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Humility vs. Pride

January 28, 2023

Daily Scripture

Proverbs 16:18-19, Ephesians 4:6-10, James 3:13-18

Proverbs 16

18 Pride comes before disaster,
and arrogance before a fall.
19 Better to be humble with the needy
than to divide plunder with the proud.

Ephesians 4

4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. 8 That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people [Psalm 68:18].
9 What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.

James 3

13 Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. 14 However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. 17 What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. 18 Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In the sixth century, St. Gregory the Great (later Pope Gregory I), who first named the seven deadly sins in the form we’re familiar with, called pride “the ruler of the other seven vices.” Seven centuries later, St. Thomas Aquinas similarly called “pride” the overarching ruler of the seven sins. * When James described humility as missing, we find many of the deadly behaviors we’ve studied earlier this week cropping up. Conversely, translators have often rendered the Greek word behind “humble lifestyle” (prautes) as “meekness.” It is “is the opposite of arrogance. It is often understood as self-effacement or submissiveness and is therefore considered by many as a weakness rather than a virtue. In Jesus’ teaching, however, it is a desirable quality…. this sort of ‘humility’ can come only from true wisdom—the wisdom from God!” ** When used humbly, with a deep desire to live out God’s wisdom, technology can become a genuine instrument for good and productive living.

  • Do you agree with the sages of Proverbs—would living humbly with the needy be better than “living high” with the proud? Why or why not? The apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, called all Christ-followers together “one body and one spirit.” But pride inevitably puts us above others, better than others. It is natural for us to tend to believe what we’re involved in is the “most important,” and that the tools and methods we use are “the best.” That’s why God’s wisdom points us toward the power of humility, of valuing one another and not just ourselves. How can God-given wisdom and love turn “win/lose” conflicts toward the promise of “win/win” outcomes? What must happen in us so that we see stronger relationships as a bigger “win” than always getting our way? How can you act with confidence (in a church ministry, your work, your family, or just your own life) out of humility rather than pride?

Lord Jesus, you’ve called me to join with others in carrying out your mission in the world. I commit myself to use the gifts you’ve given me in humble harmony with other members of your body for your purposes. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Blake Thomas

Blake Thomas

Blake Thomas serves as the Director of Student Ministry at Resurrections West. Blake is an Olathe, KS, native, and has also lived in Chicago serving in different ministry capacities. He earned a double B.A. in Youth Ministry and Bible & Theology from North Park University, and a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. During his time in Chicago he served as a camp program director, youth pastor, and hospital chaplain. He loves getting to journey alongside students at Resurrection!

This past Wednesday each Resurrection Student Ministry discussed the topic of technology in connection to the sermon series. Afterall…who has better insight into the positive and negative forces of technology than students!

I decided to be vulnerable and share my average weekly screen time with students. Last week my average daily screen time was 2 hours, 47 minutes. I will admit…I am not proud of this. When I shared my screen time to students it was met with a gasp and some laughter. Immediately my embarrassment sank deeper. In our small group time, I invited high school students to look up their own screen time. What I quickly learned was my time was way less compared to students in the room. Students laughed as they went around and shared their screen time. Multiple students said, “my average is 5…6…8 hours daily!” I’ll admit I felt a strong sense of pride and self-accomplishment for only being at 2 hours and 47 minutes after hearing what the average screen time was for some of the students.

I realized that it wasn’t the number that shocked me, it was that the 2+ hours of screen time reflected missed opportunities and conversations that could have taken place. Our pride or self-agenda can drive our technology usage. Our weekly screen time can almost become a weekly “pride check in” because it points out ways we are putting our actions, plans, and direction before God.

However, as I’m checking in on my pride, I’d be remiss to leave out the time I spent on my screen participating in the positive impact social media and technology can have. Your average screen time could reflect positive conversations, advocacy, and spiritual growth. When we choose to use technology to encourage one another or communities, we are embracing this tool we have been gifted. While some students shared that they spend hours scrolling, other students shared how they use technology to check in on friends, share posts advocating for important issues, or following faith-based accounts to be reminded of God’s presence throughout the day. While 5 or 6 hours on the phone can seem like a lot, it can also be used for good and spreading Christ’s love.

Howard Thurman in his book Meditations of the Heart says, “This is the secret of humility—I cannot be humble unless I have truly found something about which I must be humble. There can be no health in me, nothing but a sickening arrogance and stalking pride until my relation to God scales me down to size.” *

The notification of our average screen time can quickly become a moment in which God is trying to scale us down to size. It is in this moment that we can pause and reflect on how we are responding to the things God gives us. Ephesians 4:7 says, “God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ.” Choosing to be humble means embracing the moments you have allowed pride to get in the way and walking back into the grace God gives us.

Our students remind me that we are all guilty of spending a lot of time on our phone. But they also give me hope in seeing the ways technology gives us the chance to respond to God’s grace each day. If you’re looking for a bit of humility today…I encourage you to look up your average screen time (if you have an iPhone, you can find your screen time in your settings in the section titled “screen time”). Give yourself grace for wherever it lands! Allow that average to stir something up in your heart and see how God is at work in your heart this week each time you pick up your phone.

* Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart (Boston: Beacon Press, 1953), 177.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* From article by Becky Little at

** I-Jin Loh and Howard A. Hatton, A Handbook on the Letter from James. New York: United Bible Societies, 1997, p. 122.