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This past Sunday we completed our study of 1 Peter by examining 5:6-14. Verse 6 reads, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” So clearly, Peter was confronting the presence of pride in his readers, both then and now.
In my sermon I defined pride as “the incessant, insidious inclination of our hearts to credit ourselves with what only God can achieve, and thereby become idolators, worshipping ourselves and calling on others to worship us too!” It is incessant because it is a result of the Fall. It is insidious because it claims God’s glory as its own.
Along with being incessant and insidious, it is also very crafty, extremely cunning, and far too common in us than we realize. Pride is crafty. It can disguise itself as maturity, spirituality, and even humility! Pride is cunning. It comes to us in hundreds of hidden, unseen ways. For these reasons, pride is far more common in us than we realize. Why it even appears in us in the most unlikely of circumstances!
Take 1 Peter 5:6 for example. Remember that Peter is writing to believers who are enduring horrible persecution for their faith, which has resulted in heavy suffering. In fact, Peter himself will describe their situation as a “fiery trial.”
Now think about this for a minute. There are many of our brothers and sisters around the world today who endure very harsh persecution and suffering. Can you imagine sitting in a room filled with broken and bruised saints? Can you imagine that you are given the task of exhorting and encouraging them? Can you imagine them clinging to your every word for hope? Now, can you imagine telling them to humble themselves?!?
I’ve been in rooms similar to the one I’ve just described, and thinking that these dear people may be dealing with pride did not enter my mind. Yet, that’s exactly where Peter goes. Can you imagine a pride so incessant, insidious, crafty, and cunning that it would take suffering for the faith as an occasion for boasting? Can you imagine a suffering saint being “puffed up” and looking down on those saints with fewer scars? Can you imagine boasting in suffering, not in the sense that the apostles did in Acts or that Paul did in Galatians that gave glory to God, but in the sense of exalting self?
You and I better believe it! And we better take Peter’s words to heart - “be sober-minded. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (5:8)
Yes, pride can slip into our hearts in the most unlikely of ways, and therefore, we must always be on the lookout, allowing the Word, the Spirit, and other believers to watch over our souls, and pursue humility by faith, believing God will lift us up higher than we ever could!