I have a problem. It is a sin I struggle with every single day. When I spend time in confession, I find that it has influenced my every sin. As I ponder my motives and desires I find that it has tainted virtually every thought I have and it certainly has tainted every sinful thought and longing. It has been my unwanted companion for as long as I can remember and I know it was with me prior to my awareness of its presence (my parents have told me stories!).
My problem is pride.
Pride is an inward thought and desire for self-exaltation. It tempts me to suppose that I am self-sufficient, independent, and even self-existent. My pride deceives me and entices me to chase after inclinations that are not and cannot be true.
And when my pride is vocalized, it becomes boasting. Not only does my pride consume me inwardly, but too often it is given words and my self-worship becomes evident to all.
Yet my problem is not unique to me. Observation and interaction tells me that my wrestling with pride and boasting is common to all men. And Scripture affirms the same thing. Pride was the driving force behind the first sin — and all sins after it. Pride fuels sin like tinder and oxygen fuel a fire. When pride ignites in the soul, it cannot be prevented from exploding from our mouths in a fireball of boasts, just as the Corinthians exemplified.
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul confronts a faction within the Corinthian church for their foolish boasting: “You are looking at things as they are outwardly…For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor 10:7, 12).
Their prime consideration was external circumstances and they evaluated themselves as superior to all other men, including Paul, the divinely appointed apostle. They compared themselves with others, commended themselves for their perceived superiority, and unashamedly proclaimed their supposed exaltation. They believed their spiritual progress and position was due to their own labors and their own abilities. Paul’s evaluation? They were without understanding.
This condition in the Corinthian church led one commentator to ask, “Why did the Corinthians continue to be enamored of men, simply a form of self-adulation, when in fact their spiritual vitality was due to the grace of God?” The reason is simple: the pervasive nature of pride. Pride infuses and drives every sin and every ungodly desire. And until a man reckons himself to be permeated by pride, his boasting tongue will not be quieted.
So Paul exhorts both the Corinthians and us to consider this further antidote: “he who boasts is to boast in the Lord” (v. 17). One way to defeat pride and self-exaltation is to sit in the presence of the One who really is exalted and learn to boast of Him and not of ourselves.
When you and I are tempted with prideful thoughts and self-worshipful words today, we do well to humbly consider the work of God and the throne from which He rules. And then we will close our mouths from speaking foolishly prideful words and rather we will worshipfully boast of the Lord’s great work.