Fighting Pride with Faith in Future Grace
This chapter is the second of eight practical chapters which address how we fight specific sins with faith in future grace. This one is about pride. It makes sense to deal with this one early in the book. Pride is “the root of every act of distrust toward God…it is the essence of unbelief.” Pride leads people to seek satisfaction in self rather than in God.
We exhibit pride when we think that all that we have and do is a result of our own wisdom, strength, and/or riches. Everything is a gift from God. One interesting idea (to me, at least) regards knowledge. Not only can we go wrong when we look to our own intelligence rather than to God for wisdom, but we also go wrong regarding the way in which we know something. All true knowing depends on God. In order to understand a thing the right way, then it needs to be known in relation to God, the Source of all knowing (as Piper puts it).
I think we all understand pride and arrogance pretty well. We can recognize it when we see it, but what about weak pride? Weak pride is pride that cannot attain what it desires and so it twists into self-pity.
Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the reponse of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.” Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing.
The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that is appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego and the desire of the self-pitying is not really for others to see them as helpless, but heroes. The need self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.
I’m far more guilty of weak pride than haughty pride. And this feeds into anxiety. One way we fight both kinds of pride is to humble ourselves and cast our cares on God. We humble ourselves by admitting that we have anxieties and cares and we cast our cares on God as a demonstration that we are not trusting in our own wisdom, strength, or riches.
Piper says that the “rock-bottom bibilical answer to the question how to best fight pride” is to “be stunned and satisfied that we know God — and that he knows us” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).