I played basketball in high school for a very good program, one that won more games in the 1990s than any other high school program in Indiana. On our reversible practice jerseys were the words “Respect” on one side and “Pride” on the other.
Those were themes our coaches stressed repeatedly. Have respect for every opponent you face, but also have pride in your abilities and your team.
I don’t think there was anything necessarily wrong with those ideas. But they did open up the door to the bad kind of pride and bravado that are bad traits.
Spiritually, pride is a serious issue. Scripture speaks to its dangers time and time again, even repeating several times across several different authors that ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Our small group ‘flock’ at church last night studied this issue of pride.
One passage we looked at was one I hadn’t realized related to this topic, Psalm 119. It’s widely know for being the longest chapter in the Bible. It’s also famous for it’s descriptions of God’s Word and Law. When you study it closer, you find out it is one big Hebrew acrostic, with each stanza beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And now I realize it also offers some great insight into the problem of pride. In fact, it offers us a solution to the pride problem that all people struggle with.
It repeatedly contrasts the pride and proud people with the author who cherishes God’s Word. Vs. 21, 51, 69, 78, 85 all focus on this contrast. What that teaches me is, God’s Word is the answer to our problem of pride. Loving God’s Word will neutralize any sinful pride in our hearts. Embracing God’s Word is the key to humility.
Sure there have been many examples of Bible-believing Christians who have created a lot of damage in their ‘fight for Truth’. But do they truly love God’s Word or do they love their positions about or from God’s Word. Love for God’s Word creates a thirst to study in more and more. A love for the Word of God will lead us to the realization that it is complex and not always black-and-white. A love for Scripture will give us a desire to continually learn. A love for the Word of God will help us find answers and absolute truth, but it will also prevent us from thinking we have ALL the answers figured out. And a love for God’s Word will translate into living by God’s Word, as David says, “with my whole heart I keep your precepts” (119:69).
The more we love God’s Word, the more we will understand who God is. And the more we understand who God is, the more we will fall in love with Him. The more in love with God we are, the less in love with ourselves we will be and all semblances of pride will fade away from our hearts.