Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with the following image?
How about this one?
And this one?
Oops, I’m sensing some confusion. Did you think I was going to talk about homosexuality? Sorry to disappoint, my intrepid readers. Today’s post may be a bit more controversial than that. Bigotry? No. Today, I’m going to talk about a sin that isn’t often discussed in these turbulent, modern times: pride.
We live in a world consumed with pride. Pride for our accomplishments. Pride for our children. Pride for our cultural heritage, our country, our religious denominations, our houses, cars, bank accounts and sports teams. There are gay pride parades and black pride campaigns and American pride rallies. Our schools promote school pride with logos, mascots, banners and bake sales. There are scores of raving maniacs who will tear each other limb from limb on the field after a football game (soccer or American football) because pride in their beloved team was shattered by a loss.
The Bible, however, has some interesting things to say about pride:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor (Proverbs 29:23).
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5).
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:3-4).
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips (Proverbs 27:2).
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:16).
Our modern culture, unfortunately, has confused pride with self-confidence. Feeling oppressed? Discouraged? Discriminated against? Has someone crushed your feelings? The answer: Get some pride. Flaunt what you’ve got. Raise your fist and your voice. Piss off your critics. Rub their noses in your existence. Show them that you’re a force to be reckoned with and that you ain’t going anywhere.
Except that pride is no substitute for self-confidence. They aren’t the same.
Pride is a vain conceit. It says, “Look at me. I’m better than you.” Pride is self-absorbed. It’s preoccupied with one’s own reputation and well-being. Pride is divisive. It stimulates an “us vs. them” mentality. Wherever pride pokes its huffy nose, a battle is sure to ensue.
Self-confidence, on the other hand, doesn’t need to shout or make a scene to make itself heard or respected. It doesn’t need to lash out or take revenge on critics. Self-confidence is nurturing rather than condescending or provoking. It is a calm, quiet assurance of self-worth emanating from the soul.
And then there’s humility, which Jesus commanded his followers to have. Humility is the true opposite of pride, because its primary concern is the well-being of others. Having pride is no guarantee of possessing self-confidence. But being humble enough to pursue the welfare of others usually means a person is secure in himself. Just something I’ve learned.
Know what else is the opposite of pride? Love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Envy. Boasting. Dishonoring. Self-seeking. Angered. In this verse, we not only have the mention of pride, we get a full description of it, too. The Apostle Paul sure was bent on hammering home this concept: Wherever pride is, love will be absent. They cannot share space in the same heart.
The Bible also says that whenever we as human beings take part in pride, we are setting ourselves up for humiliation, pain and failure. We all know a person who once rambled on and on about his abilities only to lose face in the most embarrassing way five minutes later. Wounded pride can quickly morph into a monster. People do not take humiliation lightly. They become angry, bitter, and depressed. They often attack the catalysts and witnesses of their downfall.
The first sin in biblical history was one of pride. No, not the one in the garden of Eden. The one that got Lucifer (Satan) cast out of heaven:
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
The famous theologian Thomas Aquinas had this to say about pride:
“Inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin. […] The root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule.”
Pride goes before a fall–a fall into sin.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t strive for justice or equality, or that they should walk around with heads hung in shame. But when people invite pride into the picture to help them in that struggle, they’re asking for emotional devastation. I believe the division and violence in our society can be directly boiled down to a lack of love and rampant, overweening pride in its place. Unfortunately, pride doesn’t satisfy the soul. It can’t fill the empty places in the heart, only enlarge them. Pride also blinds people to reality; they become so engrossed in promoting and protecting their own supposed superiority (or their culture’s/nation’s/doctrine’s supposed superiority) that they fail to recognize their shortcomings or the needs of others.
I get nervous whenever I hear of fellow Christians participating in pride events. Because I know that anything with the label of pride stamped on it is bound to cause contention and pain. What if, instead of Gay Pride, we had Gay Appreciation? Or instead of Black Pride we had Black Love? Perhaps we’d see less of this:
And more of this:
Less of this:
And more of this:
Less of this:
And more of this:
Just a thought.
He has showed you, O, man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God.
Perhaps you might also have a go at the difference between vulnerability and weakness. Journeying through Lent and Holy Week should make the the difference obvious, but sometimes the confusion persists.
I appreciate your thoughts.
I appreciate your comments! 🙂
I agree. I don’t like those words.
Agreed! Thanks for the great post. I will say, however, that I don’t think the word “pride” is always used to say what it really means anymore. When I say that I’m proud of my daughter, I don’t mean – “Wow, she’s superior, and it’s because I made her that way.” It probably just means, “I feel so thrilled that you made a good choice or learned something new.” But it is sometimes tough to discern the origin of such feelings and remember to give credit where credit is due. 🙂