Is Pride really such a bad thing?
Recently I was given an assignment from my theology course in Birmingham. My task was to write a talk or seminar on the subject of pride, using the book of Proverbs.
It felt like a difficult talk to write, and an uncomfortable subject to engage with. I was surprised and alarmed to see how strongly God feels about our pride. To be honest I had started off thinking about it kind of in the abstract. But by the end of the assignment I felt like God had completely dismantled me!
The ever-quotable C.S Lewis describes Pride as the “…one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.”
I’ve definitely found this to be true, but as I have looked in the mirror of God’s word, I have begun to see my true reflection, and I hope the following thoughts will be helpful!
There is a right type of pride that we should take, in things that are worthy of praise. We should celebrate achievement, we should rejoice in what is good. We should put effort into what we do, and be proud when we, or those that we love succeed!
In fact to many outside the church, the idea of wrongful pride being a serious issue would be laughable.
And yet Proverbs tells us that the Lord “detests all the proud of heart.” (Prov 16:5)
Even the familiar phrase “Pride goes before a fall” is phrased far more strongly in Proverbs than I had remembered: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov 16:18)
Why does God take pride so seriously and warn us of its consequences?
When I first began my research on this topic I found a very perceptive remark in a dictionary:
The emphasis placed on pride, and its converse humility, is a distinctive feature of biblical religion, unparalleled in other religious or ethical systems. Rebellious pride, which refuses to depend on God and be subject to him, but attributes to self the honour due to him, figures as the very root and essence of sin.
If you are anything like me then you probably tend to think about pride in relation to other people, and we all know that it can be a damaging attitude. But when Proverbs speaks of pride, It is always in relation to God. Pride credits the praise and worship due to God, to ourselves.
Good news for the proud Christian:
No Christian escapes pride entirely, and much as we love to spot it in others, only we can deal with it in our own hearts with God’s help!
We should remind ourselves often, that all we have comes from our good God. And meditate on the wealth of scripture that speaks of Pride’s opposite, humility.
Proverbs 3:34 says: He…gives grace to the humble. Chapter 11:2 tells us that: With the humble is wisdom. And 22:4 says that: Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life.
We imitate our humble saviour “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing….
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians2:6-8
Whenever I read these verses in Philippians it stops me in my tracks – whether I’m annoyed because I’ve been patronised, or snubbed, or not given the respect I feel I deserve!
My saviour put up with all of this in his time on earth in a far greater way than anything I will ever experience!
Ultimately it is as we spend time meditating on the gospel of grace, that our pride will be dealt with, from the inside out.