Pride is a catch-all word for sin: pride is sin and sin is pride. Pride is a helpful word in that it accurately describes our fallenness. It is a word we know and a word we understand. When I say that I am proud, everyone immediately knows that it is not a good thing and that I need help. The word pride gets you thinking and moving in the right direction. Pride is like a warning alarm that calls the Gospel-centered man to action.
Let’s Get Specific
The downside to pride is that it does not get into the specifics of my sin. I can’t really repent of pride. I don’t know how. But if you tell me what specific manifestation of pride that you see in my life, then I can repent. While I don’t know exactly how to repent of pride, I can repent of self-righteousness, anger, arrogance, and laziness, which are all forms or manifestations of pride.
A helpful way for me to think about pride is by using the analogy of weeds growing out of a flower pot. You could say that pride is like the dirt in the pot, while specific sins are the various weeds that grow out of the dirt. In this illustration, pride is the fertile soul of the heart from which the specific weeds grow.
I find it much more encouraging to be told what forms of pride are being observed in my life than just being told that I am proud. I know I am proud, but what kind of pride are you talking about? When my friends point out the specifics of my sin, then I have the faith-filled and joy-filled privilege of going to God to receive his forgiveness and cleansing for my sin. (1 John 1:9)
Go West Young Man
Being non-specific about our sin is like being told to go west, but not told specifically where to go. I would point my wagon toward the setting sun and strike the mules to get them going, but without a clear destination in mind, I would only be heading somewhere toward the Pacific Ocean.
In order for me to be sufficiently helped I need to hear the specifics of my sin. The Gospel is ready, willing, and able to cleanse me from all my sin. Therefore I want to know the specifics so I can be changed by the power of the Gospel.
Through the years I have had the joy of training counselors, small group leaders, and pastors. Often I will hear them say that they need to repent of pride or someone they are working with needs to repent of pride. While their assessment is an accurate assessment, I appeal to them to be more specific in their observations and counsel by asking God to reveal to them what manifestations of pride they are talking about.
If you were to tell me that you struggled with pride I would not be surprised. You and I are fallen people living in a fallen world. However, I would not know anything new about you and my counsel could be reduced to praying and reading your Bible more often. Though praying and Bible reading is good, it is generally not enough.
By saying you are proud is to merely affirm what the Bible teaches. But if you tell me the specific manifestations of your pride, then I would know you in a very real way, as opposed to any other human on the planet. I would be able to pray specifically about you. I would also be able to bring specific Scriptures to bear on your pride.
Let me encourage you to learn how to be more specific with your friends. To say, “I am sick” is one thing, but to say, ”I have a flu” tells me a whole lot more. Let’s serve one another by thinking deeply about each other, while bringing the Gospel to each other in a “customized” kind of way.
The next time someones says you are proud be sure to thank them for caring for your soul as well as for caring about your relationship with the Father. But do not let them off the hook. Make them tell you exactly how they see your pride working out in your life. A true friend will work with you in the specifics of your sin. Between the two of you, you should be able to get down to the nitty gritty of your sin so you can fully repent.