There is a pride that cannot tolerate being wronged and strikes all others with the tongue, as if with a rod (Prov. 14:3).
The prideful person who cannot cover the sin of another person in imitation of our Savior will ultimately be struck with a rod themselves.
Even if this person has suffered unjustly as the target of another’s sin, the temptation for such a person is to circle the wagons instead of seeking out communion. When rallying and putting up defenses, everyone else becomes an enemy, actual or potential. Shots will be fired unless you proclaim loudly your intention to fire upon the prideful party’s foes.
In this scenario, the prideful defense of a person or family’s honor will erode relationships with all others, not only those who may have committed some offense.
If someone else has been unjustly accused of sinfully targeting another and cannot bear this burden mercifully, their prideful lashing out can be no less destructive, to themselves and others.
The rot from which this decay spreads is pride.
And protecting our honor is a sorry excuse for neglecting the honor of Christ.
The famous 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, noted that a defense of one’s honor often was no better than an offense against God and others, all motivated by sinful pride.
What Spurgeon preached to his congregation:
What can you and I say with regard to our lives since we have known the Lord? Have we lived unto Christ? Dare we take the Apostle Paul’s motto—“For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”?
Oh, beloved, it is not what we have done, so much as with what objective we have done it; for every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Have we in our hearts longed to serve Him?
“Oh,” I hear one say, “it was little I could do, sir; I was poor; I could not give Him gold; I was uneducated, I could not give Him words.”
Ah, my brother, it is possible that what you have been able to do may be more acceptable than what some others have done, if you can say, “I did not desire my own honor. I was content to be humble, to be obscure, to be unknown, and to be forgotten, if I might but lift Him up and praise Him in my little sphere, and make Him glorious among men.”
I fear, beloved brothers and sisters, that some of us do but little for Christ, even outwardly, and I blush to confess, that in that little which we do, there is so much that is spoiled by our looking after self.
Have we not sometimes prayed at the prayer meeting with the view of being thought gifted? Have we not joined a church that we might be a little better thought of?
May we not have labored more abundantly that there might be the whisper about—“So-and-So is a flourishing Christian, a useful man”?
Do we not compliment ourselves thus—“Well, people think very highly of me; they say such-and-such, and it must be all right”?
Are we not smuggling over the frontier some of the merchandise of pride? It has been lately remarked, and not before it was necessary, that this is an age in which the word pride means what it never meant before.
You hear gentlemen on the platform say, “I am proud.”
You hear the minister, himself, when speaking of something that has been done for him, “I am proud.”
The words, “I am proud,” do not mean any hurt now, because we have forgotten that pride in any shape and in every shape is detestable in the eyes of God. We even talk of a decent pride.
I saw a good young woman the other day—I dare say she is here this morning—and she told me she could not come now on a Sunday, because her clothes were getting so bad, “And,” she said, “I thought it was decent pride to stop coming.”
And I said, “No, my sister, no pride is decent.”
I saw her last Sunday standing down there, and I have no doubt she enjoyed what was said as well in her cotton dress as she would have done if she could have worn her silk one. All pride is indecent.
A few Sundays ago, when we had the mourning for Prince Albert, some people could not go to church because the dressmakers had been so busy, that they could not get their black things ready, and it was called decent pride which kept them at home, but I say again, it was indecent pride—indecent pride such as the Lord God of Hosts abhors.
We must have done with these prides, but yet, I do fear that pride has so mixed with all we have done, and so stained our best acts, that we have reason to cry out this morning, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; Lord have mercy upon us, for Jesus’ sake.”
Sermon edited with preface by Zach Parker, news editor at The Ouachita Citizen. The excerpt is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “God or self—which?” delivered on March 9, 1862 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.