If you live in the country you know that mice can get in the smallest, teeniest, tiniest crack there is. They can slip under a door or scurry through a small hole in the wall. They will find any area that has not been sealed properly. Even when you think you have everything boarded up tight, you will find that mice will often find a way in. Especially in the fall when it’s starting to get cold.
As I was finishing up the final chapter of a *Bible Study based on the book of James last week, there was a list of questions given at the end that made me realize that pride is just like that mouse. It slips in quietly, often unnoticed, in the unsealed places of our hearts and minds. We had spent the last several chapters of the study learning about biblical humility and pride. James does not mince words, as we can see in chapter 4, verses 6–
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
God resists the proud. And He gives grace to the humble. We already know this. But have we given thought recently to just how pride will slip in through even the smallest crack in our spiritual armor? It slithers in unbeknownst to us while we are patting ourselves on the back for not being prideful. It slides down into our hearts when we are least expecting it. Compliments and applaud and rewards make us even more vulnerable.
The more I study the Bible, the more I understand these three things: 1) how much God hates pride 2) just how deadly pride is to godly, righteous living and 3) how susceptible I am to it at all times.
As I worked on that final chapter and read through those questions, I thought that you all might appreciate this, as well. I think these questions are very revealing. They help us understand that pride isn’t simply boasting or having an arrogant attitude. It is so very much more than that, as we will see by this list of questions. At the end of the final chapter of his Bible Study on James, Steve Pettit says this–
Sometimes we view humility as the absence of outrageous vanity and boasting. But evaluating our pride should go much deeper than such surface observations. Consider the following questions (I have added a few comments in parentheses):
1. Am I a critical person?
2. Do I regularly question authority?
3. Do I make fun of weaker, less privileged people?
4. Do I treat people differently based on their status? (Or on their wealth or their position in the company where I work or their leadership role at church?)
5. Am I dissatisfied with God’s Word as sufficient for life and godliness? (Or do I crave a supernatural experience that will make me feel special and important?)
6. Do I make plans without making the Lord the center of my life?
7. Do I shift blame instead of taking responsibility for my actions? (Do I get defensive if someone confronts me?)
8. Do I widely proclaim my views but rarely listen? (At home, at work, at church, on the sidelines–am I more concerned with being heard or with hearing others?)
9. Do I hold grudges instead of extending forgiveness?
10. Do I put up a front instead of confessing my faults to those who can help? (Do I confess my sins to God? To others? Am I willing to humbly apologize?)
11. Do I pray sparingly? (Lack of prayer indicates that we believe we can do life on our own.)
I don’t know about you, but this is quite a list! How did you do? Were you as convicted as me?? Does this list help you recognize that pride is something very real in your life? That it has seeped into the cracks of your armor–even when you didn’t realize it? Like that tiny mouse or a slithering poisonous snake, it slides through the smallest crack and takes up residence in our heart before we even know it.
Pettit gives this final paragraph–
The point of these questions is not to drive you to simply to do better. Answering yes to some of these questions is the first step toward repentance and receiving God’s grace, because a humble person is honest. He understands what David confessed–that God wants us to have integrity in our hearts (Psalm 51:6). Recognizing spiritual unfaithfulness and pride does not mean we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It means running to Christ for superabundant grace. It means humbling ourselves to get back on the path of wisdom from above.
We have to face the fact that we can’t fix ourselves. In this day and age of self-help, we think we should be able to. Removing ourselves from the path of earthly, human wisdom means discarding our pride and putting on humility, recognizing that only God can give us the grace and strength we need for permanent change and righteous living.
And then we must remain in the Word and keep our eyes open because that deadly pride will slip in through the cracks once again, as soon as we leave even the slightest chink in our armor. We will see it when we argue with our spouse. It will crop up when someone criticizes something we did. And when we are tempted to criticize someone else. It rears its ugly head when we are hurt and rejected, when someone tells us what to do, when someone compliments us, or when we get too busy to pray. It is a constant danger to all believers and we must be on the lookout at all times.
So, over the next few days, let’s reflect on how pride tends to manifest itself in our own lives. Let’s ask the Lord to grow us in humility. Let’s be sure to keep our spiritual armor on (Ephesians 6:10-20), so that we may withstand those arrows of temptation thrown at us every day. And let’s thoroughly and regularly examine our spiritual armor for chinks and gaps so that– while we are busy defending ourselves from the “bigger sins”–pride doesn’t slip in, quiet as a mouse, and take up residence in our hearts.
*From Wisdom from Above: A Study in James by Steve Pettit