Pride & Discouragement

This lesson is about two problems we often face as individuals and as a congregation – discouragement and pride. Being proud and discouragement may seem opposites, but they are often connected with each other, and we have to be open to God’s word if we are to solve these issues. I Thessalonians 5:14 encourages to be patient and encouraging with one another. How can we learn to put others before ourselves? How can we learn to dwell on the positive rather than the negative? We have to replace discouragement with encouragement; pride with humility.

Filled with Discouragement

We are less sure of God’s word than the facts warrant, and this can lead to discouragement. I John 4:17 speaks of the confidence we can have in God and the fear love should drive from our lives. John 10:28-29 reminds us that God is greater than all, and Philippians 4:13 claims we are capable of anything through CHrist who strengthens us. Our faith provides a foundation that builds us up and encourages us – driving the fears of discouragement from our lives.

Jeremiah 10:23 proclaims that our feet are to be guided by God’s word. His will has to change our lifetime of habits and attitudes. Are we trying to encourage others? If we are trying to bring hope to others, we will often find the hope in our own lives. God’s word contains the hope that can lift us from our troubles, but too often it is the last place to which we turn. Turning to God, working to lift others up – in these, we can spiritually lift ourselves up.

Filled with Pride

Pride contrasts discouragement. In this, we are more sure of ourselves than the facts warrant. We feel we are doing better than we really are. In Luke 18:9, Jesus tells a parable about a tax collector and a Pharisee – illustrating a point to some in His audience who are filled with pride. The Pharisee is very proud of himself, but only the tax collector sees himself through God’s eyes.

Success can lead us to become carried away with pride. Such an attitude changes us in ways that negatively affect ourselves and those around us. The prideful lives superficially, never taking stock of what they really need. until everything collapses and leads to painful discouragement. Psalm 19:12 records David requesting help with hidden faults and presumptuous (prideful) sin. Also, Psalm 139:23-24 calls on God to search his heart, leading toward good intentions. Unfortunately, pride drives David into his sin with David and Bathsheba, believing he will never be caught. We should avoid being like those in Revelation 3:17 who do not see their own nakedness before God.

If we can serve God reverently, then we will drive pride from our lives. In Hebrews 12:28-29, we are reminded to look unto God with awe, reverence, and gratitude. Philippians 2:12 speaks of serving God in fear. We have to recognize our vulnerabilities to temptations, but I Corinthians 10:12-13 reminds us that temptation cannot overcome us if we serve God faithfully. Finally, I Corinthians 13:5-6 reminds us to continually examine ourselves in context of God’s word.

Overcoming the Cycle

Ephesians 5:15-17 encourages us to make the most of the time we have in this world, to walk with care and wisdom. We cannot walk with too much pride or overly discouraged. The pendulum of our lives may often swing back and forth from one to the other, but God’s word can humble us and encourage us. Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that Christ died for us when no other would, and Romans 8:31 affirms God’s faithfulness to us and Christ’s intersession for us. Replacing arrogance with gratitude, concern for self with concern for others, faithlessness with faithfulness – these can help us overcome the cycle of discouragement and pride.

Like Paul, in II Corinthians 12:7-10, we need to find contentment in Christ regardless of our life circumstances. Sometimes, we may grow discouraged because we expect bad things to happen. Other times, we are disappointed because we felt things should have gone better. Living in the reality of Christ, as He teaches in John 8:31, we can be free from these cares, expectations, and worries. God is always there when we need Him most. We can find healing truth in the cross of Christ when we humbly open ourselves to His word, building us up in ways this world never can.

lesson by Mike Mahoney