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Pride

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Pride

Written By: Scott Walsh 

Sports lend themselves to the dramatic. In baseball there’s the walk-off home run. In basketball, it’s the 30-footer at the buzzer in a tie game. In football it’s the goal-line stand on the last series of the game. 

In our sport, hockey, it’s the jaw-dropping goal off a give-and-go between a wing and a center that twists the goaltender into a pretzel as time expires, or the physics-defying acrobatics of a goalie wrapping his glove around a seemingly unreachable puck on a two-on-none breakaway. They’re the moments that define the game.

Too often, they are also the moments that define us. When we are the one that scores that goal or makes that save—or when we’re the one that leads the league in our stat of choice—it is very, very easy get wrapped up in the glory and think that it is all about us, to become prideful in our performance and to boast of our achievements.

But the truth is, doing so is stealing, pure and simple. It is taking something that belongs to another. It is claiming as our own achievements that should rightfully give glory and honor to God.

Pride and humility are two sides of a coin. In our topsy-turvy culture, humility is seen as weakness, and pride is considered strength. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is pride? Pride is all about self—self-sufficiency, self-importance and self-agrandizement. It shuns God and the gifts that He blesses us with that allow us to do the occasionally great things we do and takes all the credit, boasting in things that could never occur without Him.

Pride is as old as man—indeed, it is older than man, for it was pride that led Satan to believe that he could be on par with, if not above, God Almighty Himself. Pride is the real original sin, and like Original Sin it was/is/will be present in each and every human that walks the Earth.

I’m not contradicting the Bible when I say that, while the love of money may be the root of all evil, it is not the root of all sin. That, I believe, is pride. When the creature (you) believes it outranks the Creator (God), you have a problem.

The modern world would have us believe that it is good to be proud and boastful and arrogant and self-exalting. Look no further than the celebration of all things Kardashian and the simultaneous denouncing of former quarterback Tim Tebow and Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy for the simple act of taking a knee to thank the One who blessed them.

(In an upside-down world that tries to tell us that there are a virtually infinite number of genders [see Genesis 5:2], that marriage can be between any two people, regardless of their gender [see Matthew 19:5] and that it is perfectly acceptable to sleep with whomever you want, whenever you want [see 1 Corinthians 6:9], perhaps it is no coincidence that those who support and propogate the homosexual agenda refer so often to “pride”—pride parades and pride days and pride rallies. The world is truly upside down. Evil is called good and good, evil. Sinning against a Holy and Mighty God is nothing to be proud of. Ever.)

The passage below is from an exceptional treatise on the subjects of pride and humility called (ironically) “Pride and Humility.” It is by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min., and originally appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Knowing and Doing from the C.S. Lewis Institute. I could find no better summation of the nature of pride than this (you can read the entire article here, and I strongly encourage you to do so):

“If your pride causes you to exalt yourself, you are painting a target on your back and inviting God to open fire. And he will. For he has declared his determination to bring it low wherever he finds it, whether among angels or humans, believers or unbelievers. It was pride that caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven and Adam and Eve to be cast out of Eden. And it is pride that will be our undoing if we tolerate it in our lives. The danger of pride is a sobering reality that each of us needs to ponder. Truly, it is our greatest enemy.”

Is it OK to take pride in an outstanding goal, or a record-setting season or even in the accomplishments of your son or daughter? I’ve wrestled with this myself, and I’m not 100% certain, but this is where I’ve settled: God says, in His Word, that pride is bad. This isn’t a Divinely gray area; He doesn’t mince words. However, on the other hand, the Bible often talks of joy and urges us to rejoice. 

I’m not sure what the theological difference is between pride and joy or rejoicing. I suspect it lies in where one’s focus is. If it is on oneself, or on what an achievement or feat will mean for us, I’m pretty sure that’s pride. If it’s on the fact that the Lord gave us the ability and opportunity to accomplish something and is laced with gratitude to Him for those gifts, then I suspect it’s rejoicing. I don’t see the point in parsing words, and if God considers pride a sin, I’d rather not flirt with it.

I’m OK with rejoicing.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think it’s acceptable to have pride in an accomplishment or a job well done?
  2. How can you learn to reject pride in your own life?

Additional Reading:

Pride:

Proverbs 8:13*

Proverbs 27:2

Romans 12:3

Philipians 2:3

* Much of the Book of Proverbs deals with the subject of pride

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