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Monday, August 15, 2016

Pride goes before a fall

The Wikipedia defines pride thus:
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly ... and irrationally corrupt sense of one's personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.

The word, pride, is used about 50 times in the Bible. (See here for a search, using the English Standard Version.) There are very few positive connotations of its use in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 15:31 and 2 Corinthians 7:4, Paul says that he has pride in the Corinthian church. But there's plenty of pride that is condemned:
In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus lists pride as one aspect of the evil heart of humans.
1 John 2:16 says that the "pride of life" is not from God, but from the world.
Ezekiel 16:49-56 lists pride first among the sins of Sodom, which was destroyed by God in the time of Abraham.
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Pride is one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins -- the Wikipedia lists it as the first one.
Satan is described so that his pride is obvious in John Milton's classic Paradise Lost.

Clearly, selfish pride is dangerous, and to be avoided. Submission does not come easily to us. Be we ought to submit to God, and, eventually, everyone will do so, willingly or not.

How is pride manifest? In at least these, and, no doubt, in other ways:
Superiority pride -- believing that I am more important than others. Expecting special treatment, and believing that I deserve it. Such special treatment may include from the police, from teachers, from companies that I do business with, maybe even from my parents.
Intellectual pride -- believing that I know more than others. I look down on those who don't agree with what I know, or think I know. For example, I might be a Republican who believes that all Democrats are deluded idiots.
Pride in origins and/or associates -- believing that my family, my tribe, my school, my church, my team, my group, is better than any other.
Self-righteous pride -- believing that I do not need to ask forgiveness for my sins, or that I have not sinned, or that my religious activity, or my charitable giving, or devotion to God, is responsible for my righteousness in the sight of God. (The only way to achieve such righteousness is to trust Christ for forgiveness of sin.)
Pride in my accomplishments -- believing that I'm important because I won the 5th-grade spelling bee, or because my lawn has just been mowed, or because I made that sale. Not considering that I had help with these achievements, a father who coached me in spelling, a spouse who mowed the lawn, a mechanic who fixed the lawnmower, a staff who helped me make the sale. Daniel 4 comes to mind. In this chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar bragged, in verse 30, that he had built Babylon, when he probably hadn't mortared in a brick or pounded a nail of it. He received punishment for his pride.

Thanks for reading. Be careful not to be proud. I need to be careful, too.


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