Christ Died For Our Hidden Pride

by: Pastor Josh Harbin

This past Sunday I preached on humility and how it plays such an important role in the Christian life, especially as we begin to use our gifts of faith in the church (see Romans 12:1-8).

I touched on the idea that pride could be hidden in our lives. Most of the time when I think about pride my mind immediately moves to thinking more of my self than I should. However, what if pride could also be rooted in thinking too little of oneself?

Getting Personal

At many points in my life, I have allowed self-loathing thoughts to creep into my mind and wreak havoc. These thoughts include, but are not limited to: “These people don’t need me, they are just fine the way they are”, “I just have accepted that I can’t…and I’m ok with that”, “I’m fine on my own”, “No one understands”, “There is no sense in trying to do it again, I don’t need that kind of pain in my life”. There have been days that I was so worried about whether or not people thought I was enough, that I just wanted to stay in bed. These thoughts have been painful, and have even lead to depression.

How are these thoughts prideful though? I am certainly NOT thinking more highly of myself. In fact, I’m thinking just the opposite. I am thinking LESS of myself. But is that the point of humility?

The Rule of Opposites

You see, I think we often over-simplify life and follow the rule of opposites. For example, the antonym of kindness is mean-spirited, therefore if kindness is helping someone across the street, then tackling them to the curb would be mean. Right? UNLESS you were saving them from being hit by an oncoming car.

Same with pride, we often think that in order to combat pride (thinking more highly of ourselves) we should do the opposite (think less of ourselves). Now while this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it is predominately unhealthy. C.S. Lewis, in his book “The Screwtape Letters”, reminds us that this type of thinking is often the starting point for a more pride-filled life, “Self-contempt can be made the starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.”

Pride hides in the shadows of self-contempt. This inward turning is not only unhealthy; it is sin against God. We were not created to worship ourselves; we were made to worship God. To do anything other than our intended purpose is against the creator’s plan. Our hearts are “idol factories” and they are always seeking something to idolize. When we become self-deprecating, self-loathing, or even generally inwardly focused, we begin the process of making an idol of self.

Worship is the Antidote.

Scripture calls us to idolize Christ (Exodus 20:3-5). He is worthy of our idolization (Psalm 145:3). God worship is the antidote to our desire problem. Pastor Louie Giglio states that “Worship is our response both personal and corporate, to God for who He is and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live”. The worship of God should be the sound track of our lives. We live, eat, breathe, sleep, work, and play for something every day, and that something is Jesus Christ. We find our value and our worth in him (Gen. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Worship isn’t just something we do (like singing); it’s a posture we have. In every activity we engage in we must be fully submitted to Christ. This posture is total dependence on God, seeing every moment as a gift from above. There is no room for self-loathing in from a position of sold out God-worship. Self-pride and worship of God cannot co-exist; one always trumps the other.

Our worship of God is magnified by the reality that Christ died for our pride. God did not want to be separated from us. He knew that our self-critical, self-deprecating, self-exalting, self-focused souls needed renewal. He knows that we will never find joy by looking inward, but gave us a way to look upward. But first, Christ would take all of our pride upon himself, and carry it to the cross, dying with the weight of our sin on him. This act of love is the representation of true humility. It is now by the blessing of the Holy Spirit that our minds can be renewed, our boasting can turn to the cross, and our joy can be found in Christ. God is the author of all good things, and He loved and valued us so much that he calls us his sons and daughters. We are made in the image of the most high God. As beloved creatures of an almighty God, we have access to forgiveness and glory through the cross. Christ died for your hidden pride. Lay it down and recognize your value. 

Practical Application:

Meditate this week: Isaiah 26:8 “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

Sing to Lord this week: Find a quiet place and sing to the Lord the song of your heart. Don’t think about anyone but him. Give it all you got!

Pray & Remember this week: Remember that Christ died for your pride. He died so that your pride could never separate you from God. Get on your knees and spend time thanking God for this mercy that you get to live out.

Share this week: When God is doing something in your heart, don’t hide it. Find someone to share it with this week. Strike up a conversation with a co-worker, a friend, a teammate, or even a stranger. Let your love for Christ pour out fearlessly. He is why we live. To God be the glory!



Join the Conversation: Good Grief!

(our summer series inviting conversation and connection. Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter)

My mother died on July 14. A week later, I visited my father’s graveside in Ft. Logan National Cemetery for the first time since he passed. A dear friend just returned from a graveside visit to a mentor who passed in a tragic car accident. One of our church-family members just lost her grandmother. Death and grief are a part of life.

The loss of loved ones grows more real and present the older I get, and it exposes a unique loneliness in me.

Each situation is laced with joy and gladness as they sleep in faith with the Lord and await the glorious resurrection. That is the good news. They truly rest in a better place (though those words are no help on heels of a loss) and I can assent to it being a goodness amidst the grief.

Yet, there are obvious aspects of grief that are very uncomfortable and hard, though maybe goodness can be found there too. An obvious emptiness and sadness attends losing people we love. It wouldn’t be sad if they hadn’t made a meaningful impact on our lives. Their departure leaves a hole.

The hole is not only their absence, but how it exposes a deeper loneliness. In the case of parents and grandparents, it is the loss of people that knew us from the beginning. They set us in motion and loved us when we had nothing to give, but a cry, a mess and a smile. They showed us our first glimpse of unconditional, life-giving love.

Their loss tears at our roots – the roots of being known, loved and connected. Certainly we can busy ourselves with more people, and we can build other significant relationships to stay connected and experience love. Building new connections is good, but it can be a mechanism to hide as well. Hiding from the lonely reality that foundational relationships are undeniably absent for now doesn’t feel authentic or redeeming to me.

I believe the loneliness exposes a root desire for deep connection. There is goodness in the grief if we face it. My loneliness exposes a desire to be known and loved at my core. Though, the people that knew and valued me from the beginning are gone. I still want all of me to be deeply known. I want to be loved and accepted for who I am. That is a lonely grief and it is hard, lest we deny it and hide from it.

Henri Nouwen says: “The task is not to escape your loneliness, nor to let it drown you, but to find it’s source. … With your heart you must search for that place without fear.”

In this sense, I see the loneliness as a gift to be opened and explored, though it is hard to sit with. I’m finding the loneliness exposes in me a relational desire that not even the most intimate earthly relationship can fully satisfy, though they are so important. I feel the pain of grief and it’s loneliness driving me to more essential and eternal things. It seems to be leading me to God – to know him more intimately. It’s calling me to trust that in His knowing me, in His love for me, in His presence, in welcoming Him into my loneliness, there is more — more healing, more hope and a more satisfying, joyful relationship that transcends what we can know on a merely human level.

There is no fear in pursuing this, though it comes with some pain and letting go (for now) of those who have loved us well. Exploring “that place” referred to by Nouwen leads us to a deeper relationship with God, a good place, and a joyful connection.

I’d love to connect, share your thoughts.