Thursday, November 8, 2007

Words to Live By: Pride

pride, noun
1. inordinate self-esteem.
2. ostentatious display.
3. pleasure in one's accomplishments.
4. Biblical: being puffed up with self.
5. Personal: the ungodly version of self-confidence.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
-1 Peter 5:5

Pride and grace dwelt never in one place.
-James Kelly

The Greek word for pride means to be "puffed up"; in other words, pride makes people think themselves large when there actually isn't anything there. Image a frog that is able to bloat himself to more than twice his size; he looks big, but there isn't anything to his increased size but air. The negative version of pride is what results when someone thinks more highly of himself than he ought. He is confident, but only in his own strength. He thinks himself superior, but without really having cause. This kind of pride leads to a fall, to sin, and to destruction.

This kind of pride is what moved Lucifer to exalt himself against God and lead the angels to rebel. It moved Adam and Eve to aspire to be gods themselves rather than honor the God who made them. It made Nimrod build Babel, Pharaoh persecute the Jews of Egypt, and even some of Jesus' disciples. This kind of pride is a lie, a deception. Proud people are easily hurt, easily offended, and easily angered; proud people can't invest themselves in what they are made to be because they are always concerned with how they appear and whether they are honored in the eyes of others.

Worst of all, false pride keeps people from living in the good kind of pride. Surprise, there is a good kind of pride, and it is quite clear in Scripture. The New Testament uses the word pride in a positive manner more than half a dozen times; God tells believers that they should test their actions so they can take pride in themselves. The good kind of pride is what the false kind drives out. Good pride is a kind of confidence, a sense of accomplishment and completion; it is both an attitude and a way of living that draws from a good history in God. It is what the godly feel when they look at their lives, see the hand of God active in their affairs, and know they are fulfilling the will of God. Righteous pride is a confidence in God and his promises; righteous pride is knowing who you are in God; righteous pride is a sense of well-being that comes from godly achievement. False pride is assuming a spirituality that isn't really there; false pride draws arrogantly from things, images, and fantasies.

Take stock of your own life for a moment. How has false pride puffed you up or distorted your view of yourself? Then again, where have you been resisting a godly form of pride in the assumption that it is unrighteous? Repent of the false, welcome the good, and let the confident humility of righteous pride invade your life.

I don't feel that I am a proud arrogant person. But I do have a problem with stubborn pride. I have a problem with knowing when to put my proud self aside and give my problems to God. I want to keep them and deal with them or take care of them myself. I end up letting them harden my heart instead of soften it. Why? I don't know. I'm stubborn. I don't know when to call mercy, to say uncle. But am I a confident proud person? No, I don't think so, I think quite the opposite, not very confident at all. But how do I relinquish my problems and not hold on to them? How do I release things and give God control?

I've become more aware of my proud, stubborn, hording problem lately. God has really been revealing things to me that I need to work on. Pride, forgiveness, grace and mercy. But I don't know how.

God, I want to be proud of you, proud of your people, and proud of my history in your ways. I don't want to artificially puff myself up and miss your grace. Help me, God, and give me the right kind of confidence in you.

No comments: