Jesus calls us to be perfect. To love God perfectly, and to love others with perfection. But how can we be perfect? Isn't that impossible? Haven't we all fallen short of the glory of God?
It's true that none of us are perfect. However, that does not stop us from striving to be so. God wants us to obtain a will to be perfect. Although we cannot achieve it by ourselves, as long as we want to achieve it, God can enter our hearts and do His good work.
But there's a problem. And that problem is pride. There are many sins in the world, but pride is probably the most severe. Pride keeps us far from God, belittles others, hurts others, and makes us blind to our own flaws, destroying opportunity for self-improvement, and thus keeping us perpetuated in sin.
What I want to do in this post is outline some prideful thoughts and mindsets, from "obvious" to subtle, that either I have encountered myself or have seen at work in others. I hope that those who read this might find it insightful and use it to help themselves or someone they know.
"You're not worth my time."
This is one of the more "obvious" ones. By saying someone is not worth your time, you are saying they are below you. You are saying you are more valuable than them. This goes against Jesus' teaching, love your neighbor as yourself.
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
– John 13:12-14
In this teaching, Jesus lowered himself to not just the level of a human, but a slave human. We are not greater than Jesus – why then do we sometimes feel entitled?
"I deserve better than this."
This one is less than obvious because, often times, maybe you're right. But you know what? Maybe you're not. And thinking you are blocks you from seeing the possibility of not being right.
But when you are invited [to a wedding feast], go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, "Friend, move up higher"; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Even if you are justified (and most likely you aren't), being upset about it is not what Jesus asks us to do. Don't feel entitled. Instead, be humble with loving kindness.
"I'm a decent person."
Alternatively: "I'm a good person", or "I'm not nearly as bad as that guy."
This is the most dangerous and subtle forms of pride. Thinking like this puts you in the danger of thinking you are "good enough". "I'm a pretty decent guy," you might think. "I don't steal, I don't lie, what's there to improve?" Thinking like this makes you blind to opportunities of improvement, effectively stagnating your spiritual growth.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
– Mark 10:17-18
Also see the parable of the pharasee and the publican
If you think you are a good or decent person, be reminded of the standards of goodness that Jesus personally set for us to live by.
And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
– Luke 14:12-14
"I'm not prideful."
Interestingly enough, thinking this is actually a prideful thought. It's kind of like saying, "I'm so humble!" We all have some kind of pride, subtle or not, that we need to repent from and replace with a fruit of humbleness.
Please don't take this as an accusatory message; I am not any better than you are. I desire to be helpful. It may be that the subtle pride you have in your life doesn't actually harm those around you. However, even if that's the case, it is still hindering your spiritual journey in some form or fashion.
Once you have conquered your pride and ego, your eyes will be spot-free to start better judging your own actions. You will find things you need to stop doing, and things you can improve. You will find new insight into your own character and gain knowledge of what you need to perfect next. You will find new wisdom for living a life without pride – a life that, ultimately, better serves God and those around you.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:46-48