“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)
Pride cannot help but evoke comparison. “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are …” (Luke 18:11) The chief sin of the Pharisees was religious pride. They were in love with their own “spirituality.” A spiritual pride of life had taken hold of them, and as much as they professed having a superior quality of relationship with God and His Word, Jesus knew otherwise: “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42). “And ye have not his word abiding in you” (John 5:38)
Pride deceives the heart. “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee …” (Obadiah 1:3) It convinces us we have something we do not have. It causes us to trust in ourselves, and what WE have more than another. Because the Pharisees were so enamored by their wisdom and righteousness they naturally despised others who were not where they thought they were. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9)
But the Lord made it clear who He considered to be right – not those who were lifted up and admiring themselves, but those who were lowly and looking to Him. “… For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
Surely, pride goes before a fall. Pride preceded the fall of Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness …” (Ezek. 28:17) Even one as solid as the apostle Paul was in danger of spiritual pride: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Cor. 12:7) Those most in danger of falling are those who think they can’t. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12)
The amazing thing about pride is that those who walk in it rarely see it. They are too captivated by their beauty, or goodness, or “rightness.” The works of the flesh are manifested in their life, but not to their eyes. They may believe they are fully walking in the Spirit. But the tell-tale signs of spiritual pride are evident to others. What are they? “Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies” (Gal. 5:20).
The Pharisees were quick to spot the sins of adultery and drunkenness. Uncleanness of the flesh is always much easier to detect than uncleanness of the spirit. But both defile and cause God to resist us.
Would we draw near to Him, so that He would draw near to us? Then we must come in complete brokenness, with an eye that only desires to behold His beauty, and extol Him. He has shown us what is good and what He requires of us – not only that we do justly, but that we also love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. A merciful heart is a humble heart, one that knows how much it owes to the gracious work of God, one that knows to give God the glory for the great things He has done.