‘Know thyself’: this is true humility, the humility that teaches us to be inwardly humble and makes our heart contrite. Such humility you must cultivate and guard. For if you do not yet know yourself you cannot know what humility is, and have not yet embarked truly on the task of cultivating and guarding. To know oneself is the goal of the practice of the virtues.
– Nikitas Stithatos, On The Inner Nature of Things
What is pride? Here’s C.J. Mahaney’s definition in his book Humility: True Greatness –
Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him.
Making use of an insight of Charles Bridges, Mahaney goes on to say that pride is “contending for supremacy with God, and lifting up our hearts against him.”
What then does the proud person seek after? Self-glorification.
Pride takes innumerable forms but has only one end: self-glorification. That’s the motive and ultimate purpose of pride – to rob God of legitimate glory and pursue self-glorification , contending for supremacy with Him. The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.
“God opposes the proud” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) – he hates pride with a pure and holy hatred. Mahaney warns that “The proud will not indefinitely escape discipline” because “God’s opposition to pride is an immediate and constant activity.”
I’m just into the first couple of chapters but already this book is proving to be a real blessing. It makes me want to cry out to God for forgiveness for the many times I have been proud, conceited and arrogant. It also makes me realize that I shouldn’t be surprised if I often find myself humbled and even humiliated. God is serious about killing the pride in my heart so that I will learn to seek His glory and not mine. Oh, for the grace to be humble!