When Is It Good to be Proud? (Spoiler Alert: Never)

June 8, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 26 Comments
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I have written about this before, but – and this is hardly surprising – I apparently managed to influence exactly no one. In fact, I have either gotten more sensitive to the problem, or it has actually become an even worse epidemic.

“Here is a photo of my kids’ report cards, honor roll certificates, dance trophies, and character medals. I’m !!!!SO PROUD!!!! of them!”

“Junior got his driver’s license today. I’m one proud mama!”

“Sissy was baptized last Sunday at church! #BeyondProud!!!!”

“I don’t care what those liberals say, I’m PROUD of what this country stands for!”

“Tough loss for State U last night, but proud of those boys for giving it their all!”

“I’m proud to be a dad.”
“I’m proud to be an alumni.”
“I’m proud of my heritage.”
“I’m proud to be a Christian.” (duck, lightning warning!)
“I’m proud to call you my spouse.”
“I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”

Good grief! Where will it end? As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with pride?”

seinfeld

Look, if you don’t believe the Bible, or if you’re pretending that you don’t believe in God (even though you and God both know that you really do), or if you’re not a Christian, then I understand. Being proud of all kinds of stuff is sort of your thing, and that’s to be expected. You’re not only proud, you’re obsessed with announcing your pride, and compelled to put it out there for eveyone to see. In fact, you are proud of being proud. You should read this, and then come back here.

And I know I’m not the Christian language police, but, if you’re a Christian, you should be concerned about things like truth and obedience and righteousness and specifically what the Bible says about our attitudes and expressions. Good news! I did the research for you. Here’s a list of all the Bible verses that mention pride. Here are the ones that use the word “proud.”

Did you see anything good? I didn’t. I saw stuff like pride leading to destruction, and pride exciting God’s wrath, and proud people grouped in with people classified as liars and murderers and evil-doers and the wicked. The word “abomination” was used at least once. Ouch.

Let me anticipate the argument, because I have heard this before. When Christians say, “I’m proud” or they talk about having “pride” in such and such, they don’t really mean the sinful kind of pride. They mean they’re happy for someone or happy about something. Sometimes they’re really lifting up another person’s accomplishments, or they just want someone to acknowledge their own hard work or sense of worth.

Okay, fair enough. I know people mean different things, but let’s examine this more closely. When you say, “I’m proud of my kids,” why exactly are you saying it? Are you saying it because you want people to see you taking the credit for what they’ve accomplished? That’s called bragging, and it’s certainly a form of sinful pride. Are you saying it because you want other people to be impressed with what your kids have done on their own? That’s taking credit and glory away from God, Who enabled, and sovereignly caused, your kids to have success at something. Why would you want to do that? That will bless neither you, your kids, nor the people who read or hear it.

If you say, “When I say I’m proud, I really mean I’m pleased with them. Or they’ve brought me joy. Or they’ve encouraged me by their hard work. Or I’m grateful and thankful for what they’ve accomplished. Or I want to give honor where honor is due.” There, you’ve solved your own problem! Say those things instead of saying you’re proud. Because here’s the deal with what we say:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Matthew 15:18-19

And if you say, “What we think and do is more important than what we say,” then consider:

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 12:35-37

The bottom line is, what’s coming out of my mouth is a really good indicator of what’s in my heart. So, I’m going to admit it: I have four wonderful daughters and I’m proud of them. But I’m sinfully proud, and I’m asking the Lord to deliver me and change my heart and to forgive me for my pride. It’s not a good thing for me to be proud, and I shouldn’t want to announce it and show it off.

Or, for example, when the Houston Astros, a team that has suffered three straight horrible seasons, finally get the season off to a great start, the way they have this year, I do want to retweet all the game updates that are hashtagged #HTownPride, but I’m not going to – (1) because it makes no sense for me to be proud of something which is not my own personal accomplishment; (2) it’s sinful to be proud, and; (3) even if I’m feeling sinfully proud, I don’t want to brag about my pride and compound the sin even more.

I’ve been told repeatedly that I must tell my children that I’m proud of them. The Lord knows I’m not a good father. Many if not most of the problems that my daughters have (and they certainly have their fair share) are my fault. They sometimes evoke a gasp when they tell people, “My parents told me they’re not proud of me and they never will be.” They say this because we have tried to stop using that terminology. We love our daughters very much. We are thankful for them. They bring us unbounded joy. We are pleased with them. They work hard, and they have been gifted by God in amazing ways. We praise Him for them. We want them to feel loved, secure, and encouraged. If they don’t know those things, then I must take the blame for not telling them often enough, or making my feelings evident enough in my actions and attitudes. But if you tell me, “You have to tell your kids you are proud of them,” I’ll say, “Show it to me in the Bible.” When you show me a Bible verse commanding me to be proud, and then to truthfully express that pride verbally, I’ll confess, repent, and ask God to help me obey His Word. Until then, though, I’m going to battle against my pride and encourage my family, friends, and loved ones to do the same. And if I manage it, God will get all the praise and glory for it, not me.

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Making the Proper Comparisons

September 22, 2014 at 11:34 am | Posted in Galatians | 4 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 6 deals with the troubles that the legalists were causing. Obviously, they were trying to corrupt the Gospel, but they also interfered with, and hurt, the spiritual life of the church.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

Legalists are interested in adding to burdens instead of alleviating burdens. People in church will fall into sin. We can use that as on opportunity to pick them up, or to step on them and try to make ourselves look higher. Meekness preserves love and causes God to help us resist sin. Pride alienates others and provokes God. A good indicator of my spirituality is not how I measure up to others (Can I carry a heavier load than him?), but “Am I bearing my own burden when it used to be too heavy for me?” In other words, the test is how I measure up to what I used to be.

There are burdens which are not meant to be carried alone, and then there is the soldier’s pack, which it is his responsibility to bear on his own as he serves a greater cause.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In giving help to others, we are also helping ourselves, but the secret is to give in love: not giving to get.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galtians 6:8

Sowing to the flesh reaps corruption.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

Remember, the reaping is in “due season.” Not every day is harvest day. Remember to pray to keep from fainting (Luke 18:1). Remember to eat (read the Bible) for spiritual strength.

Near the end of Galatians we are reminded that freedom brings responsibility.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12-13

We have a responsibility not to brag about our freedom, or what it allows us to do.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14

We should “brag” on the Redeemer, rather than the “elite” status of being redeemed.

Pride Is Everywhere

July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 21 Comments
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Pride is ubiquitous in a fallen world inhabited by fallen people. The Bible compares pride to leaven because leaven has a way of secretly working its way into a lump of dough, and affecting the whole thing.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:6-7

“Glorying” is another word for bragging. Could there be a simpler way to state it? Bragging is not good. Why not? Well, there are a variety of reasons, but, obviously, because God – our Maker and eternal Judge, the Author of life and truth – says it’s not good!

But bragging is what proud people are compelled to do. This phenomenon is especially prevalent on social media outlets such as Facebook. There is a certain (imagined) level of comfortable anonymity that comes from sitting in front of a keyboard or cell phone screen, which we would not necessarily feel standing face to face with an audience. This gives people the boldness to let everyone know just how pleased with ourselves we are, while at the same time giving us a chance to carefully craft our words before hitting “send” or “post” so that we don’t (at least we think we don’t) sound too obnoxious.

So, you get ridiculous statements like these:

“Y’all, I’m the most nonjudgmental person I know!” This statement mixes boasting with hypocrisy. How can you be the “most nonjudgmental” when you’ve just judged everyone else you know as being more judgmental than you?

“I’m one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.” Really? Because you just bragged about your humility in front of everyone.

“I can honestly say that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me!” Except for everyone who reads this, right?

Then, there is the whole “role-reversal” of pride, where we have somehow redefined it to be a good thing. So we get folks who are proud of their country, proud of their kids, proud of the U.S. Soccer team, proud of their family or last name. And then we get upset when the blatant God-haters have a “Gay Pride” parade. At least they’re being honest about how their sins are related!

If you claim to be a Christian, try to think like a Christian for a minute. Christians are supposed to think Biblically, remember? God does not just frown upon pride or categorize it as “less than the best.” He actively hates it.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 8:13

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 29:23

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue…

Proverbs 6:16-17

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden there has been something in our human hearts that wants to take credit away from God in order to give it to ourselves. We invent ways to glorify ourselves, and we disguise our boasting with cunning words, or we just say what we have heard, and we think it’s okay because it’s what everyone else says. God hates this, and we will give an account for idle words one day. The solution is to remember the truth that we have nothing at all to brag about it, if we really think about it.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I Corinthians 4:7

Let’s slaughter our pride on the altar of God’s glory, and stop speaking like fools.

Why I’m Not Proud to be an American

January 16, 2013 at 11:45 am | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 13 Comments
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I was born in America, and most of the time I love it here. I suppose it’s possible that one day, when I don’t have anything better to do, I will sit in front of my computer all day and post conspiracy theories about the government on Facebook, and make pointed jabs at the President, and publish funny photos and links to nasty diatribes about whoever the currently elected officials are. But let me go on record right now as saying that I hope to avoid that if I can. Despite all the problems with our politicians and our political system, I can’t think of any place I would rather live (except Heaven, of course.)

But here’s the deal: I didn’t choose to be an American. It just so happened that God arranged it so I would be born here. I didn’t have to work hard to earn my citizenship. I didn’t have to swim across a river, sail across an ocean, hike through a forest, or even pass a written exam. Being American – like everything else in my life – is a blessing I did not deserve.

Just now, my favorite search engine counted the word “pride” 46 times in my King James Bible, and, the best I can tell, it’s always a bad thing. “Proud” is in there 47 times, “haughty” 10, and “puffed up” 6. Have you ever done a Biblical word study on how God feels about pride? It might knock the wind out of your sails.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

If even the wise, the mighty, and the rich are not supposed to boast about their accomplishments, achievements, or advancements, then how in the world can I be “proud” of the nation in which I happen to live? Look, I’m not the theological language police, but I would like to see all of us Christians clean up our vocabulary a little bit. When our kids get good grades, do well in sports, or perform well at a recital, my wife and I try to say that we’re “thankful” for them. That seems much more God-glorifying than saying we’re “proud” of them. I feel the same way about America. I am not proud to be an American, but I am thankful to the Lord that He made me one. And if you really feel like you just have to express pride about something, try this one on for size:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I [am] the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these [things] I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24


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