Romans 11:19-23 (ESV)
Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
What is the cure to pride?
In our natural, sinful selves, most of us have a tendency to become proud. It may not be pride as you often think of it either, but something more insidious and subtle.
Obvious pride is someone who walks around with their head held high, willing to promote to any and all their high station in life, be that learning, or wealth, or good looks, or many other things. Pride can even be the monk who walks down the street in 15 year old tattered robes, proud he is living a ‘holy life’ above all the ‘common rabble’. Pride comes in many forms.
But there is a more subtle pride, the pride of salvation.
Walking down the street you might see a guy with a cigarette in one hand, bottle of cheap wine in the other, drunk and swearing at a lamp post – and you think to yourself, thank God I am not like that man.
Driving to church you see a guy shoot past you on the freeway in his expensive European convertible, hair blowing in the wind so all the world can see him and his car and his riches, and you say thank God I am saved, not like that sinner.
After church you talk with friends and hear the latest gossip about an elder caught doing wrong, and you say to your friends thank God I am a true Christian, and don’t do those things.
Do you see it? Subtle, insidious pride sneaking into our lives. We become proud that we are saved, and therefore we are ‘better’ than everyone else because of it. Yes, maybe we do have higher moral standards – but what are they really? Yes, we do honor God (or at least think we do), but why do we do it?
We do it because we were saved by Jesus Christ, when there was nothing that we could have done to save ourselves. We were, and some of us still are, dirty, rotten sinners. There was nothing at all that God would want from us, because there was no value left in us at all. It was only at His work, at His call that a way was made for us to become the people we are today. And yet, there is a path back to that life of sin and condemnation – spiritual pride.
So remember, it was not you who saved yourself – but Jesus. And it is not you who maintains and guides your life – it is Jesus. It was not you that made you a ‘good person’ – it is only by the blood of Jesus that we have been freed from our sins, and it is through the blood of Jesus that the rest of the world can be freed as well.
Lord God, help us not to be proud of our salvation, as if it was something we achieved through our own strength and will. Teach us what it truly means to be humble, and direct all glory to you, in Jesus Name, Amen.