It’s Hard to be Proud When You’re Close to the Cross

Even though God obviously hates all sin it seems as we survey the Bible that pride is at the top of his list. When the personified wisdom of God speaks in Proverbs he says this:
“I hate pride and arrogance.” (Proverbs 8:13, NIV)

Why does God hate pride so much? Well pride is when we as humans aspire to the status and position of God and we fail to acknowledge our dependence on him. Pride is when we seek to rob God of his glory by glorifying ourselves. No wonder he hates it so much.

I have been reading from C. J. Mahaney’s book called “Humility – True Greatness”. I wanted to pass on an excerpt to you because I think he offers a very practical way to fight pride and cultivate humility in our lives. I hope you find Mahaney’s thoughts helpful from the fifth chapter of his book…


Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about the surest way to pursue humility:

There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner…that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust…Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.

John Stott helps us understand why the cross has this powerful effect:

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

I once had the privilege of spending an hour with Don Carson, Bible scholar and professor at Trinity Evangelical Seminary. In the course of our conversation, he told me of an interview he had with the late Carl Henry, perhaps the foremost evangelical theologian of the latter half of the twentieth century. Dr. Henry was characterized by not only brilliance but also humility—a rare combination. So Dr. Carson asked him how he had remained humble for so many decades.
Listening to Dr. Carson, I sat poised with pen and paper, ready to record Carl Henry’s answer. This was it: “How can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?”

So many times since that conversation, I’ve thought, “Father, I want to stand as close to the cross as I possibly can, because it’s harder for me to be arrogant when I’m there.”

The cross never flatters us. Stott also wrote, “Far from offering us flattery, the cross undermines our self-righteousness, and we can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit.”

This book by Mahaney offers many insightful ways to deal with pride in our lives and is easy to read. If you’re interested, you can pick up a copy of it in The Crossing bookstore.

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