How to Fight the Sin of Pride, Especially When You Are Praised
Ten Things I Do
- I call to mind that I am not self-existent; only the triune God is. Only God is absolute, but I am contingent. I remind myself that I am utterly dependent on God for my origin and for my present and future existence. I call this to mind and ponder its truth.
- I remember that I am by nature a depraved sinner and that, in all my sinning, I have treated God with contempt, preferring other things to his glory. I take stock that I have never done a good deed for which I don’t need to repent. Each one is flawed because perfection is commanded. Therefore I realize that God owes me nothing but pain in this life and the next.
- I ponder that this condition of mine is so desperate that it could only be remedied at the cost of the horrid death of the Son of God, to bear my punishment and provide my righteousness. And I revel in the forgiveness and righteousness that is mine in Christ.
- I meditate on those Scriptures that say, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:5–6; see James 4:6–10). And, “He who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Luke 9:48; Mark 9:35; Matthew 20:26).
- I pray that the eyes of my heart would see these biblical truths for what they really are.
- I ask God to make me not just see them but also feel them with a sense of the meekness and lowliness and brokenness that corresponds to their true weight.
- I renounce desires for praise and notoriety and esteem when I see them rising. I say, “No! In the name of Jesus get out of my head!” And I turn my mind afresh with prayer toward the beauty and truth and worth of Christ.
- I try to receive all criticism — from friend or foe — with the assumption that there is almost certainly some truth in it that I can benefit from. “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
- I strive to cultivate a joy in Christ and his wisdom and power and justice and love that is more satisfying than the pleasures of human praise, with the goal that, by the Spirit, I would be granted the miracle of self-forgetfulness in the admiration of Christ, and in love toward people.
Finally, I turn often to older writers who knew God at depths which
most of us modern people seem incapable of. I turn, for example, to
Jonathan Edwards whose descriptions of humility awaken the deepest longings
in me, as, for example, when he wrote to Mrs. Peperell on November 28,
1751, concerning Christ:
He is indeed possessed of infinite majesty, to inspire us with reverence and adoration; yet that majesty need not terrify us, for we behold it blended with humility, meekness, and sweet condescension. We may feel the most profound reverence and self-abasement, and yet our hearts be drawn forth sweetly and powerfully into an intimacy the most free, confidential, and delightful. The dread, so naturally inspired by his greatness, is dispelled by the contemplation of his gentleness and humility; while the familiarity, which might otherwise arise from this view of the loveliness of his character merely, is ever prevented by the consciousness of his infinite majesty and glory; and the sight of all his perfections united fills us with sweet surprise and humble confidence, with reverential love and delightful adoration. (Works, Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth), p. cxxxix)
Longing to forget me, and treasure Christ, and love you,