Pride in Disguise

What kind of person comes to mind when you think of pride? Is it the man who loudly boasts of his achievements in the presence of others? Is it the woman who demands that things be done her way and her way only? Is it the teenager whose speech, dress, and behavior gives no consideration to the feelings of those around him? These examples are some of the more common associations we have when we consider the sin of pride. But pride is a complex enemy. As in war, some of the danger is staring at you across the battlefield, weapon in hand, dawning enemy colors, while other dangers are slinking around in disguise, looking as if they are not enemies at all. Sometimes pride stands out like a soldier, and other times it hides like a spy.

The latter could be said of the relationship between worry and pride. Biblically speaking, worry is a spy fighting on the side of pride. Worry doesn’t look like pride, but it is pride in disguise.  For believers like myself, who struggle with worry, this may be difficult to square with.  If this is your experience, I certainly want to be sympathetic to the tenacious ache of anxiety that you have felt.  But I also want to offer real hope, and the road to get there begins with being honest about where you are in the first place.

 The Apostle Peter shows us the lurking pride of worry in a passage that is familiar to many. First Peter 5:7 is a text often used to combat the sin of worry, but quoting this verse without v. 6 will limit the help you receive in addressing the worry in your life. If you memorized v. 7 in the NIV translation, then it reads as a new sentence: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” But in the Greek New Testament, v. 7 is a continuation of the sentence that began in v. 6. The ESV translation depicts this reality:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (emphasis mine).

Notice that the command given at the beginning of v. 6 is a command toward humility: “Humble yourselves.” When you get to v. 7, the NIV makes it seem like there is a new command in addition to the one in v. 6: “Cast all your anxiety…” But by translating the word, “casting” and placing it after a comma in the same sentence, the ESV shows that “casting your anxieties” on God is part of the command to “humble yourselves.”¹ Specifically, Peter is explaining how we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.² When we place our burdens on the infinitely strong shoulders of God, we are choosing humility instead of pride.

But how is it prideful to not cast our anxieties on God? New Testament theologian, Thomas Schreiner, clarifies this for us: “Worry is a form of pride because when believers are filled with anxiety, they are convinced that they must solve all the problems in their lives in their own strength. The only god they trust in is themselves.”³ Schreiner helps us see that a refusal to cast our anxieties on God is a refusal to believe that God is the only one who can truly bear those anxieties. It is to believe the lie that we can shoulder the weight of our burdens instead of God. Since pride is inherently focused on self to the neglect of God, it makes perfect sense for Peter to say that humbling yourself means giving your worries to the Lord.

So, how does knowing that worry is a manifestation of pride help us follow Christ more closely? First, it helps us understand that worry is something that calls for repentance. Worry is not something that we can place in a category of “That’s just the way I am” or “It runs in the family.” Worry is a sin that Jesus had to pay for on the cross, and, therefore, it is something we must turn from as we believe we are fully forgiven in Him. Second, it means that we need to remind ourselves of all the reasons why we cannot be trusted to bear our anxieties, and then, remind ourselves of all the ways God is infinitely adequate for the task. We must turn from the prideful self-trust of worry and turn to the humble confidence of leaving our burdens with God. Fortunately, Peter doesn’t make us look for long before we find reasons why we should trust God with our worries. In v. 6, he tells us God has a “mighty hand,” so we know He is fully capable of carrying our burdens for us, and in v. 7, he tells us that God “cares” for us, so we know He definitely wants to carry our burdens for us.⁴

Worry is pride in disguise. It is like a spy on the side of the enemy. The seemingly covert nature of worry can make it more dangerous, since it can be difficult to recognize as sin. But when we know what to look for, not only can we detect it, we can also put it to death with faith in our strong, compassionate God.

¹ Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter (IVP Academic, 2009), 201-202.
² Ibid., 202.
³ Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2003), 241.
⁴ Iain M. Duguid et al., ESV Expository Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2018), 356.


Brent Osterberg

Recent

Archive

Categories

no categories

Tags