Vain Conceit

At the end of the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (vs. 26).

Apparently, we need to be warned against these things, so let’s consider first what it means to be conceited, and how women may fall into this temptation. Even sweet Christian women. I doubt many of us think that we are conceited. But if we think about it more carefully, we might see how we give way to conceit more than we realize.

What is conceit? Basically, conceit is thinking too highly of ourselves. When we are full of ourselves, when we are self-absorbed, when we are focusing too much on our own needs, our own achievements or gifts, we are being conceited. This is antithetical to walking in the Spirit. It is fleshly. Natural. Not Spiritual. When we are walking in the Spirit, we are thinking of others, we are humble. But when we are conceited, we think we are hot stuff.

As a side note, there is such a thing as negative conceit. That is when we are still thinking about ourselves, but instead of thinking too highly of ourselves, we devote our time to thinking about what big losers we are. This is still being self-absorbed, and it is not walking in the Spirit. To be self-forgetful is to be in Heaven! It is hard not to be self-centered, self-absorbed, self-focused. Our flesh enjoys it. But if we are walking in the Spirit, we will have the power to deny ourselves and think of others.

In marriage, wives can become conceited, thinking they know best about pretty much everything. This conceit manifests itself when a wife becomes bossy and domineering, when she doesn’t listen and refuses to be persuaded. Conceit nags and complains about how much her husband is not meeting her needs, because her own needs are the only ones she sees. This kind of conceit, if not checked, can turn a woman into a tyrant.

Women can become conceited in their friendships when they boast about their blessings, whether it is about how many kids they have, how in shape they are, how many people they have to dinner, how smart their children are, how much their husbands make, or even how evangelistic they are. This stems from an underlying competition that wants to elbow its way to the front of the line. Our flesh likes to compete, to be better than someone else, to get the best seat. It’s a sure way of having no friends.

Mothers can be conceited toward their own children. What do you know anyway? I’m the mom around here. The most important thing is what I want, not what you want. Conceit fires off commands, criticizes, and provokes.

You get the idea. Conceit is anti-walking in the Spirit. It is not a spiritual fruit, but a bad work. Conceit is anti-community; it disrupts the fellowship we should be enjoying with one another and stumbles our loved ones.

The good news is that God can deliver us from our petty conceit. He gives us His Spirit and enables us to walk in the Spirit. So let’s be done with the conceit and replace it with kindness and gentleness,  meekness and humility. Our husbands, our friends, our children will be the better for it.

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13 thoughts on “Vain Conceit

  1. i think this is rampant in christian society. I too have been guilty of this. Thank You for putting a name to it. I was reading and waiting to see how not to do this. I wanted more practical ways. I see I all need to pray and have God show me where am I guilty of this. I think you can fake kindness, gentleness, meekness and humility. It genuinely has to be a desire to rid oneself of this sin. I think as a mother if I want my child to have this quality he needs to see it in me too!
    I really appreciate you bringing up the ways we are conceited.

    thank you

  2. I tend to be conceited because other people around me are, which of course is a dumb reason. I’ll need to work on this one.

  3. Amen! I am also reminded of 1 Corinthians 8:1 “…This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” And, in light of that verse, I have an even fuller appreciation today for the command regarding “speaking the truth in love.”

  4. This was a great post! I think, “Even sweet Christian women,” was an under statement! I know for sure I am guilty of this, usually in my case it begins with comparison and then a need to build my self up. How great though if we would truly as Christian wives/mothers/sisters seek to build one another up in love….what would that look like?!

  5. I have been struck more lately by the opposite of conceit disguised as humility- thinking perhaps too little of ourselves. That too is sin but it looks so dang humble.

    Flippantly deciding not to attend a wedding, a party a dinner because no one will notice. Seeing someone and choosing not to go out of our way to greet them because they won’t care; basically thinking that we don’t have to put out because we just aren’t that important.

    That too is sin. It is thinking so highly of ourselves, that we are too important to consider another above ourselves.

    Outright conceit is right out there, it’s the false humility that is far easier to pass off as righteousness.

  6. I have to agree with Terri on this one. I think that “conceit disguised as humility” is the uglier sister sin simply because it comes off as so holy. It is never really seen for what it is- sin. In fact it is often nurtured as a good thing.

  7. oh yes, well put! This reminds me of Mere Christianity where C S Lewis says pride is the anti-God state of mind and we would do better to not think of ourselves at all . . .

  8. Great post… thank you so much! Even if it is hard to swallow, I am grateful because I know the Lord disciplines those he loves. Thank you for helping bring to light something I should pay more attention to in my attitude. God bless you.

  9. It comes And goes,its a daily battle And rebuke it In The name Jesus far From me. The spirit advises me To be careful Of these things. Love u guys,, Thank u!!

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