Spiritual pride is one of the most harmful sins to your faith. Pride says, “I’ve got this.” It causes you to look away from Jesus and shines a spotlight on you.
Today, the more independent you are as a person, the more you’re applauded. Self-starters, self-reliance, self-sustaining—these are all ways to describe someone who’s “made it.”
Selfless, servant, dependent—these are how God calls us to live out our faith. It’s a counter-cultural way of thinking.
But what does spiritual pride look like? It’s quite difficult to spot. After all, it’s something we’re proud of! Thankfully, we can sniff it out with God’s help. Here are a few ways to spot spiritual pride.
- Comparison. Comparison leads to pride? Really? Yes, really. Your journey with Christ is completely your own. To compare what God has blessed others with—children, marriage, income—takes away from delighting in how He’s blessed your life. Comparison can kill your joy and replace it with envy. It’s only a short step from that envy to the grip of pride’s whispers: You deserve what they have. You’re better than they are, after all.
- Defensiveness. Everyone messes up. But how do you handle the mistake or sin? Does it make you defensive and irritated that you’ve been “accused”? Pride doesn’t notice its own mistakes. It’s amazing at noticing everyone else’s. Just don’t dare notice pride’s flaws!
- Self-Obsession. Let’s get really honest—how much of your day is spent thinking about you? What you want, what you don’t have, what you need to be happy? The problem with self-obsession is it doesn’t leave room for anyone else. That includes God. Pride can’t stop thinking about itself.
Okay, so we’ve lined up a few ways to spot spiritual pride—let’s talk about how you can combat it.
- Pray for humility. When we ask God for characteristics like humility, He answers by giving us opportunities to be humble. You won’t just wake up one day without the urge to compare yourself to others, but you will learn to celebrate others’ lives without jealousy.
- Give grace. One of my mentors always said it’s really hard to hate someone you pray for. If you feel defensive because someone wronged you, try praying for them. Thank God for them, ask Him to bless their lives. Soon, what was so divisive doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Grace can open the door for you to receive truth that pride might be trying to shut out of your life.
- Practice reliance. God calls us to be completely dependent on Him. This doesn’t mean we’re inactive in our faith—it means we properly place our reliance on Him. Reliance = trust that God will take care of you. It takes the pressure off. You can’t do everything, but God can.
So why is spiritual pride one of the most harmful sins we can struggle with? Because it’s the opposite of love. Stay with me. Humility seems like it’s the opposite of pride, but when you dig a little deeper you’ll find the true opposite is love. Allow Jesus to undo the knots spiritual pride has created in your heart. You’re not better than others to Him. You’re not perfect. You’re not meant to be the center of your story.
Humbly and graciously allow God to undo your pride. Jesus didn’t consider Himself too spiritually great to help us. He is love. And we can be less prideful and more loving every day if we’ll allow Him to work in our hearts.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV