A Cure for Pride

Philippians 2:3‑8  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves  ... Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:3-83Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:3‑8)).
The cure for pride, to be effectual, must not only take away proud actions and ways, proud words and looks, but proud thoughts and feelings. It must, in short, change not only a man’s actions, his words and ways, but his spirit. And it is the spirit that the apostle speaks of here. He does not say, “Let nothing be done that is contentious or vainglorious,” that is, actions of such a nature; neither does he say, “Let nothing contentious or vain-glorious be said;” that is, proud words, but “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;” that is, in such a spirit. This cuts very deeply. A Philippian Christian might put a handsome sum of money in a box, or give large gifts to the poor, or even be foremost in the ministry through a vainglorious spirit; or he might, on the other hand, be zealous for the truth from a mere spirit of contention. It was, therefore, to reach the evil springs of actions which might outwardly look fair enough that the apostle thus wrote.
Pride runs in man’s blood, and exists in some shape or other in the heart of every human being. It is the last sin to be practically subdued, “The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest.”
Where it is cast out as worldly pride and ambition it may still flourish as “an angel of light,” as spiritual pride. The only spirit that is free from pride is the spirit of Christ. The apostle’s words in verse 3 are strikingly like those of our Lord in Matthew 11:2929Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29). Both speak of “lowliness of mind” or of heart; not the outward appearance, but the inward reality. When Paul speaks of the way to get this humble spirit he bids us study Christ, and when the Lord Himself teaches us the same lesson He tells us to “learn of” Him. What we are to learn and to observe is His mind, His spirit, as detailed in the verses that follow.
And now observe before the apostle speaks of what Christ became, he tells us what He was; before speaking of His humiliation, he touches on His glories; and in this lies the secret of the cure for pride.
From: a Pamphlet of the Same Title Published Many Years Ago: Being Before Becoming
Telling a man to be humble does not humble him or take away his ambition. The first thing for a Christian to learn is what he is in Christ before he learns how he has to become like Christ.
I have observed that it is not those who are highest in rank who are most ambitious. There is a height, indeed, in which ambition is not even possible, there being nothing higher to strive after. What ambition is possible for one who is already at the top of the ladder, and that by birth and not by effort. Take the Prince of Wales — is it the object of his life to be a successful merchant, a rising politician, or an accomplished soldier? The lower we go in the scale the more scope there is for ambition. Thus Adam could esteem it an object of plunder to be as God. Christ could not, from the simple fact that He was God. Let us apply this. A Christian is a child of the Almighty God, he is an heir of His eternal glory, he is a joint heir with His only begotten Son, he is a part of Christ, loved with an infinite love, ministered to by angels; he has access into the holiest, can call God Father, and knows no fear or dread on approaching Him before whom the angels veil their faces. He is blessed with all spiritual blessings, and is raised higher than angel or archangel.
When he realises this, that is, has the mind of verse 6 (as far as it is applicable to him), what worldly ambition is possible? Let the potsherds of earth strive among themselves for the petty objects of their ambition, the child of God is raised in faith above them all.
To Give Not to Get
I remember some time ago when staying in a wild part of the country, standing on the top of one of the little hills by the roadside, and thinking myself greatly raised above my friends who were standing at its base. But shortly after when I ascended a high mountain close by and looked down on the white road and the little green hills by its side, I could not see the slightest difference in their height, nor could I possibly have told if I had seen one man on the road and another on the top of the loftiest of them, which was on the higher ground. Thus it is, as to worldly ambition, for the Christian who knows what he is in Christ. There was a time when he was as eager as any, scrambling up the little hills of this world’s ambition, for money, for position, for glory or fame; but now he has been raised so far, so very far, above it all that such objects are neither possible nor desired. One with the highest in the heavens he can afford to take his place with the lowest on earth, knowing that however low he goes, his Master went lower.
This, then, is a radical cure for worldly pride, for observe all this is made known to me now by the Spirit, not to puff me with spiritual pride (which is still worse). That is impossible if I know that I have nothing in or of myself, but all in and from Christ; but all this is taught me first, to exclude from my heart every sort of earthly ambition; and, secondly, to enable me fully to enjoy and follow the lowly path of Christ described in the remaining verses. Let the soul get fully established, in its wonderful place in Christ and really occupied with Him, and then it is in a condition to understand and appreciate His path down here. Let the Christian learn he is heir not like all other men to get, but like his Master, to give.
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