Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware, because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. (Romans 11:17-21)
Put simply; we should never be proud in our faith. Our faith in God is a gift to us and does not originate with us. Paul is cautioning the new Gentile believers not to think too highly of themselves or look down their noses at the Jewish people who rejected their Messiah. The Gentiles were grafted into the family of God the same way a gardener might graft a branch into a life-giving tree. Jesus had said that God prunes his people the same way a gardener prunes a tree, cutting off branches that don’t bear fruit while cultivating those that do. Here we see this pruning in real-time historical events.
Pride makes Christians look spiritually ugly and has no place among people who are saved purely by grace. When someone is prideful, they are claiming credit for themselves that belongs to God. The antidote for pridefulness is humility. We enact humility by continually giving praise to God for everything. Paul’s caution to the new Gentile believers is good wisdom for us today.
Lord God, thank you for incorporating me into the family of faith. I acknowledge that my faith originates with you and that the totality of my journey rests in your keeping. Keep me humble before you and let pridefulness be far from me.