by William Gurnall
"A man's pride shall bring him low." Proverbs 29:23
Religious Pride. Some are as blind as Laodicea, and know it not (Rev. 3:17). As ignorance blinds the mind, so pride is a blind before their ignorance, that they know it not. These have such a high opinion of themselves, that they take it ill that any should suspect them as such. These of all men, are most out of the way to knowledge; they are too good to learn from others, as they think, and too bad to be taught of God. The gate into Christ's school is low, and these cannot stoop. The Master Himself is so humble and lowly that He will not teach a proud scholar.
Ah, poor creatures, what a sad change have they made, to leave the word, which can no more deceive them than God Himself to trust the guidance of themselves to themselves. "He who is his own teacher," says Bernard, "is sure to have a fool for a master."
Never are you less holy, than when puffed up with the conceit of it. "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright" (Hab. 2:4). A sign is set up at the proud man's door, that all passengers may know that a wicked man dwells there.
When men stand high, their heads do not grow dizzy until they look down. When men look down upon those that are worse than themselves, or less holy than themselves — then their heads turn round; looking up would cure this disease.
The most holy men, when once they have fixed their eyes awhile upon God's holiness, and then looked upon themselves — have been quite out of love with themselves. After the vision the prophet had of God sitting upon the throne, and the seraphim about Him, covering their faces, and crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty" — how was this gracious man smitten with the sense of his own vileness! They did no more cry up God as holy — than he did cry out upon himself as unclean (Isaiah 6:5). So Job, "Now my eye sees You! Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" (Job 42:5, 6).
Compare not yourself, with those that have less than yourself — but look on those that have far exceeded you. To look on our inferiors occasions pride. "I am not as this publican," says the Pharisee. Looking on others more eminent than ourselves, will both preserve humility, and be a spur to diligence.
A man may be very zealous in prayer and painstaking in preaching — and all the while pride is the master whom he serves, though in God's livery. It is hard starving this sin of pride — it can live on almost anything! Nothing so base, that a proud heart will not be lifted up with — and nothing so sacred, but pride will profane it. So far as pride prevails, the man prays and preaches rather to be thought good by others — rather to enthrone himself than Christ, in the opinion and hearts of his hearers.
Remember, Christian, when you have your best suit on, who made it, who paid for it. Your grace, your comfort, is neither the work of your own hands, nor the price of your own desert; be not for shame, proud of another's cost.
Pride of gifts. If once (like Hezekiah) we call in spectators to see our treasure and applaud us for our gifts and blessings — then it is high time for God to send some messengers to carry these away from us, which carry our hearts from Him. Pride of gifts hinders the receiving of good from others. Pride fills the soul, and a full soul will take nothing from God, much less from man.
Joseph's coat made him finer than his brethren — but caused all his trouble; thus great gifts lift a saint up a little higher in the eyes of men — but it occasions many temptations which you meet not with that are kept low. What with envy from their brethren, malice from Satan, and pride in their own hearts — I dare say none find so hard a work to bear up against those waves and winds.
While you are priding in your gifts — you are dwindling and withering in your grace. Such are like corn that runs up much into straw, whose ear commonly is light and thin. Grace is too much neglected, where gifts are too highly prized; we are commanded to be clothed with humility. Pride kills the spirit of praise: when you should bless God — you are really applauding yourself. Pride destroys Christian love, and stabs our fellowship with the saints to the heart. A proud man has not room enough to walk in company, because the gifts of others he thinks stand in his way. Pride so distempers the palate, that it can relish nothing that is drawn from another's vessel. Pride loves to climb up, not as Zaccheus, to see Christ — but so that others may see himself!
"God resists the proud" (James 4:6). The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him; but be sure the proud man shall find God Himself there to resist him. We must either lay self aside — or God will lay us aside. A proud sinner and a humble Savior will never agree! Christ is humble and lowly, and so resists the proud — but gives grace to the humble.
From The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall