Crucifying Pride

Pastor Terry Tatum

For centuries during the Lenten season Christians have fasted from different things to help better prepare themselves to remember the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday. My way of explaining this is that if there is anything in your life that is keeping you from a full relationship with Christ, this is the season to make that right or get rid of it all together.  

As a family of believers we started a journey two weeks ago that will last the six Sundays of Lent. During our Crucified with Christ sermon series, we are looking at different areas of our lives that we need to crucify (get rid of) to have the full and proper relationship with Christ that God intended. 

Last week we Crucified Unbelief. Today we will be Crucifying Pride. In my opinion there are two kinds of pride:

1) The good kind where we give glory to God and not ourselves for the successes of our family, career, life, etc.  

2) The bad kind where we celebrate ourselves and our own accomplishments.

It doesn’t matter how right you are if you have the wrong heart, filled with the wrong kind of pride. 

In this message I’m going to share a passage of scripture with you that will help you understand pride, how Jesus wants us to handle things, and the need we all have to crucify our pride during this Lenten season. 

Before we get to that, let’s remember that our sermon series is focusing mainly on Luke chapter 9. In this chapter we see Jesus send out the 12 disciples to ministry, Peter confess who Christ is, the transfiguration, and a story about a boy being delivered from an evil spirit, among other amazing miracles. 

Great stuff, right? 

But then, after all of that, the very next thing that you’ll see is a heading that reads, Who Will Be the Greatest? 

That is not what I would expect to see next in Scripture after all the great things we just read. Here is that passage of Scripture, and through it we’re going to learn exactly how Jesus feels about pride:

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:46-48 NIV). 

Can you believe that, in the presence of the Son of God and in the middle of all the great things I just mentioned, the next line is, “an argument started among the disciples.” 

First, how could you have an argument in the presence of Jesus? Second, they were arguing about “which of them would be the greatest.” Really guys? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the disciples’ hearts and heads are not in the right place. 

In response, Jesus invites a little child to come and stand beside them and He says “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” 

Children had a very lowly position in Biblical times. In this passage, Jesus tells them to welcome the “least” among them and he elevates their status in a shocking way: “For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” 

What Jesus is really telling them is that they are asking the wrong questions. It shouldn’t be, “who is the greatest?” It should be, “who is willing to lower themselves to help the least of these?” 

Jesus is saying, “It’s not about you!”

And even after this response, without missing a beat, John says, “Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” (Luke 9:49 NIV) Jesus replies, “Do not stop him for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:50 NIV)

Clearly, John is so far away from what Christ is wanting for him. He doesn’t understand that it’s not about who gets the credit. The pride inside the disciples is coming out. It’s not about them (or us). It’s about what is being accomplished in the Kingdom, not who accomplished it. 

So, what is pride? The bad kind of pride is an unhealthy, exaggerated attention to self and an elevated view of one’s abilities, accomplishments, position, or possessions. Pride is putting the focus on You and not on God. 

Every one of us has done this. Some of us do this most of the time. This is not what God wants for you. Pride is a sin, and God hates it.  

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NIV) 

When you are full of pride you are basically taking God out of the equation. It becomes all about you! When it’s all about you, there is no room for God. 

“If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Colossians 10:12 NIV) 

I want to help crucify your pride today, so you don’t fall. Why is this so important? Because pride can destroy your life. 

Consider these three ways that pride affects our lives… 

1) Pride decreases our dependence on Christ. 

When you are full of pride you aren’t leaving any room for God. How many of you do a good job at work/school? There is nothing wrong with saying you do. Where do you think that talent, ability, work ethic, and determination came from? It didn’t come from you. The creator of the universe put that in you. Instead of being full of ourselves, we need to be full of Christ.

2) Pride damages our relationships. 

Have you ever been in a situation with someone you love where you just couldn’t say, “I’m sorry”? That’s how pride damages relationships. We get so caught up in being right, that we can’t do what’s right. Pride makes us feel like we always have to win. In relationships, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about loving enough to do whatever it takes to make things right. “It’s impossible to completely restore relationships when pride is present. Pride is like a personal prison; it shuts us in and keeps God and others out.

3) Pride deceives us. 

Pride makes us think we are more/better than we are. It makes us think we know more than we really do. The problem with pride is that you can see it in other people instantly but it’s almost impossible to see it in the mirror. 

We all have an issue with the bad kind of pride. So, what do we do about it? We can crucify it… TODAY!

There are three things we must do to crucify our pride:

First, we need to put others’ needs ahead of our own. Say it with me…… IT’S NOT ABOUT ME! Have any of you ever had someone else help you? Would you really be where you are in life if someone hadn’t guided or helped you along the way? Shouldn’t you pass that on to someone else? That is what Christ would want you to do, friends. It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s all about helping others. We all eat fruit from trees that other people planted, don’t we?

Second, we need to think about the effect on others. The next time you are just as right as you can be and someone else couldn’t be more wrong, before you set them straight, stop and ask yourself, “does this really matter?” You have to think about whether you are helping or hurting someone else by the way you handle a situation. Stay focused on what you are really trying to accomplish. 

Third, we need to look for opportunities to serve others. Jesus spent His entire life serving others. He modeled how to serve better than anyone, and that’s why we refer to the people who help out at our church as “servants” not as volunteers. As a pastor, my role is to serve the church. As a member of our church, your role is to serve the church. When life becomes less about you and more about others you are beginning to crucify pride.

I’m very proud of a lot of things in my life. I’m proud that God lets me experience so many great things. But I haven’t done anything that God hasn’t allowed me to do and given me the ability to do. 

I heard an old saying once, “there are two kinds of people in the world, those who have been humbled and those who are going to be humbled.” I have been humbled. I have cried and begged and pleaded with God to change things in my life, and I’ve realized that I was my biggest problem. 

Pride is a monster that lives inside all of us. It is a monster that needs to be dealt with, and the only way to do that is by choosing humility. 

What is humility? Well, as C.S. Lewis put it, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” 

Humility is the nail that holds pride to the cross. Choose humility and you’ll be able to keep your pride where it should be – crucified, dead, buried, and gone.