Perhaps more blatant is the Pharisee who stood and prayed with himself, thanking God that he was not like other men (Luke 18:11)—as if the God of heaven Himself would be prompted to offer His creature a round of applause for his excellence. Our prayers can echo the same arrogance.
Do you have an itch to be known for your good deeds? Do you resent your spiritual labors being overlooked? Do you let it be known just what you are doing for King Jesus? Do you express public gratitude for your wonderful opportunities to serve? Do you loudly wish that you could do more in the kingdom? Do you put yourself down so that others might quickly lift you up? This is the kind of pride that we easily tolerate in ourselves and in the church.
True modesty has no need to pretend and no wish to draw attention to itself. Paul calls every Christian “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3, NKJV). It is not humble to deny that Christ has given you graces and gifts to serve in His body. In Philippians 2, we are urged to do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind to let each esteem others better than himself. We must look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3–5). Do I have the mind of Christ? Can I serve silently, cheerfully, and secretly, content for others to be lifted up and for God alone to see me?