Some glory in their shame which is contradictory enough. But to be proud of a free gift we had to be humbled to receive is surely most contradictory of all.
Apparently it was C H Spurgeon who cautioned:
“Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace”.
When this is quoted it is often said that pride of grace is the worst. Pride is a spiritual sin and pride in spiritual things must therefore be the worst kind of pride. The Puritans often emphasised that it was the sin of sins, the one that God hates most (see Proverbs 6:16 and James 4:6). It is idolatry and robs God of His glory. This is why pride in grace is so dangerous.
William Gurnall pointed out that while grace itself cannot be proud yet we ourselves can be proud of it. He expounds at greater length the two aspects of pride in grace that Andrew Gray (1633-1656) makes clear in a much more pithy way. These are trusting in either its strength or its worth. It is depending on grace without depending on God. That is, secretly depending on grace as though it was part of our own ability. Gray says:
O beware of pride in grace: trusting in its strength or relying on its worth. Should the mud wall be proud because the sun shines on it? If you are proud in this way you will be delivered into the devil’s hands by some terrible fall. Your confidence will then be cut off. Peter’s example may scare you. His confidence was high. Even though all men would be offended because of Christ yet he would not be. Yet he was soon dismounted when he denied Christ with cursing.
Your grace will wither and dwindle if you pride yourself in it. Remember, pride is both a sin and a solemn sign of a diseased soul. A complacent attitude that is difficult to cure. It is the cancer of our comforts and the poison of our duties. Indeed, it nourishes all sin. If a man is proud, it is to be feared that he lacks that which (in his opinion) he has mastered. You cannot endure spiritual pride in others and can God endure it in you? Where does God store up the richest wines of the choicest mercies? Is it not in the lowest cellars of humble hearts?
Remember, pride is the mark of the devil’s slaves, but humility is the mark of Christ’s followers…Say with the apostle, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). I pray, yet not I, but the Spirit prays in me. I do duties, yet not I, but Christ helps me to do them.
Extracted and updated from A Door Unto Everlasting Life.