importance.” Some of pride’s synonyms give us an even wider picture: Conceit - an exaggerated opinion of self; Egotism - to have an excessive preoccupation with self; Self-centeredness.
So many of us see this scripture and don’t think it applies to us:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
You think that because you have debased yourself or have a lower opinion of yourself, that you have no pride. But today I was awakened to the other face of pride – self-loathing and depression.
Whenever you start to think of yourself as either too great or too awful, you are being self-centered. When you think that you are a horrible person not worthy of anything – you have an exaggerated opinion of yourself as lower than you are. When you allow yourself to become focused on your importance or unimportance, you are becoming excessively preoccupied with yourself.
The Bible backs this up if you look at it in this light:
When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also... (Proverbs 11:2)
A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
Any time you are focused on self instead of on God, you are being prideful. It doesn’t matter whether you are telling yourself you are awesome or that you are hideous, it’s still a self focus. Insulting yourself is not humility - it is false humility, and it is pride.
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)
Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you. It is not what you do or what you look like that matters to God – so these things shouldn’t be your focus. Anything that can be seen by people at all (giving to the poor, prophesying, doing good deeds) is not what God looks at. He looks at what is done in secret so that He can reward you openly.
So what do you do in secret? Do you debase yourself and insult yourself, thinking “well, one thing that is not my problem is pride.” Today, God has this message for you. The pride of depression and self-debasement will leave you empty, condemned, and feeling shame. It brings you low.
Low is not where God wants you to be. How many times does He say He wants to lift you up? When you start to feel down in the dumps, stop your train of thought, count your blessings and tell Satan to get behind you. Look at the inward things and stop looking at the outward.
Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
So if what you are looking at is something that is temporary and fleeting, then it is vanity (another sort of pride). This is when it is time to re-focus on what is eternal and everlasting. This is humility. And everyone knows that the opposite of pride is humility.
My prayer for myself and for you today is that we check our pride the minute it rears its ugly head. I pray that we do not allow ourselves to focus on our successes or our failures to the point of elation or depression. I pray that instead that we focus on our God who values us at our worth, not below or above it.