Nick Shipman: A Word About Pride | Local News
“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18). I was alerted by my phone on June 1 that “Pride Month Celebrations Begin.” For the remainder of the month, businesses and corporations will run out their rainbow decorations and overly concern themselves with the festivities that now befall the month of June. Of course, all of this will be soon forgotten and swept back into the proverbial closet from whence it came come July, but before that happens, I felt it appropriate to see what the Bible has to say about the idea of “Pride.”
“Pride” is defined by dictionary.com as “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” The scriptures have much to say about the concept of pride and the connotation is almost never a good one. Scripture upon scripture could be heaped up to demonstrate God’s abhorrence of it. It is seen as selfish ambition and a reliance upon one’s own abilities and accomplishments. A mindset that seeks to turn the focus of life not upon God who gives it, but on oneself. An exaltation of the creature against the creator.
The book of Proverbs, a collection of wisdom literature, has many warnings and condemnations of prideful behavior. The reader is informed that with pride comes shame (Prov. 11:2), that it is accompanied by strife and division (Prov. 13:10), that haughtiness (selfishness, pride) comes before destruction (Prov. 18:12), that a proud heart is an abomination of the Lord (Prov. 16:5), and that pride brings one low (to be debased or humiliated) (Prov. 29:23).
We are told that Wisdom, as personified often in Proverbs, hates evil, and that pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth are hated by the wise (Prov. 8:13). In the New Testament, we read that God resists the proud (Jam. 4:6). The word for “resists” in the passage is “antitassó” which means “to set oneself against a thing, to oppose, to battle against, to reject the entire make up of a thing, opposed in principle and in practice.” Literally, God has set Himself against the proud, He opposes them and rejects them. Such a disposition hardly sounds like something that should be celebrated.
In 1 John, the beloved apostle says, “For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 Jn. 2:16) Of the “pride of life” Burton Coffman, in his commentary, notes: “The central lust of the ego itself is indicated by this. The utterly selfish instinct in all human life that insists upon achieving the fulfillment of the person itself, the inherent passion of the soul to do its own will, fulfill its own desires, glorify its own ego, and to occupy the inner control-center of life – that is the pride of life. Salvation in Christ requires that this be denied.” (Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on 1 John 2”.) Is this not what is on display during Pride Month?
Was it not pride of life that caused the downfall of man back in the garden of Eden? Was not Eve deceived to see in the forbidden fruit the potential to make her just as wise as God? (Gen. 3:6) Was it not pride in the matter of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church that was driving those brethren apart? Were not some of them regarding themselves as “super Christians” for their ability to speak in tongues over those who could only prophesy? (1 Cor. 12)? And did not Paul condemn such an attitude in the following chapter as not indicative of true love? (1 Cor. 13:4)
What attitude should we have then if pride is not something to be celebrated or promoted? The holy scriptures continually put forth meekness, lowliness and humility as the remedy for pride. Rather than being puffed up at our own worth and accomplishments, we are to regard ourselves as humble servants carrying out the will and work of our Lord.
While God resists the proud, to the humble he bestows His grace (Jam. 4:6). Peter teaches that we are to clothe ourselves in humility and to be submissive one to another (1 Pet. 5:5). Paul encouraged the Philippians to not seek after selfish ambition, but to be lowly, and to esteem others as better than themselves (Phil. 2:3). Many of the problems that Jesus confronted among the religious leaders of the first century were rooted in their pride (Matt. 23:1-12). They wanted to be seen, they wanted to be heard, they wanted to be regarded as the best, the most honorable, the most spiritual, and the most excellent. Their actions gave the appearance of devotion, but their hearts were concerned only with a celebration of self. Jesus called them to be humble and to serve others.
Not only is pride in oneself held forth as a reproach, but Pride Month is also about promoting and celebrating something that God has already condemned (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9). If pride and homosexuality are both regarded as worldly in nature and not from the Lord, then a Christian can have no fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11). This isn’t an act of hate or fear (a ridiculous notion), but a disposition of those who are seeking to humble themselves in the sight of their Lord and to keep His commands (Jam. 4:10; Jn. 14:15). The believer cannot serve both God and the world.
Paul lists several things that will keep one from the kingdom of God. One of those is the very things being celebrated during Pride Month. But to those people, Paul spoke to the reality that they did not remain in such a debased manner of life. “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11). The attitude of Christians is not to see the LGBT+ community suffer or abused, but to see these individuals washed, sanctified, and justified by the gospel (Rom. 1:16). I want to see these individuals embrace a better way, one that is not oriented towards the self with its own will, desires, and passions (Rom. 8:5-7) but humbled before God and His will.
For these reasons I will not be celebrating Pride Month, but I will be celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ and its power to redeem and transform the selfish, the prideful, the confused, and the unrighteous into humble instruments for His kingdom. May you have a good week and God bless.