Thursday, October 08, 2009

Green Beans & Humiliation

I first heard Chap Clark use the following illustration in the Next Time I Fall In Love curriculum for youth. (Yes, you can tell how dated a church curriculum piece is when you realize that the Amy Grant/Peter Cetera song it was named for was released 23 years ago.) In the process of trying to help kids figure out what love really means, Chap suggested that we use that one word in a lot of different ways. For example:
  • I love green beans.
  • I love my mom.
  • I love my girlfriend.
Same word, three very different meanings.

As I've been reading & studying this week, I've had the same kind of weird experience with pride. I can say that:
  • I'm proud of my sons. (Which, by the way, I am - I've got great kids.)
  • I take pride in my work.
  • Pride goes before a fall.
In one sense, pride is a good thing... it's the warm feeling you have when you enjoy the success of other people. Or, possibly, it's the satisfaction of knowing you've worked hard & done a job well.

In another sense, it's a completely out-of-whack view of your own importance. This kind of "proud" slides easily from a healthy self-worth (remembering that Genesis 1:27 tells us that we were created by God) into an arrogant disdain for anyone but yourself (Proverbs 16:18).

The Bible uses the word "pride" in the same wide variety of ways:
  • I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:4, NIV)
  • Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else... (Galatians 6:4, NIV)
  • When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2, NIV)
The cure for pride is humility. Note: I didn't say "the cure for pride is humiliation" (though that will do a number on your inflated self-worth... trust me, I speak from experience.)
And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud

but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
(1 Peter 5:5-6, NIV)
Humility says, loud & clear, that other people are valuable, both to me & to God. It says that my worth comes not from my race or religion or bank account or employment status but from the fact that the God of the Universe both created me & gave Himself for me on the cross.

I'm going to be writing more about this... I'd appreciate your prayers. I'd also love if you wanted to contribute some to the discussion - email me at or pop me a message on Facebook. Next time around, I'll be discussing the subtle but deadly game of "at least I'm better off than he is."

Extra Credit Quote:

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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