“I wanna have pride like my mother had, but not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.” — The Avett Brothers
Pride is a tricky thing. You should have pride and be proud, but you shouldn’t be prideful. It can be confusing. Hopefully, I can help to clear it up.
There are different definitions of the word “pride” that change how it can be used:
- “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” This is pleasure, joy, or a sense of achievement, as in “Take pride in a job well done.”
- “the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance.” This is vanity, conceit, or self-admiration, as in “He refused the offer out of pride.”
Now, the first definition deals with self-esteem, and the second definition deals with self-love. The first is good, but the second is not; however, if you think about it, conceit is just self-esteem that is too high. So good pride can grow into bad pride.
Good pride is being proud of your family and heritage and not ashamed (i.e. patriotism). Bad pride is looking at your family and heritage as being better than that of others for whatever reason (i.e. racism). The difference comes in comparing one’s self and achievements with others.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” This is probably one of the most famous Old Testament scriptures. It’s been used in plays, tv/movies, songs, and poems for years even secularly. But what does it mean? Is everyone who is prideful in danger of “falling”? Do only the haughty fall? No and no, we all know this is not true. It is a proverb from a father to his son or a teacher to his student that we should be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that we are perfect and infallible. If we think this, we will miss mistakes that can be very costly. Spiritually, this mistake could ruin our souls.
Paul was dealing with prideful people when he wrote to the Corinthians. At the time, Corinth was considered to be one of the greatest cities in the world, a center for business, art, and philosophy, but the Corinthians had taken that civic pride a bit too far when they began comparing themselves to others and seeing themselves as better. Paul cautioned them to not look at success in the eyes of the World, but to surrender everything to the court of Christ and let Him be the judge. “But with me, it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this, but He who judges me is the Lord (1 Cor. 4:3-4).”
We don’t get to decide if we are “good enough” for Heaven. WE WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH TO DESERVE HEAVEN!! We don’t get to choose who gets in through the pearly gates. For this, I am glad. God is the only judge because He is perfect and blameless and has no bias. We cannot make this claim, at least not truthfully. “ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).”
So be proud of yourself, your achievements, your place of birth, your family, but realize that you are no greater than anyone else. “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:3).” Don’t let your pride get out of hand.
Peace. Love. Roll Tide.