Many of us seem to think our greatest enemy is the Devil. Some think it’s their nemesis in real life. A few think it’s time that has turned against them. In reality, our greatest enemy is none of these. It’s our pride.
Satan can’t do anything to you that God doesn’t allow Him to do. Job makes that very clear; God tells Satan how far he can go and he has no choice but to obey. He can’t make us sin. He can’t do anything to us without God’s permission. Likewise, others can’t force you into things or do things to you that God didn’t allow. He won’t control their actions, but He does have power over the effects of their actions and has decided to allow them. And He controls time as well, so that He could give you 15 more years as He gave Hezekiah or take you today.
One thing He has chosen not to control is your free will, and the greatest impediment to choosing Him with that will is your pride. Pride affects many areas of our lives, but I want to focus on four major ones: forgiveness, not sharing our burdens, sins, and not pursuing God.
Before we get to these four areas, though, we should look at where our pride comes from. I think it can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. The serpent told Adam and Eve they weren’t good enough and that God was holding out on them. They let pride sneak in and tell them they should be in on all of God’s secrets. They wouldn’t have had this pride, though, if they believed they were good enough already and that God was truly loving and holy. They doubted their worth and His goodness, which are the two necessary ingredients for pride.
Pride is not really being full of yourself so much as it is seeking to fill yourself. When we’re proud, we may have a lot of good things going on in our lives. It’s not enough to have these things, though; those around us must be aware how that we have them. We could also tell ourselves that we deserve what we don’t have or that whatever power we believe in – whether God, the Universe (which seems to be just a way to say God without the implications of moral judgment), or whatever else – wants us to have it. We tell ourselves that we know better than God and that His will matters less than our will.
You can also have abundant humility, which is pride sneaking in subtly. There are people who are proud of their humility, not realizing the irony of their situation.
True confidence has no need for pride or false humility. We’re more valuable than any number of accomplishments could ever make us, but we also recognize how little we deserve it. We’re not humble because that’s holy and right, but because we honestly recognize how great God is compared to us.
I’m not suggesting finding a middle ground between pride and false humility; I’m suggesting living with both an extreme view of your self-worth and an extreme humility at the same time. The result won’t even be a middle ground, but a higher ground, to where pride, even pride in your confidence, doesn’t exist. If you can remember that you are valuable enough to God that He would sacrifice His Son for you and that you are completely and utterly worthless without Him and doomed to Hell without His sacrifice, there will be no way for pride to rule your life. You will have both more value than you’ve been seeking and so much humility that you dare not dream of deserving what you’ve been given.