Ask most of us what the opposite of humility is and we’d come up with pride.
Ask us how pride manifests itself and the things that probably come to mind are: boasting; self exaltation; arrogance; thinking of myself more highly than I should; esteeming myself above others; and so on. But add worrying to that list and it causes me to pause. Include being anxious as an indicator of a prideful heart and I start to scratch my head a bit. But, if this morning I am, in fact, picking up what Peter’s laying down, then I’m thinking I need to expand my list of prideful behaviors to include the propensity to hold on to, and wallow in, my worries. That I need to beware of anxiety pride.
“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.”
(1Peter 5:6-7 ESV)
Now, I’d consider myself pretty familiar with these two verses. But that might be the problem–that I most often process this one sentence as two verses, and thus, as two unconnected thoughts. Humbling myself before God. Casting all my cares upon God. Two actions to take. Two commands to obey.
But what if humbling myself IS casting my cares? Said differently, what if pride is prominent when I persistently taking charge of my problems?
The people Peter wrote to had a lot to be anxious about. Life was hard and every indicator was that it was going to get harder still. And, when the going get’s tough, sometimes you entertain thoughts of getting out. So, Peter reminds them of who they are in Christ. That they are not just a dispersed people, but also a special people. A people of God’s choosing, a holy nation, called out of darkness into marvelous light in order to proclaim the excellencies of Christ (2:9).
But, the other natural reaction when the heat is turned up, is to turn on others. And so, Peter also exhorts them to resist the temptation to take an “every man for himself” or, an “eat or be eaten,” approach to dealing with the pressures of the life God had permitted to be in their lives. Instead, they were to keep loving one another (4:8); to show hospitality to one another (4:9); to serve one another (4:10); and, to clothe themselves with humility toward one another (5:5). And showing humility to others would first require that they humble themselves before God. Which, in turn, would require that they cast all their anxieties on God.
Anxiety pride would affect family relationships. Determination to deal with the pressures of life on their own would be problematic in their attempts to do life as a community. Humbling themselves before God and casting their cares upon Him would be essential to clothing themselves with humility towards one another.
So, it seems, refusing to freely give my worries to God can be, in a very real sense, a pretty powerful indicator of pride. Exposing, perhaps, an arrogance of thinking in which I believe I can power through my problems on my own and apart from God’s help. Or, bringing to light a self-absorbed attitude which prefers “woe is me” rather than “greater is He!”
It’s when I insist that my anxieties really are my anxieties that there might be an indication of a pride induced dynamic at play within my heart.
But, when I humble myself, and cast all my cares upon Him, I acknowledge that God’s hand is mighty to save in all situations. When I’m humble of heart then I can submit to God’s perfect and permitted will in my circumstance and suffering. Trusting in His sovereign purposes.
And when that humility is known before God, it’s going to enable my ability, by His empowering Spirit, to clothe myself in humility toward my brothers and sisters. Humility towards God spawning a harmony with one another.
Oh, that I would be protected from anxiety pride. That I would humble myself and truly cast all my cares upon Him.
For my sake. For the sake of others.
By His grace. For His glory.