PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,’ God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’’ (Luke 18:9-14 NKJV).
Spiritual pride is a disease that affects both Christians and non-Christians. Every minister of God no matter his title, Christian, etc. is vulnerable. Pride is bad but spiritual pride, which is another dimension of pride, is worse. Pride can be simply defined as thinking too highly of oneself or having an inordinate opinion of oneself.
Unfortunately, those who are guilty of spiritual pride or any other pride for that matter hardly admit it thus making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to repent of it and escape the just reward for their iniquity. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (NKJV). Many spiritually proud people have crashed just as this scripture has said. And many sinners will end in hellfire because of spiritual pride – they feel they are okay because they keep some high moral code. Those who are well don’t need physicians; Jesus didn’t come to save the righteous –those who think they’re already good enough – but he came to call sinners unto repentance (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32).
In the opening scripture above, the Pharisee was guilty of spiritual pride. He boasted about not cheating, not sinning, and not committing adultery and boasted about fasting and tithing, thinking that such credentials would impress God. It might impress man but not God – He looks beyond our actions; He is more concerned about our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). He goes beyond our actions to examine our motives (Proverbs 16:2; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:4).
God saw in the Pharisee a religious man full of pride, a man who behaved as if God owed him attention because of his religious activities. He went away without receiving anything from the Lord. Right as living a holy life, fasting, tithing, and other spiritual activities are, they are not the basis of a man’s acceptance by God. No one should boast about these or consider himself better than others because of his or her superior records in this regard. You fast, pray, worship, etc. more than others, and so what? All that is good but it’s nothing you should develop a swollen head about.
Isaiah 64:6a says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (NKJV). No spiritual activity that you engage in or spiritual exploits you do is superior to the work that Jesus did on the cross – the shedding of his blood for the salvation of the world. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV). Jesus died to save us not because of the works of righteousness which we have done, but according to God’s mercy (Titus 3:4-5).
Unlike this Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, the tax collector whom the Jews usually despised because tax collectors were considered as traitors and thieves, had no spiritual credentials to be proud of. He simply stood at a distance not even lifting his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Beating his chest in sorrow, he acknowledged his sinfulness saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (verse 13b NKJV). Jesus concluded by saying that this tax collector-sinner returned home justified before God; the self-righteous Pharisee did not. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (verse 14b NKJV) Truly, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
Beware of religious pride; don’t be proud because of your positions or accomplishments. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10 NKJV). 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (NKJV).
Hear the word of the Master: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12 NKJV). God will judge the proud (Ezekiel 28:2-10; 30:6-8, 18; Isaiah 13:11; 16:6-7; Jeremiah 13:15-19; 50:29-32; Zephaniah 2:9-11; Daniel 4:37; Obadiah 3:1-4; Zechariah 9:6, 10:11, 11:3; Malachi 4:1).
The beginning of the problem of Lucifer was spiritual pride. Lucifer was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:14, 16) until iniquity was found in him – he rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-19). In the Bible, the cherubim are usually associated with worship and praise of God. Lucifer was an anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14). As a cherub, he is believed to be involved in worshipping God. He, probably, felt he was also good to be receiving worship, as he was “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12b NKJV). So he said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14 NKJV). His rebellion was foiled and he was cast out of heaven.
It is spiritual pride that will make a spiritual leader not know his bounds. No matter the spiritual power any minister or Christian has, he is just a tool in the hand of God. Every spiritual gift must therefore be used responsibly in humility. No matter how anointed you are, you’re still a human being! Even when human beings celebrate you, you must be mature and humble enough not to forget your Source. You must not assume too much; you must not try to play god especially in the lives of your followers or those around you.
Moses, in his ministry, at a time manifested some element of spiritual pride in response to the provocative behavior of the Israelites he was leading. Moses forgot that God, and not him, gave the Israelites water from the rock to drink. He struck the rock twice when he was only supposed to speak to it. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.’ So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (Numbers 20:7-11 NKJV).
Moses, in particular, should have known better considering the intimacy he enjoyed with God. How dare he say, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Was Moses together with Aaron responsible for bringing out water from the rock? It was God – both the first time in Exodus 17: 5-7 when God asked him to strike the rock and he did on this occasion. This second time, Moses and Aaron took credit for giving the people water and not God.
Secondly, it was wrong for Moses to have called the Israelites rebels though they were! But it wasn’t Moses’ job to pass judgment on them; only God could do that. God alone could call them rebels. That was spiritual pride on the part of Moses, and this great blunder stopped Moses and Aaron from entering Canaan. Never get too familiar with God that you take His instructions for granted or feel more righteous than others.
Many are obsessed with the praise of men. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43 KJV). Don’t seek the praise of men. Just face what God has called you to do whether men praise you or not. And don’t expect God to be praising you for helping Him because you’re doing exploits for God. God won’t join your choir of praise singers now! There is still much work for you to do. The time for real reward is not now.
Luke 17:10 says when we have done all those things which we are commanded, we should say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (NKJV). Whatever blessings you enjoy now cannot be compared to the rewards ahead. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12 NKJV). Beware of spiritual pride; it destroys.
After many years of great exploits in the faith, Paul remained a humble person whose confidence continued to be God. Hear what he said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Philippians 3:13-15 NKJV).
If he had been like many ministers of God today, he would have been so full of himself blowing his own trumpet and surrounding himself with sycophants. But Paul didn’t. He said, “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NKJV). Did you see that? Is that what you do or do you present yourself as a superman?
Paul means little or small, and like his name, he remained a little man, a small man. He called himself the least of the apostles. “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9 NKJV). Paul would not boast about himself or his exploits rather he chose to boast in Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul talked about Christ and his boast in him. Here was a man who had a lot to boast about but he wouldn’t. In fact, as said in that Scripture, because of the depth of revelations that Paul had, God had to give him a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him to prevent him from becoming proud. What exactly this thorn was is not clear. Bible scholars have suggested different things but what is important is that this thorn successfully kept Paul humble.
In 2 Corinthians 11:22-29, Paul made himself vulnerable speaking of the weakness he had like others. He didn’t present himself as a superman or a superstar. No, he showed himself as a man with human frailties, a man of like passion. He didn’t create a larger-than-life image of himself.
Earlier in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul had spoken about his weakness, fear, and trembling when he came to minister to them. His speech and preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that the people’s faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
But we boast today about our church building projects, the number of branches we have, the size of our churches, the number of services we hold on Sunday, the annual budget of our ministries, the size of our schools, the number of our universities, etc. But did Jesus Christ, Paul, and the early apostles make such boasts? Would they be making such boasts if they were alive today? When you boast, you’re saying you did it. But if it’s God who did it through you, where is your pride?
After all the phenomenal missionary work of Paul, far above what any of the original apostles did, he didn’t take credit for it. Rather he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:10-11 NKJV).
Symptoms of spiritual pride
i. Comparing oneself with others. A minister of God may compare himself with another minister or a Christian with another. He feels he is more righteous, spiritual, holier, more anointed, more prayerful, etc. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,’ God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11-12 NKJV).
Comparing yourself with others is not the Spirit of the Kingdom of God. Everybody is to run to the race set before him (Hebrews 12:1). “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV). Comparing yourself with others is not wise; it is foolishness.
ii. Eagerness to point out and talk about others’ sins. The Pharisee in Luke 18 was quick to point out that the tax collector was a cheat, a sinner, and an adulterer. All this may be true about this tax collector because he didn’t dispute it. In fact, he acknowledged his sinfulness and said, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13). But the Bible asks us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The tax collector could be said to have been more righteous than the Pharisee in that he told the truth about who he was – a sinner. On the other hand, the Pharisee was a hypocrite claiming to be who he wasn’t. He was a kettle calling pot black. He saw the speck in the eyes of the tax collector but feigned ignorance of the log of wood in his own eyes.
Hear what Jesus said: “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-42 NKJV). To the accusers of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7-8 NKJV). God does not want the sinner to be humiliated but that the sinner will come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
iii. Boasting of one’s spiritual activities, exploits, gifts, etc. Those who do this minimize the work of Jesus on the cross and maximize their own work of self-righteousness. The Pharisee in Luke 18 boasted about fasting twice a week and giving the tenth of his income. That was the basis of his self-confidence. But God doesn’t justify anyone based on his works. That was why the sinner who acknowledged his sin went home justified. Fasting for forty, sixty, etc. days (either dry fasting or other types) praying for long hours or for days, and other spiritual activities and feats are good but they must never be the basis of anyone’s confidence.
In Philippians 3:3-9, Paul listed his credentials which ordinarily he should have been proud of but he would rather boast about what Christ Jesus has done for him and not have confidence in himself. He chose not to engage in spiritual pride.
iv. Critical attitude and judgmental spirit. Spiritually proud people are fond of criticizing and judging people including fellow Christians. God hasn’t given His children the ministry of criticizing and judging others. Our job now is to live a holy life and help others to do the same – not to supervise and monitor anyone’s life and begin to point out their faults.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (NKJV). But spiritually proud people don’t do this. When they criticize and pass judgment on others, it is not with a view to restoring them but to present themselves as more righteous and have an advantage over them. But Paul warns, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge” (James 4:11 NKJV).
v. Seeking the praise of men and submission or worship. Spiritually proud people cannot accommodate those who don’t give them praise and submission. These people may not have started like this but they probably changed when they started getting results and attracting people’s attention.
Jesus didn’t get carried away by the praise of men. He was well focused on his purpose. Be careful. Those who cry “Hosanna” today may tomorrow cry “Crucify him”
vi. I-Know-it-all attitude. Spiritual pride is at work when one feels that one is always right and therefore cannot be corrected. Such a person does not admit his or her faults.
An unteachable spirit is a manifestation of spiritual pride. People who walk in this spirit don’t listen to others but themselves; they worship their own opinions because that’s the only correct thing! They always surround themselves with weak people or people who will say “yes” to them whether they’re right or wrong. They label as rebels those who dare to ask them questions. That’s not right.
“I–know –it –all” attitude, even if you’re the boss, will destroy you because your subordinates won’t talk even when they see danger ahead of you. Don’t tolerate the “I–know –it –all” attitude in your life. Romans 12:16b says you should not be wise in your own opinion. According to the New Living Translation, “Don’t think you know it all!” (Romans 12:16b NLT) Only God knows everything, and you’re not God. Therefore be tolerant of others’ opinions – it doesn’t mean they’re right. If they’re wrong, correct them. And if you’re the one wrong, be humble to admit it and correct yourself.
In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul talks about how he publicly corrected Peter for acting hypocritically – initially, Peter ate with the Gentile Christians not circumcised but afterward, when some Jewish friends of James came, Peter refused to eat with them anymore because he was afraid of what these new people who had just arrived, the legalists, would say. The sad thing was that other Jewish Christians and Barnabas, Paul’s partner, were influenced by Peter’s action. Peter was the leader of the apostles but Paul still corrected him when he was wrong.
Ministry or church leaders should, in addition to the Holy Spirit, have other leaders who can correct them when they’re wrong. It is dangerous not to have anyone around you or in your life who can correct you if you’re wrong. Don’t surround yourself with “yes people”. This is different from someone who has a critical spirit.
vii. Looking down on others. Having a superiority complex. This manifests in the inability to work with or accommodate those lower than one because of one’s grace, anointing, or divine endowment. Romans 14:10 asks, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (NKJV).
The Bible likens the body of Christ to the human body where there are different parts both small and big and each performs different functions for the good of the entire body. No part can do without the other parts. “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (1 Corinthians 12:21-23 NKJV).
It is a sin to look down on anyone either a Christian or non-Christian because we need each other and one another. Job 36:5a says, “Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one” (NKJV). If God, as great as He is, doesn’t despise anyone, who are you to do so? Are you as big as God?
Don’t feel too big to walk and work with those you think you’re above spiritually. This is spiritual pride. You’ll be surprised that there is something they have that you don’t have, and you can be of mutual benefit to each other. Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (NLT) You don’t know it all; you don’t have it all. The New King James Version renders Romans 12:16 thus: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”
viii. Feeling that one is a better Christian than others because of one’s church (or denomination) or the spiritual leader – pastor, bishop, etc. – one is attached to. “My church is better than yours; my bishop is more anointed than yours” This is spiritual pride. Paul had to scold the Corinthians for engaging in this kind of divisive boast. “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13 NKJV).
No church, pastor, bishop, or arch-bishop saves. Your bishop or prophet did not die for you – Jesus did. The most powerful spiritual leader is still a human being. Speaking about himself and another minister of God, Paul said, “So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s secrets” (1 Corinthians 4:1 NLT). Your pastor or bishop – if he is real – didn’t anoint himself. God gave him his anointing and power. So what is your pride about?
Hear again Apostle Paul: “Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to the Scriptures, you won’t brag about one of your leaders at the expense of another. What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT). No matter how great your church is, it is not heaven. Support your church and your spiritual leader but please shun prideful attitudes that divide the church.
ix. Seeking attention and being intolerant of people and places that do not give them public recognition. Spiritually proud people seek attention because they are self-centred. Diotrephes is a Bible character who had this bad character. Paul says, “I sent a brief letter to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, does not acknowledge our authority” (3 John 9 NLT). The New King James Version ays Diotrephes loved to have preeminence in the church. He loved to be the leader, and the truth is you cannot lead everywhere and every time.
You must learn to follow wherever and whenever somebody else has to lead. But spiritually proud people can’t cheerfully follow. Rather they will frustrate those leading whenever they are not the one leading perhaps to prove that they’re the best leader. What a delusion!
In addition to doing some negative things and speaking wicked things, Diotrephes did other bad things: “He himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church” (3 John 10b NKJV). That is how spiritually proud people behave. If you’ve noticed this in your life, you must repent.
How to overcome spiritual pride
1. Engage in continuous self-examination. Rather than being concerned about exposing and talking about the sins of others, a Christian should continuously search his own life; he should be looking at the log in his own eyes than the speck in the eyes of others. The Christian walk is a sober one. Philippians 2:12 says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (NKJV). Nobody has attained yet so no genuine Christian should be excited to talk about the fall of another believer. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).
Don’t think you’re bigger, better, greater than others. Constantly examine yourself for your weak points, and this will purge you of spiritual pride. “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:3-5 NKJV).
2. Repent and forsake. Spiritual pride is a sin, and like every sin, it should be confessed and forsaken. Don’t rationalize it; don’t spiritualize it. Be sincere; don’t be a hypocrite. God sees your heart. He knows whether or not there is spiritual pride there. The sin you don’t repent and forsake will become your master. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10 NKJV). Repent, so that you don’t perish (Luke 13:5).
3. Submit to authority. One mark of spiritual pride is rebellion against authority. This can happen because of the high or prominent office one is occupying, the exploits one is making and the attendant fame, the special gifts one has, etc. But no matter the height God has taken you and how great He is using you, you must remain under authority. Lucifer fell because he rebelled against authority.
King Uzziah, who became king of Judah at 16 years and reigned for 52 years, suffered the same fate. He started well by doing what was right in the sight of the Lord but the success God permitted him to have, entered his head (2 Chronicles 26:3-23). Verse 15 says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (NKJV). But what happened after this? “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense” (verse 16).
Every attempt by Azariah the priest and other eighty priests of the Lord to discourage him from burning incense to the Lord, an assignment meant for priests who were the sons of Aaron consecrated to burn incense, failed (verses 17-18). And for rebelling against God by failing to submit to the authority of the priests and intruding into the office of a priest, God’s judgment came upon Uzziah. He became leprous and consequently couldn’t enter the house of God from that time. He lived and died in isolation. He couldn’t even be buried where kings were buried (verses 19-23).
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (NKJV).
God’s Word is clearly against disobedience to constituted authority because those in authority are God’s representatives even if they are non-believers (Romans 13:6-7). Colossians 3:22 says, “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God” (NKJV). God will hold both the servant and those they are serving, the followers and the leaders, accountable for what they do.
The same thing the Bible tells children as regards obeying their parents. “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 NKJV). Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 also tell wives to submit to their own husbands. Those under authority cannot do whatever they like; no matter the exploits they’re making and the special gifts they have, they must submit to the authority above them for their own preservation. The only exception for disobeying authority is if the instructions given are contrary to the Word of God – God’s Word is superior to the word of any man. Therefore, the same principle applies – the word of man must submit to the Word of God. Anyone who rebels against authority as a result of spiritual pride will soon go into extinction.
4. Have an accountability partner. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (NKJV). If you notice some symptoms of spiritual pride in you, discuss it with your accountability partner – a Christian leader or a mature Christian friend who together you can be praying on this issue and be evaluating the progress you’re making in your strategies for overcoming this sin. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 NIV).
Remember that all Christians are members of the same body of Christ. So what affects one affects all. “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NKJV). Don’t pretend you’re alright while Satan is destroying you secretly. Be authentic; be real! But be sure your accountability partner is a genuine Christian who you can confide in and not one who will make you a subject of gossip.
5. Be teachable. Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (NKJV). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn more.” Don’t have an ungovernable attitude; be teachable. Don’t feel you know it all. Because spiritually proud people hardly know they are proud, anyone who has a teachable spirit will be able to correct his faults if any symptom of spiritual pride is pointed out in his life. He will not be defensive or rationalize it but quickly amend his ways.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, taught Moses the principle of delegated authority in judging the Israelites thereby saving him from burnout. Moses became more effective (Exodus 18:13-24). If Moses wasn’t teachable, he could have rebuffed Jethro. Spiritual pride won’t make some people receive guidance from others or learn from others especially those more knowledgeable than they are. I’m not talking about surrendering your destiny to others to control. Profit from godly counsel – nobody knows it all.
If Bethsheba had not listened to the godly of Prophet Nathan, the kingdom wouldn’t have been turned over to Solomon, her son, when Adonijah had already been proclaimed king without the knowledge and approval of David (1 Kings 1:11-14).
Bathsheba was a wise woman; she did exactly what the prophet said, and his counsel turned out to be God’s leading. Solomon was eventually anointed king while David was still alive. Adonijah’s ambition was aborted.
Also, it was because Ruth listened to the counsel of Naomi, her mother-in-law, that she got married again. (Ruth 2:22-23) But while you must be teachable, be careful who your teachers are. “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21 NKJV). The New Living Translation says, “The godly give good advice, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.” Verse 31 says, “The godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off” (NLT).
Rehoboam acted on a wrong counsel rejecting the right counsel, and the kingdom was divided under him (1 Kings 12). Not all that everybody says is right. And those you respect their counsel can miss it too. Therefore every counsel must pass the test of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Jesus rebuked Peter for correcting him that God forbid that he should suffer and die as he had said, a correction contrary to God’s purpose for Jesus’ life. “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:23 NKJV). The New Living Translation renders “You are an offense to Me” as “You are a dangerous trap to me.”
6. Receive honour with humility. I believe that the higher you go, the more humility you need. Christians, especially Christian leaders, should beware of spiritual pride. No wonder 1 Timothy 3:6 says a bishop must not be “a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (NKJV).
“An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall” (NLT).
Spiritual leaders must ensure that the honour people give them doesn’t go to their heads. They should receive with humility the honour people give them else it will destroy them. If the honour people give you makes you proud, it is not their fault; it’s yours. Don’t mistake the love and submission of your followers for your irreplaceability.
Herod died a mysterious death for acknowledging the flattery that his voice was the voice of God and not that of man. An angel of the Lord struck him, worms ate him and he died (Acts 12:21-23). Don’t accept people’s flattery. Don’t believe people’s words intended to give you a larger-than-life figure. Accept honour with humility.
After Paul had healed a man crippled from his mother’s womb in Lystra – the man had never walked – the people declared,
“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” (Acts 14:11NKJV). “These men are gods in human bodies!” ( NLT). The people were amazed believing that only the gods could have done that. Therefore they named Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to the gates to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.
Did Paul and Barnabas support what they did? Did they feel on top of the world enjoying it as Herod did? No. They tore their clothing in dismay and ran out to stop them telling them they were men like them preaching to them the word of God. Paul and Barnabas didn’t say they were gods. No matter how much anointing, grace, etc. you have, you must remain a human being. Don’t call yourself a god to be worshipped.
When Peter came to the house of Cornelius in Acts 10, Cornelius fell to the floor before him in worship. “But Peter lifted him up, saying,”Stand up; I myself am also a man’” (Acts 10:26 NKJV). Cornelius got up, and they talked together and went inside where the others were assembled. Peter didn’t feel superior to Cornelius who was even a gentile and wasn’t yet saved. He wasn’t proud despite being the leader of all the apostles. Where do we Christians and church leaders learn our pride? Why do we want our followers to worship us? This is spiritual pride. That pride wasn’t in the early church. We certainly need to repent. There is nothing you have that you didn’t receive from God (1 Corinthians 4:7).
7. Pray without ceasing. Continuous prayer is essential in overcoming spiritual pride. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matthew 7:7-10 NKJV).
In other words, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks” (Matthew 7:7-9 NLT). Everybody is vulnerable to spiritual pride. Therefore, you should pray every day, “Lord make me humble and keep me so.” Once you’re conscious you’re humble, you may have lost it. May the Lord keep you humble and you won’t even be aware of it.
Conclusion: God is looking for those who are humble to use. If God doesn’t use you, it won’t be important who is using you. Don’t be too big that God can’t use you. And if God must continue to use you, you must ensure you remain small like Paul and similar servants of God and Christians in contemporary history otherwise you become an ex-servant of God, an ex-worker. May that not be your portion in Jesus’ name.
I believe that if you’ll act on all the points I’ve shared with you in this message, you’ll begin to see the desired change in your life, a life of humility.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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