What images do the words “pride” and “proud” bring to mind? Images of victory-dances in the end-zone by some overpaid football player? Hollywood “stars” strutting their stuff, as they accept yet another award? Politicians bragging about how much “they” have done? Tabloids showing all the latest fashions, modeled by top super-models? Yes, these are the everyday images of PRIDE…the images of people who are obsessed with themselves. They are taking ALL the credit for their talents and abilities.
What is pride? From Websters dictionary; Pride: a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people, a feeling that you are more important or better than other people, a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc. A synonym of pride is conceit.
Some pride can be good, as long as it is not misplaced. A parent may be proud of the achievements of their children, and as long as that doesn’t turn into the parent redirecting the accolades to themselves, it is reasonable and appropriate. National pride can be good in small doses, but for a person to look down on another, because they aren’t of the same nationality is wrong. Americans swelled with pride every time Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless The USA/I’m Proud To Be An American” in the days and weeks following the 9-11 attacks. We had perhaps greater national unity in those times than we had experienced in many years.
What I want to focus on though is that inward-directed emotion, that says “I deserve respect”, or “Look how wonderful I am”, or the deepest, most narcissistic of all, “I am better that you”, or “I am more important than you”. That kind of pride is an obsession with self. Who is your god? Self-obsessed pride is in direct opposition to God.
Aren’t Christians immune to pride? Doesn’t the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make self-obsession impossible? I wish the answer was “YES”, but sadly the true answer is a resounding “NO”. We aren’t immune to pride. In a previous piece, “Who Is YOUR “god”?, I mentioned a couple of things from my own life…times when I was self-obsessed…times when I was PROUD. My life would have been so much easier if God had decisively struck pride from my life, but He hasn’t.
I remember an event from 1997, which shows just how deep my pride problem is. As I was leaving a 12-step meeting, a friend, who had been in many meetings with me, turned to me and said “Steve, you are the proudest person I have ever met.” Had he not inserted the “Steve”, I might have been able to wonder who he was talking to, but he left no doubt. Why was I PROUD? What did I have to be PROUD of? I was in a 12-step group…for sexual addiction. I had fallen to the lowest of the low…sexual addiction, and I was a porn addict on top of it. That wasn’t anything to be PROUD of, but PRIDE had obviously come through loud and clear from what I said in those meetings. I was stunned. I was a PROUD sinner.
How did I do in church today with my singing? Before the service, I asked God to take over my singing, and make it to His glory, not mine. God succeeded! I still enjoyed singing, but God got all the glory, not me. With His enabling, I hope to continue to sing His praises, not my own.
I mentioned that pride is in direct opposition to God. Why? Because, when we are proud, we are telling God that we are more important than He is. If we are more important than God, we are placing ourselves in His place, and we are demoting the very God of the universe. We are making ourselves “god”. It is that plain and simple. God and pride don’t mix.