Recently a couple of my Facebook friends joined the FB group “I’m Christian & I’m Proud.” I looked at the “Join this group” button and thought about joining, because I am a Christian. But the second half of the group name made me stop and think. As a Christian, should I be advertising that I am proud, as if that is a good thing? After all, isn’t pride a sin?
Several dictionary definitions of the word pride are “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,” “Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness,” and “An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit.” None of these sound like a good thing.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that I don’t ever feel pride, because I do. But generally when I do the Holy Spirit reminds me that I really can’t take the credit for whatever it is I am proud of. For example, people often tell me that I am a good writer. If I hear this too much, I start to feel proud of my own writing abilities. But that is when I am reminded that my ability to write is a gift from God that I should be thankful for rather than proud of.
Spiritual pride, which is what is evident in the title of the “I’m Christian & I’m Proud” FB group, is particularly dangerous. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” And in Proverbs 6, “haughty eyes,” or pride, is one of the seven things that God detests.
I have always thought that pride is the root of all other sin. It is the thing that makes us feel as though we know better than God, or at least better than others, what is right. In the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is the story of how Lucifer, the Morning Star and greatest of all the archangels, fell from Heaven because of pride. He thought himself better than God and claimed he would raise his throne above God’s. As a result, he has become the great accuser and deceiver of humankind. And one of his biggest deceptions is that we should be proud of our faith.
But we are not responsible for our own faith; it is, like everything else we enjoy, a gift from God. “No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (emphasis added).
As Christians, we must be wary of falling into the trap of spiritual pride, of thinking that because we are Christians we are somehow better than others. We are not better; we are sinners just like everyone. To be a Christian we must be humble, the opposite of proud. We must realize, and act as though, we are nothing without God. We owe everything, including our faith, to Him. We must be examples of humility in a society that admires pride. This is not always an easy thing to do, but with the help of God we must try.