Jonathan Edwards once wrote:
Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath. Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool. Jonathan Edwards (Undiscerned Spiritual Pride)
Therefore, you often can’t see pride. It’s hidden. It’s sneaky. It always has a self-defending-spin to explain itself away. But, all roots hidden underground are revealed by the fruit they bear above ground.
7 Fruits of Pride
Here are seven fruits that may indicate a proud heart.
A Critical Heart: No One Measures Up. You find faults in other people like my kids find candy. Pride is enamored with our good and others’ bad. Even when we’re listening to sermons, we’re making a mental list of all the other people who need to hear this. When we’re god, no one measures up to our glory and we’ll be quick to point that out.
A People-Pleasing Heart: Concerned About Your Reputation. People-pleasers seems humble because they seem others-focused. However, serving people for their good is different than serving them for your glory. Pride makes us bend over backwards to maintain our good reputation in others’ eyes. We’ll never say no because we don’t want our glory diminished! We dwell on the sins that people might see, but ignore the ones God does see.
A Defensive Heart: All Criticism Is Attack. Many people may proclaim they’re weak, needy sinners, but will strongly protest if anyone else agrees! We have a little defensive attorney in our hearts named Pride. All challenges, criticisms, or corrections launch him into vigorous work to deflate the accusations and defend our honor. We don’t listen, only litigate.
An Attention-Seeking Heart: You Want Glory. Pride yearns to be praised, loved, revered, and respected. It works hard for good PR and enthusiastic praise. It may be attention from material praise (the house, the car, the clothes) or relational praise (being the man, the husband, the Christian) or spiritual praise (being the strong, the knowledgeable, or the humble Christian!).
An Unforgiving Heart: Sin Against You Is Unforgivable. When we take ourselves seriously, we takes sins against us very seriously. The more highly you view yourself, the more unforgiving you will be. Pride doesn’t say, “They hurt me” but it says, “They hurt me!”
A Partial Heart: Only VIPs Get Your Attention. Pride jumps at the chance to relate to the honorable even if the connection is thin, but it recoils from ever being connected to the unimpressive, unattractive, or unknown.
An Unteachable Heart: You Already Know What You Need. Pride loves to teach, but hates to be taught. It makes us jump at the chance to share our wisdom, opinions, knowledge, or counsel, but gets annoyed when anyone tries to so bless us. Pride loves talking, but hates listening.
These are sickening fruits that lead to an even deadlier root. May God give us eyes to see and the humility to confess our pride so we may, “keep (our) hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23.