“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”
We all have relationships. There’s our families and pets, peers and coworkers, friends and God. However, not everybody has a healthy relationship. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where I didn’t have healthy relationships. My father and brothers were abusive, my mom and sister were withdrawn, and I was harassed and bullied at school. But God, in his great mercy, has taught me about love being the foundation of healthy relationships. An antonym for love is often referred to as hate, but actually, the true opposite of love is pride because pride is self-focus. Unfortunately, even if you don’t realize it, you probably struggle with pride. Now, don’t feel like I’m accusing you and please, don’t get offended that I say this. It’s very important that pride is addressed because it’s what causes unhealthy and defective relationships.
Strife, Pride, and Wisdom
“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
Let’s break this down, New Testament style. Why would we strive? Maybe you don’t strive for this anymore, but you probably did upon first becoming a Christian: we strive to become “good enough” for God. This is pride. But humility is demonstrated in being willing to take advice and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In accepting, completely, and being one hundred percent perfected in God’s love, we are able to overcome pride. However, the reason I know we all struggle with pride is because, if we were perfected in the love of God, there would be no fear or sadness, no struggling.
Pride in Action
When we argue, it’s a result of pride. We care too much about being wrong. When we don’t want to accept our flaws and are insecure, it’s also because of pride. Another thing that’s considered pride is impatience or irritation. These emotions occur when we think something someone does is too slow, or annoying. Who are we to judge others negatively? Christ died for them. Another aspect of pride would be, as just mentioned, judgement. We can put ourselves on a pedestal high enough to look down on someone or condemn them, but only Jesus has that right. “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12).
How to Improve Relationships
Pride puts up walls and barriers. It distances people. But to be humble is to “value others above yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3). It doesn’t mean not to love yourself. Self-care, and self-love, to an extent, is important. Matthew 22:39 tells us to love ourselves and our neighbors. To improve relationships is to die to yourself by surrendering your pride. How do we do this?
How to Surrender Our Pride
The first step to surrender our pride is to confess as many times as needed, that we are sinners, and Jesus is our savior. We have to admit, to get to heaven, anyways, that he is Lord. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This also helps defeat pride.
The next step in conquering pride is to praise God for who he is. God is holy. As a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), we are not sinners, but saints now, in Christ. It doesn’t change the fact we still sin, though. God and Jesus alone are righteous. We just get Jesus’ righteousness because he died for us as the final sacrifice. God sees us as righteous, even though we sin. Sometimes, it’s hard to admit we aren’t “good enough” to earn salvation. But it helps to ponder this truth and reflect on how much God must love us if he was willing to give us salvation through the death of his blameless son. Praise God for the fact he is who he is, even though we remain sinning saints.
Lastly, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Overcoming pride is a lifelong struggle that we can’t do alone. In what ways is pride affecting my relationships? Is my heart right? Is pride keeping me from coming to God with my whole heart? What can I do to change and repent? And finally, in what ways has God helped me already, and what areas do I need help in to improve my life and relationships? These are good questions to come before the Spirit with, but the last few are the most important. It’s always good to reflect on what God’s done for us so we don’t feel hopeless and flawed.