“You’re changing lives … and I’m so inspired by how you’re using your gifts for Jesus!!”
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine when she blurted out those words in a gush of enthusiasm. There was nothing in it for her, she wasn’t fishing for a compliment back, and she definitely wasn’t trying to butter me up. They were simply kind words. Kind words that were like water to my soul. And you know what else? It’s not uncommon for this particular friend of mine to speak words of life and encouragement.
Almost every time we’re together, I can count on her affirmation, her encouragement and her sincere compliments. They so genuinely pour out of her, like water flowing from a spring.
Have you ever met someone like that? Someone that just spoke words of life, and hope, and encouragement everywhere they went? Maybe you have …
But more likely, maybe you’ve met the opposite.
A person who is not known for their words of life, but rather for their words of criticism and negativity. A person who boasts, and brags, and tends to lift themselves up while putting others down.
As we examine today’s fourth characteristic of REAL LOVE in the #LoveIs series, I’m reminded that according to God’s word: real love is marked by humility. Real love does not boast, and it is not proud.
As I consider this concept it makes so much sense that these two qualities are listed together because if encouragement is the overflow of a humble heart, then boastfulness is the overflow of a prideful heart. And pride is focused solely on self. Prideful people have a hard time encouraging and uplifting others, because they’re too busy building up themselves. They have a hard time looking out, because their focus is far too often looking in.
But a humble person is someone who is secure in who they are in Christ … so there is no need to constantly seek to build themselves up. They have the capacity to fill up others, because by the grace of God, they feel full in and of themselves. Giving to others takes NOTHING away from them, in fact, they always have more to give.
Here’s a difficult question for you: Can you describe yourself as that kind of a person? Are you a person who resembles a prideful, boastful heart—or a person who is marked by humility and encouragement?
Whether in friendship, family or in romantic relationships—a prideful heart is like a cancer in a relationship. Consumed with self, it will slowly tear down, destroy, and sabotage intimacy and love … because pride ALWAYS comes before a fall.
As you take inventory of this aspect of your life, ask yourself some of these questions to determine whether or not your heart is filled with pride:
1. Do you find yourself looking down on others for their lack of talents, success or ambitions?
2. Do you tend to talk more about yourself in a conversation rather than give the opportunity to hear about others?
3. Do you find it difficult to confess when you’ve done something wrong?
4. Do you consider yourself “immune” to certain sins or behaviors saying things like, “I would NEVER do that …”?
5. Do you find yourself getting defensive and have a hard time accepting criticism?
6. When you accomplish something, is your first response to “pat yourself on the back” rather than to thank God?
7. When it comes to daily activities and routines, do you expect others to serve you rather than serving others?
8. Do you like to argue, debate and prove yourself right?
9. Is it difficult for you to encourage and compliment others?
10. Do you find yourself looking down on others when they make poor choices?
11. Do you find yourself interrupting people when they’re talking?
12. Do you tend to rely on your own abilities and strength rather than see your NEED for prayer and God’s word?
13. Do you have difficulty when you are given a suggestion or told what to do?
14. Are you slow to express thanks and gratitude to God and to others?
15. Are you easily offended?
16. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about how you look, how you’re acting and what people are thinking of you?
17. Do you hold on to hurts for an extended period of time?
18. Are you quick to criticize or point out the flaws in others?
19. Do you look for opportunities to talk about your accomplishments and success?
20. Do you tend to see your spiritual life and “walk with God” as better than others?
If you answered YES to some, many or most of these questions … then let’s do nothing less than commit these things to confession and prayer! Because like C.S. Lewis so eloquently says, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself … it’s thinking of yourself LESS.”
Because only as God empties us of ourselves, we will be able to be filled with His love.
Comment below: What other things have you found to be a good gauge of your level of pride?
This article originally appeared here.