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7 Subtle Symptoms of Pride From Jonathan Edwards

Edwards says, “For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still.”

5. Presumption Before God

Humility approaches God with humble assurance in Christ Jesus. If either the “humble” or the “assurance” are missing in that equation, our hearts very well might be infected with the symptoms of pride. Some of us have no shortage of boldness before God, but if we’re not careful, we can forget that he is God.

Edwards writes, “Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11: ‘Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.’”

Others of us feel no confidence before God. Which sounds like humility, but in reality it’s one of the symptoms of pride. In those moments, we’re testifying that we believe our sins are greater than his grace. We doubt the power of Christ’s blood and we’re stuck staring at ourselves instead of Christ.

6. Desperation for Attention

Pride is hungry for attention, respect and worship in all its forms.

Maybe it sounds like shameless boasting about ourselves. Maybe it’s being unable to say “no” to anyone because we need to be needed. Maybe it looks like obsessively thirsting for marriage—or fantasizing about a better marriage—because you’re hungry to be adored. Maybe it looks like being haunted by your desire for the right car or the right house or the right title at work: all because you seek the glory that comes from men, not God.

7. Neglecting Others

Pride prefers some people over others. It honors those whom the world deems worthy of honor, giving more weight to their words, their wants and their needs. There’s a thrill that goes through me when people with “power” acknowledge me. We consciously or unconsciously pass over the weak, the inconvenient and the unattractive, because they don’t seem to offer us much.

Maybe more of us struggle with pride than we thought.

There’s good news for the prideful. Confession of pride signals the beginning of the end for pride. It indicates the war is already being waged. For only when the Spirit of God is moving, already humbling us, can we remove the lenses of pride from our eyes and see ourselves clearly, identifying the sickness and seeking the cure.

By God’s grace, we can turn once again to the glorious gospel in which we stand and make much of him even through identifying our pride in all its hiding places inside of us. Just as my concealed pride once moved me toward death, so the acknowledgement of my own pride moves me toward life by causing me to cling more fiercely to the righteousness of Christ.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23–24)

What other symptoms of pride would you add? Please share in the comments. 

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Fabienne (Fabs) Harford (@fabsharford) is a writer, speaker, and counselor, serving on staff at The Austin Stone Counseling Center in Austin, Texas. She writes regularly at www.fabsharford.com.