Ask anybody that knows me and I will regularly admit that my biggest spiritual struggle is with pride. When I have confided with my friends about this struggle, many times they look at me with confusion. Sometimes they even try to disagree with me. The reason that many people do not see pride in my life is because that have confused arrogance with pride. Arrogance is a byproduct of pride, or more accurately an outward manifestation of pride. They should not, however, be equated with one another. Here's the relationship: One cannot be arrogant without being prideful, but one can be prideful without being arrogant. Pride is a necessary prerequisite for arrogance, but arrogance is not the necessary result of pride. Oftentimes I can be very prideful. I am not often arrogant. I deliberately try to avoid being arrogant, because nobody likes arrogant people, but that does not mean that I have necessarily dealt with the heart issue of pride. (Side note: Paul Crouthamel wrote a great blog this week along these same lines. You should check it out.)
In Romans 12:3
, Paul tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought but to think of ourselves with sober judgment. "Thinking more highly of yourself than you ought" is a good working definition of pride. When I am honest with myself and make an attempt at "sober judgment," I must admit that in my heart of hearts, I am full of pride. How about you? Probably most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought. That's why we get pissed off at people in traffic. What right to they have to treat me that way!
In a recent blog
, my wife said that we think we deserve something because of a sense of entitlement. Then she went on to explain that a sense of entitlement is essentially thinking that we are more important than anyone else. That's pride. When get get enraged because we have to wait in a long line, or when we think that traffic laws don't apply to us, or when we gossip or talk bad about others, or when we won't volunteer for certain positions at church because they are "below us," or we hold back money that is rightfully God's because we "need" it, we are thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Am I hitting close to home yet?
So that brings us to today's "Great Daily Prayer." Here is a great one in the battle against pride. This one again comes from The Imitation of Christ.
and the opening quote comes from Psalm 8:4
Lord, "what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?"
What have we deserved that you should grant us your grace?
O Lord, what reason have I to complain if you abandon me? Or if you do not do what I ask, what can I rightly say against your decision?
What I should truly think and say is this: Lord, I am nothing, I can do nothing, I have nothing of myself that is good, and I am defective in all things and continually tend to achieve nothing.
And unless you help me and inwardly instruct me, I will become totally lukewarm and ineffective.
For while we please ourselves we displease you, and while we pant after the praise of people, we are deprived of true virtues.
Your name be praised, not mine — your work be magnified, not mine. Let your holy name be blessed, but let no part of human praise be given to me.
You are my glory, you are the joy of my heart.
In you I will glory and rejoice all the day, but as for myself I will not glory in anything except my infirmities.
Let others seek honor from one another, I will seek the honor that comes from the only God.
For all human glory, all temporal honor, all worldly elevation, is worthless and foolish when compared to your eternal glory.
O my God, my truth, my mercy — O Blessed Trinity, to you alone be praise, honor, power, and glory forever and ever.