“The greatest hindrance to our being used by God today is that He has used us in the past.”

The highway of history is strewn with the wreckage of great ministries that were destroyed by the pride of achievement. Throughout Scripture, we see God’s swift and severe judgment upon the sin of pride. It was through pride that Satan lost his splendor and place in heaven. (See Isaiah 14:12-15.)

Through the prideful desire to “be like God,” Adam and Eve lost their marvelous state of perfection in God’s garden. Pride caused Herod to accept the adulation of the people, and immediately the Lord smote him so that he died. (See Acts 12:21-23.) Through pride, King Nebuchadnezzar declared, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built,” and the same hour he was stricken with madness. (See Daniel 4:28-33.)

Scripture states that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). When God resists us because of pride, our effectiveness for Him is destroyed. For this reason, Jesus set a little child in the midst of His disciples and stated, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

The key that opens doors to greatness can also lock them if we become proud of our achievements. Some of us are aware of “a little pride” in our lives and excuse it as harmless and insignificant. However, when we are proud, God will oppose us until we follow His instructions to “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (I Peter 5:6).

Some practical ways in which we can humble ourselves are to:

• Quickly acknowledge faults and shortcomings, and ask forgiveness of those whom we have hurt or offended. “Confess your faults one to another …” (James 5:16).
• Cheerfully volunteer to do menial tasks at home, at church, or anywhere you see a need. Also, express sincere appreciation to others who carry out these tasks.
• Be willing to associate with people who are usually overlooked or treated with disdain by others. Spend time with them. Invite them to a meal. Take interest in their lives, and look for ways you can be a blessing to them.
• Look for qualities to praise in the people around you.

In lowliness of mind let each esteem other[s] better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).

When Jesus is facing death, His disciples are still talking about greatness and earthly ambition. In this passage He contrasts the world’s view of greatness with greatness in the Kingdom.

Greatness in the world is determined by status, in the Kingdom by function. In the world, greatness is demonstrated by ruling, in the Kingdom by serving. In the eyes of the world, the great are those ordering others around. In the Kingdom, the great are those who endure tough times and injustice without complaining.