Problematic Pride

The title of this post suggests that certain types of pride are not problematic. This is true. But generally when we speak of pride, we talk about it in a negative manner: ‘He’s jumped up!’ ‘She’s full of herself!’ ‘He blows his own trumpet constantly!’ ‘All she can talk about is herself!’ All of these statements talk about bad pride. And the main reason why I’m writing this post is because after reading a lot recently, the subject of pride has come up frequently.

Is God saying something to me? Yes. I think he is. He’s reminding me that pride is the sin that causes people to say ‘I don’t need God’. It’s pride that caused the Devil to fall from heaven. Pride is one of the sins that if you let it take control, will become a dictator of your life and push you into a fast track lane to hell. Pride is serious sin. And I’m not going to talk about it lightly. You’ve heard of pastors and ministers and vicars whose ministries have been wrecked, haven’t you? Most of the time, it’s because of pride. Self conceit. And the unfortunate reality is that we all get bad pride. And it’s something that I must admit to more often if I have a hope in hell of battling it.

C S Lewis said,

If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

He’s saying that we’re all conceited. And if you examine yourself closely, I think that you’d agree. We all have those moments when we don’t like someone else showing off because it’s taking the limelight off of us, and we hate it when someone’s better at football, or netball, or sewing, or playing an instrument because we want to be better. We hate it if someone has more money than us, because they can afford to splash cash on people and we want to do that so that we feel good and everyone else tells us how good we are. PRIDE. Amongst other sins, I should add.

Now, I have to explain something here. Some people will say, “Very well then, is it wrong for me to be proud of your country? Or proud of your son?” or something similar. Well, let’s just stop for a moment. What does “proud” in this context mean? Well I would argue that it meant that you’re fond of, you love or you’re very affectionate of your country, or son, or something else. That is not bad pride. Because you’re delighted in the works of someone else! And at other times, being proud of something is just a figure of speech for saying you’re happy with that thing. I hope you follow…

Another point to make – finding that you’re happy because someone has praised you is not pride either. The reason one is praised is because you have done something that has caused another person to be happy. This is an altogether good thing.

These two considerations do not mean that we should become relaxed about pride. I’ve recently been faced with a question that’s given me a right kick up the backside. If I am a Christian, and claim to be Christ loving and obedient to His teaching and ways, then there is no room for pride. In fact, pride that I had before coming to know Jesus must be replaced for humility. It is in humility that we manage to hold to almost all other Christian virtues (which I must stress are purely Christian) such as forgiveness, charity, meekness and so on. It is impossible to be pride-free at all times, because it is a natural human instinct right from when sin entered the world for us to seek self centredness and affirmation in oneself rather than seeking Christ centredness and affirmation in the love and grace of Christ himself. Yet when pride creeps in, there is only one route we must take as Christians, and that is to kill pride. We weren’t given the armour of God just to look nice, you know.

Anyone who persistently harbours and grows and nurtures pride and claims to be a Christian is fooling him/herself, I believe. Because it will be pride that is their god, their dictator, their master. Jesus will only, at best, be on the sidelines. And therefore to be in this state permanently is completely contradictory to what a Christian is. Part of the whole identity of being a Christian is realising that you’re a measly worm, rotten to the core and in need of a wonderful grace which gives what you don’t deserve and pays what you cannot earn. And the grace that I’m talking about is Jesus Christ.

Readers, let’s get onto pride and kill it off before it kills us off. There’s no one I’m preaching to more than I am to myself. There are times and instances in my life which I wish I could completely erase, because my pig headed, proud ways and attitudes have hurt others, they’ve hurt myself, and they’ve hindered any growth and development in my relationship with Christ. I don’t mean to sound miserable and negative, but I’ve really been moved and challeneged by all the talk about pride recently, and I think that just how I needed to be reminded that it is Jesus who is God, and not myself, so does the church.

Over to you – any thoughts on the issue of pride?

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • I don’t get it. What’s wrong with jumping up? Everybody does. Kids do it. Adults do. Hell, even monkeys do it, trying to get to some other tree limb. Physical activity would do us all a lot of good, and I say that from a sedentary lifestyle.

    • I don’t know whether this is sarcasm, or genuine… haha!

      If this is genuine, have you ever heard Gordon Ramsay? He uses the phrase ‘jumped up’ a lot 😉

      If this is sarcasm, it did make me chuckle! 🙂

      • Sorry, I have no idea who that is or, still, what that expression means.

        • It’s just another term for being self conceited – a British term might I add…

          • Ah. Well, there you go. Incidentally, I looked up Gordon Ramsay since and I have to say that “self-conceited” is not a term I would apply. “Lacks impulse control” I think is a better term, but then again, it’s also the perfect term for most public celebrities.

  • A great post, and one that is relevant to me.

    My father in law hasn’t used the term proud for many years. He says that there isn’t a quote in the bible that refers to pride being positive. he even takes it as far that he never tells his children he is proud of them, or proud of what the church is doing etc. In particular, he quotes the baptism of Jesus, where God says “This is my son, in who I am well pleased”. God didn’t use the term proud, and so my father in law doesn’t either. He will however, use the term pleased.

    His attitude has been impressed on my wife and I, where we are using the term proud less, mainly because of the possible connotation that it could contain.

    • Interesting, Dave. Thanks for posting!

  • Phil

    In 2 Corinthinans 7:4 Paul says “I have great pride in you” in the ESV. Same word in NIV and NLT. Others have “boasting” or “rejoicing”. All three words can have positive and negative connotations. The point is what the focus of the pride, boasting, or rejoicing is. In Paul’s case it is obvious that he is ultimately bragging about what God has done.o

    • Gotta agree with you on this one Phil.  Like I said, pride is good in the right context.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂