We become arrogant when we forget that God is our primary provider. Sometimes we give too much credit to our hard work and ingenuity. We easily forget the advantages of our upbringing, heritage, and education, and we view ourselves, even if unconsciously, as better than others, particularly the poor.
Some of us talk about people needing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Yet had we not had stable parents or gone to a good school or had positive role models, we might have grown up without bootstraps—or even boots. As has been said in other contexts, many rich people who were born on third base routinely congratulate themselves for hitting a triple.
Scripture says, “Value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NIV). Our example is Jesus, who humbly gave up the place in Heaven he fully deserved (Philippians 2:3-11). We must fight our misplaced pride, remembering that the air we breathe, the lungs with which we breathe it, and our ability to make money are from God’s generous hand (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Pride, by its very nature, is self-focused. If we live for the purpose of celebrating our own greatness, we’ll endure small, pitiful lives. But if we focus on God’s greatness and live to serve others, then we will, in the best sense, live large.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stargazing. For many years, night after night, I went outside, needing something bigger than myself to be in awe of. While I gazed at the wonders of the universe, I was not thinking about myself (I could have stayed warm indoors and done that!). Similarly, as an adult, I love snorkeling. Sometimes for hours on end, I’m immersed in ocean waters, lost in the wonder and worship of God, and I’m therefore supremely happy. Giving is one of the ways we can take a step back and recognize there’s something much bigger than ourselves—and then to stand in awe as we realize God is at work and that He invites us to play a part in it!