Pride vs. God's True Wisdom
- The Fruit of the Spirit

by O. P. Martin


Pride is one of the three classes of temptation (pride, greed, and lust) we face. Our Lord was tempted in these three ways, and His response was to quote scripture. The devil fell through pride. It is perhaps the root of most intentional sin, since it is when we doubt God, and believe that following our own way instead of His would somehow be more beneficial for us, that we sin. We boast because of what we are, have, think, say, and do, even though all that is given to us from God, and have not yet appreciated how great God is. Benjamin Franklin said that pride is that hardest of the vices to tame, since, if once we feel we have mastered it, we immediately feel proud of the accomplishment.

Rick Warren gives four helpful practical suggestions for being humble. They are: admit weaknesses, put up with the weaknesses of others, accept advice and correction, and focus the spotlight on others more.

Let's see what the scriptures have to say.

In James chapter 3, especially verses 13-18, two kinds of wisdom are described. One involves bitter envy and selfish strife, and is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil. We should note that caring for one's self-interests is not, in itself, necessarily sin. We are designed by God to carry our own load (Galatians 6:5). But, self-interest becomes sin when we resort to improper means or get it out of priority. That is why, to join the J.O.Y. club, put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.

The other kind of wisdom is humble.

James 3:17 - "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all
pure; (true chastity)
then peace-loving, (sow in and make peace)
considerate, (equitable, fair, gentle)
submissive, (compliant, obeisant)
full of mercy (kindness to help the afflicted, triumphs over judgment)
and good fruit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
impartial (without doubt or discrimination)
and sincere." (without pretense)

Since "good fruit" are included, we are reminded of the fruit of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23), listed above. The first fruit is love. For more information on love, one can consult yet another list, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The first two listed attributes of love are patience (persevere and endure suffering) and kindness (benevolent, pleasant). You can click on the word "fruit", above, to pop up a window with descriptions of all the fruit of the Spirit.

The experts say that lasting life change is a three step process. First, choose to stop the old habits. Then, memorize and meditate on God's Word in order to renew the mind. Finally, prayerfully replace the bad habits with new, godly ones.

How long does it take to break and make a new habit? The internet says anything from 7 to 90 days, with the most common answer being 21 days. I doubt they really know. But, for the Christian, it is more likely that, since we are continually attacked by the enemy in often subtle ways, we need to maintain constant vigilance in order to maintain our habit. The more ingrained the old habit, the harder it will be at first to resist the devil. But, with persistence, we are promised, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" James 4:7 "until an opportune time." Luke 4:13.


We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Surely wisdom's end is the love of God. If one has not yet experienced the fear of the Lord and the realization that we are sinners in danger of falling into the hands of an angry God almighty, one has not yet proceeded as one ought; this is where we need to start. The Bible tells us both to fear God and to love God, yet "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18) Is this a contradiction? My theory is that as one begins his or her spiritual journey, the fear of God is appropriate and should take precedence over any fear of man. Then, as we mature in our walk with the Lord and get to know Him and His trustworthiness over time, we learn to love Him and others. In both cases we keep His commandments; in the former, out of duty, in the latter, out of joy. Duty sometimes gets a bum rap in Christian circles today, but it is noble. When joy is absent, duty kicks in. But joy and love are more glorious.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." - 1 Corinthians 8:1.

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© copyright 2005-2007, O. P. Martin