Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

My Battle With Pride


We’ve all got areas of sin we struggle with.  One of mine is pride.

Specifically — I love getting recognition from people.

I feel pleasure when people applaud me, and pain when people applaud others more than me.

It’s ugly, it dishonors Christ, it leaves me empty.  I hate it.

So I thought I’d go to war against my pride — and let you listen-in, hoping this might help you in your battle against sin.

Why is this such a battle?

It’s because the problem is in my heart.  I like applause.  I feel pleasure when people recognize me.

And that’s not easy to overcome.

Gritting my teeth doesn’t work.  Distracting myself doesn’t work.  Beating myself up doesn’t work.

So what can I do?

God tells me in Jeremiah 2:13 —

My people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

I am thirsty, and there’s only one fountain of living water — God Himself.

In comparison to God’s living water, the pleasure of pride is a dry, broken cistern.

So the way to overcome the pleasure of pride is to turn to the greater pleasure of God.

When I taste the living water of God’s presence, I won’t care about the dry, broken cistern of pride.

So here’s the steps I am taking —

I am coming to Jesus with my craving for applause, and trusting Him to forgive, help, and change me.

I don’t need to overcome sin before coming to Jesus.

In fact, I can only overcome sin by coming to Jesus (John 15:5).

Because of the Cross, I can come to Jesus with my pride, and as I repent and confess, He forgives me, welcomes me, and promises to help me (Luke 18:13-14; Luke 15:20).

Jesus, here I am.  A man who again and again turns from You to the inferior pleasures of applause.

Thank you for the Cross.  I repent of my pride.  I confess it as sin.  Please forgive me — and help me.

Thank You for welcoming me, loving me, accepting me.

I am asking the Father to increase the work of His Spirit in me.

The only way pride can be broken is if I feel the superior pleasure of God Himself.

But my will-power can’t make this happen.  Only the Spirit can make this happen.

So I need to pray —

Father, in Jesus’ name I ask that You would increase the work of Your Spirit in me.  I claim Luke 11:13 — you will give the Spirit to those who ask You.  I long to be filled with pleasure in You and You alone. 

Let me see Jesus’ glory with the eyes of my heart (2Cor 3:18; Eph 1:18).  Satisfy me with Jesus’ glory so much that I gladly turn from the inferior pleasures of pride.

I am setting my heart on God’s Word.

God provides the Spirit as we hear with faith (Gal 3:5).

So I am going to set my heart upon Scriptures, and pray and fight the fight of faith — until I feel the all-satisfying pleasure of Jesus so deeply that pride loses it’s pull.

I’m looking at Revelation 1:5 —

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.

I was bound in sins.  You shed Your blood.  Now I’m freed from my sins.  And from now to eternity You love me.

You — all-powerful, infinitely wise, perfectly sovereign Jesus — love me.  Forever.

I thought this would take more effort.  It usually does.  But as I pray over those words, my heart is changing.

I now feel the pleasure of worshiping Jesus — a pleasure much more satisfying than applause.

My desire for applause is gone.

That’s huge progress.  But I want to weaken this area of sin more.  So — one more Scripture.

I’m turning to 1 Corinthians 4:7 —

What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Lord Jesus — anything good I have — any skill, any faith, any goodness — is a blood-bought gift I received from You.

Because of my sin, I myself do not have anything good.  But in great love, You suffered on the Cross so I could receive everything good.

Forgive me for taking credit for these — for boasting in these.

Thank You for Your gifts.  Thank you for the Cross.

This helps me feel how wrong it is to seek my glory — and gives me passion to seek His glory.

He has conquered my pride — another gift from Jesus’ nail-pierced hands.

The war’s not over

Even though Jesus helped me win this  battle — the war is not over.

I will probably need to battle again tomorrow.  Maybe even tonight.

But I’ve made progress.  My heart is in a better place than when I started writing this post.

And this victory will make the next battle easier.

What has helped you?

How have you fought against pride?  What Scriptures have helped.  I’d love to hear — leave a reply below.

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(Picture is by rhyme at stock xchng.)


Category: Stories from My Life


12 Responses

  1. Jon Peirson says:

    what a great 1 -2 punch I was just listening to your sermon on Isaiah 9:8-10:19 “God punishes pride”. Thank you for helping me recognize the pride in me that I didn’t even think was pride, but was keeping me from enjoying God the way He wants me to.

  2. Craig Forbes says:

    Argh! This one didn’t hit close to home. It is home! Convicting and a call to true repentance. Thanks Holy Spirit for speaking through Steve.
    For Him,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      You have quite a way with words, Craig. Thanks so much for your encouragement — it came at just the right time. And I’m right next to you at the foot of the Cross.

  3. Paul Walton says:

    “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”- John 5:44

    Jesus is saying when we seek and receive glory from other people as our heart’s satisfaction, we cannot have real faith, because we are living for the praise of men, and not God. We cannot serve two masters, either we will love the one or hate the other, when we trust in anything other than Christ we are trusting an idol, and that is breaking the first commandment.

    Thanks for sharing your struggle Steve, pride is a dangerous sin, one we all fight against constantly. Only by God’s grace can we overcome our desire to please other people, so we will receive the glory, instead of God, who deserves it all.

  4. Doug Knighton says:

    Steve, thanks for helping me think more closely about this. As I have pondered this the past few days, I’m thinking it might be helpful to divide this struggle into two components: 1) delight when receiving applause and 2) envy when watching someone else receive it. Clearly the latter is a sinful attitude of unbelief; rather we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” The former, however, is not. Jesus does not entice us to the sin of pride when he uses the promise “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) as motivation for his followers. Nor does Paul when he tells us that we who “seek glory/praise, honor and immortality” should persevere in doing good, so we will obtain eternal life (Romans 2:7). Delighting in applause (praise or other expressions of love) seems to me to be a part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Imagine what life would be like if Jan only expressed her disapproval of how you treat her. One major problem arising from this human characteristic is our sometime choice to exclude the applause of God and include only the applause of people: as did the Pharisees in John 5:44 and 12:43; or to applaud each other in the commission of unrighteousness (Romans 1:28-32) – the sin is not in the delight, but in the exclusion. This delight in applause can also turn into sin if we receive it as Herod did in Acts 12:22. You called our attention to this in the blog by reminding us that all that we have is an expression of grace (1 Corinthians 4:7). Again, however, I think there’s a difference between delighting in others’ appreciation of our gifts and boasting in them ourselves. How appalling it would have been to hear silence at the conclusion of my daughter’s senior piano recital, because the Christians in attendance didn’t want her to sin by delighting in their applause.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      So good to hear from you, Doug — brings back lots of warm memories! Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      It is helpful to have you point out that there is an appropriate pleasure in receiving praise. You are right — that’s clear in Scripture, and we should emphasize it.

      So that makes me wonder — how can I tell when my pleasure in receiving praise is appropriate — or when it’s not?

      I remember the discussion in my dad’s Sermon on the Mount class (were you in that class?). Jesus says we must not practice righteousness in order to be seen by men (Mat 6:1). And yet He also urges us to let our light shine so people see our good works and glorify the Father (Mat 5:16).

      Maybe that’s the difference — whether my ultimate pleasure and aim is glorifying the Father. So I need to search my heart and ask if my pleasure in praise is that people are glorifying me, or if it’s because they are glorifying the Father through me.

      If my greatest joy is God’s glory, I will live in such a way that others see God’s glory. Then, when they see God’s glory in my actions, and rejoice that my actions display God’s glory, I will feel pleasure because God was glorified.

      Does that sound right? And again — thanks for raising the question — and for sharing your thoughts.

    • Natasha says:

      Doug has a great point and perhaps I can offer a personal example to differentiate between the two: pride evoked from the affirmation of others and pride in a job well done for the glory of Christ.

      As a musician and vocalist, I’ve been performing since I was 10 years old. In my early years, as God started developing his gifts in me, I would take a great amount of pleasure in hearing accolades from others. In fact, I am shamed to think of memories of me rushing out into the crowd after performing at a service and just waiting to soak up all the praise! Ick. But I was immature and thought myself great because I had a great voice. The more I absorbed the accolades with such wrong motives, the more sinful my pride became.

      When pregnant with my twins, I lost my singing voice completely. My range went from three octaves to barely squeaking out one. And suddenly this great source of pride inside me was dead. It felt like a piece of me, a limb even, had fallen off. it hurt at first but over the years, as God did a great work in other areas of my life, I began to see what a gift that was from God. Protecting me before it was too late!

      I realized that my voice isn’t for me. And you know what’s funny, just YESTERDAY I realized that my voice isn’t really for the benefit of others either. It’s for God. He gave me this gift and yes, He has even used it to change lives, mend broken hearts, or remove veils of blindness, but at the heart of it all, He gave it to me so that He may enjoy the beauty of it. Enjoy the praise that comes from it.

      If my motivation to sing is to seek approval from others, I’ve got a big problem. But if my motivation is to honor Him, then everything else will fall into its appropriate place…including the affirmation of others.

      Now, 20 years later, I’ve had to battle swinging wildly the other way…where praise made me feel uncomfortable and I avoided being around people after performing. But eventually, I’ve found a middle ground, much like Doug’s comments, where I pray that God works through my giftings (when He desires to) and that I simply enjoy the warmth that comes from knowing He listened and enjoyed my performance, that others were impacted for the Kingdom, and that my Heavenly Father is up there saying, “we’ll done, good and faithful servant”.

  5. Doug Knighton says:

    Hi, Steve; yes, I think I was in the Sermon on the Mount class with you. … The question you pose has been rattling around my head since I posted my reply: How can I tell when my pleasure in receiving praise is appropriate? Certainly, Matthew 5:16 is one good test to apply, as you pointed out. Natasha’s example highlights the problem on the other side of this coin, namely enjoying praise exclusive of God’s involvement. Maybe another way to frame this is to say that it is wrong to twist the pleasure of applause into boasting about ourselves; while it is right to transform such pleasure into praise of God, even if we’re only able to do this in our hearts. I think it’s important to remember that we cannot control how others respond to our efforts. Some people applaud us as a way of applauding God; but some people simply applaud the excellence they experience in our performance (action). Regardless of which one of these nuances are most contentious to us individually, I think that if our initial action is gracious (i.e., joyfully conscious of extending the grace of God into the world), it is always godly to respond gratefully to the joy expressed in applause, because this cycle of grace and gratitude models God’s way of working in the world. Thus, as you desire, we can freely enjoy applause and glorify God.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great follow-up, Doug. Very helpful. Thanks for writing it.

      And — wow — it’s been a long time since that Sermon on the Mount class!

      Much love to all of you,


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