“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”–Luke 22:24–26
On the night before the crucifixion, when Jesus was talking to the disciples about how He was looking forward to Heaven and explaining once again His role as the sacrifice for sin, the disciples were arguing over which of them should have the most prominent role in His kingdom. They were filled with pride and came into conflict. The Greek word translated strife indicates not just a conflict, but an eagerness to do battle.
At the root of our strife is the insistence that pride makes on having preeminence and having our own way. “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10). It is hard for us to overcome pride because it appeals to us so much. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
We do not often recognize pride in our own lives, though we easily detect it in others. Rather than humbling ourselves as God commands, we indulge our pride and feel much better about ourselves than we should. This inevitably brings us into conflict with those around us and destroys the unity that should characterize Christians. When our focus is on ourselves rather than on God, we will find it easy to fall into the trap of pride.