In The World But Not Of The World

Day 5 of 7 • This day’s reading


Fear and Pride

Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land. - Num 14:9

Quick, grab a pen and a sheet of paper. Write down the reasons for which you work. Write only practical, day-to-day motives. No ‘mother earth’ statements. And start by writing down the negative motives first. For example, fear of being thought of as useless. Next, write the positive motives. For example, it provides a platform for creativity.

Are you done? Now try to classify all the motives you have listed into two categories – fear and pride. My guess is that you should be able to fit almost all your motives into either of these two categories. Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century preacher, was the first to talk about fear and pride.

The performance-driven culture of the world instills these two motives deep inside our hearts. Here is how.

Once someone appreciates your work, then that becomes a bar or benchmark. You never want to fall below that bar. You will do anything to ensure you stay above it. Raising the bar and earning the appreciation of others becomes the goal. This is pride. You forget that the real aim of raising the bar is not your glory, but the service of others.

And even as pride starts driving you, fear kicks in too. Not only does your pride demand that you keep earning the appreciation of others, but you start fearing the consequences if you don’t scale up to the bar.

Fear and pride are a deadly combination. They put you under pressure to perform and cause anxiety and stress. They are also enslaving – once you get on the treadmills of fear and pride, there is no getting off.

Only the Gospel can destroy both the fear and pride in us. Jesus Christ took away the worst possible consequence we could ever face – the fear of hell. He did that by humbling Himself to death, even death on a cross. It was 100 percent His performance; we contributed nothing. Therefore, there is nothing for us to be proud of.

Father God, help me to consider the cross. Help me to dwell in the Gospel daily so that fear and pride may lose their grip over me. Amen