Devotional Week 3: Pride

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READ: James 3
MEMORY VERSE: “No human being can tame the tongue…” (James 3:8a).

Pride is a sin no one is immune from. Now, it may take different forms. Some of us struggle with boasting in our own abilities or gifts, while others have a hard time finding anything worthy in themselves. We see it in the person who will not stop talking at a party or meeting as well as the one who hides in the corner. The person at the center of attention finds worth and value in what others think, and the one in the corner believes they have no worth or value because of what others think. One has selfish ambition to make their name known; the other is jealous of those held in high esteem. The root issue for each person is pride.

James said, Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16). The thing about pride is that it can easily be shrugged off. We can look at others and be comforted, knowing we are not as bad as they are. “Look how arrogant they are. I am not like that.” Yet, in our self-righteous defense we show our pride—like the Pharisee in Luke 18, who said, “Thank you, God, for making me better than the tax collector.” But Jesus said it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went to his house justified that day.

It is easy to compare ourselves to others, but instead we should heed the words of James and show our works in the meekness of wisdom (v. 13). Arrogance and boasting are not just bad manners, they are sin that leads to destruction. “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (James 3:15). This might feel harsh, but James gets to the heart of the matter. When we indulge our pride, we elevate ourselves above God. We look in the mirror and deem the creation to be better than the creator (Romans 1:25).

This not only affects our relationship with God, it also destroys our relationships with those around us.

Perhaps you have experienced this with friends or coworkers. When we give in to bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, we put our needs and desires ahead of the needs of our neighbor. James said this is not how it is supposed to be. In fact, James was just applying Jesus’ words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) and actions, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12–14).

If pride exists as earthly wisdom, then humility is the wisdom from above. This wisdom is pure. It brings peace, gentleness, mercy, and good fruits. It is sincere, impartial, and open to reason. When it is sown in peace, it results in a harvest of righteousness. This is James’ version in Galatians 5:16–26. The wisdom of the world is the desires of the flesh, and the wisdom from above is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul ends Galatians 5 by saying, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24–26).

When we give in to pride, one of the outcomes is being unable to control our tongue. With it we boast in our accomplishments and curse those who are made in the image of God. And we can still think we are pursuing righteousness. The Pharisee did not think he was leaving the temple as a hypocritical liar. Nor did the people James was writing think they were chasing after selfish ambition. James says the same mouth that blesses God also curses people (v. 9). We must be vigilant to not view pride as a small sin or something that isn’t a big deal. When it begins to show itself in how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ we must stamp it out immediately by looking to Christ’s words and actions and asking God to give us the mind of Christ—wisdom from above.

QUESTION: How does pride manifest itself in your life? What steps do you take to catch it before it grows?
QUESTION: What encouragement do you find in this passage from James for your daily life?

DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Singing

Paul tells the church at Ephesus, But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:18b–20). It is easy for us to forget that the book of Psalms is a collection of songs meant to be sung or, at the very least, read poetically. It was the hymn book of the Israelites and the church for generations. So, take time today—in a quiet time or perhaps a family worship time—to sing. Do not let it be a secondary act; make it intentional. Choose a song you know the lyrics and music to and belt it out. Remind yourself of the Lord’s goodness through the mighty acts He has performed in your life and in the lives of His people. Be awed by His glory and revel in the fact that He has brought you out of a kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light.

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