Summary: There is a good kind of pride but the problem is when this is not balanced by humility. Pride must be balanced with humility. You can be proud of your child and have a bumper sticker which reads, “My child is on the honor roll at...” Now if that is so you
II Chronicles 26:3-5, 15b-16
A politician attended a picnic with his constituents in his home district. He made the rounds visiting with people and then it was time to fill up his plate with lunch. He got his salad and side dishes and then went to the woman serving fried chicken. He asked, “Do you think I could get a second piece of friend chicken.” No sir. He was surprised to be turned down and so he asked, “Do you know who I am?” Yes, as a matter of fact I do. You’re the congressman for our district. She then asked, Do you know who I am? “No, I don’t” She said, “Well I am the chicken lady, so move on down the line.” Alexander Pope, the 18th century poet said, “Pride is the never failing voice of fools.” All of us have been fools at some point when it comes to pride.
Here’s the thing about the 7 Deadly sins: they all start with something that is good but then is taken in excess. Gluttony starts with eating which we need to do to survive. The desire to provide for ourselves and our family can become greed. Love and passion can become lust. Rest can become sloth and anger can become wrath. What makes these things sins is when they are taken into excess. I was at the gym and on the treadmill and the History Channel had a program on the 7 Deadly Sins and it closed with a quote from Hugh Hefner, I think somewhat facetiously, who said, “To live a good life means to live in moderation in everything.”
When it comes to pride, there is good pride. The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth and says, “I often boast of you, I have great pride in you.” Paul had pride in all the churches he founded because of their faith and their growth. So being proud can’t always be bad. You are meant to be proud of your children when they do something well. They need that from you. And when it comes to our country, we are to look at the good things of it and be proud as a measure to continue to pursue those ideals. As a pastor, I am proud of you and what we have accomplished over the last four years and the amazing amount of growth and diversification we have been able to achieve for the kingdom of God. When you use your spiritual gifts and see the impact it has for the kingdom of God, you’re to be proud of that because it is a gift of God and it is God who’s able to accomplish that through you. But when people recognize your gifts, always give the credit to the giver, Almighty God, and glorify Him with it.
There is a good kind of pride but the problem is when this is not balanced by humility. Pride must be balanced with humility. You can be proud of your child and have a bumper sticker which reads, “My child is on the honor roll at...” Now if that is so you can show your child that you are proud of them, that’s good. But if it’s to show every other parent how much better your child is than theirs, that’s a problem. It’s all about your motive. We always need to carry ourselves as servants in the world and not to look at others as how they can serve us. In our own lives, whatever good we’ve done or pride we take in our work, ultimately we remember that it is God who gave us the capacity and the ability to do that. We celebrate what we have accomplished but we are also sure to give God all of the glory. So our pride always needs to be counterbalanced with an appropriate amount of humility.
When pride becomes a sin, it looks like several different things. The first is shaming other people and humiliating them to make yourself feel better or that you tried to make everybody else feel like they have to serve you because you are better than them. The second is when we try to outshine those around us or that you do outshine others but have pride in that. Third is narcissism which is when we become full of ourselves and trying to make the world revolve around us. A narcissist as a result can only really love themselves. This is what pride looks like when it becomes a deadly sin. The deadly sin will never be confused with encouraging your children, blessing other people, bragging about a congregation to them because in the end, what makes the sin deadly is that it makes us feel superior to everyone else.
There are two things which contribute to the rise of the deadly sin of pride in us. The first has to do with a low self-esteem. When we struggle with low self-esteem, we often make ourselves feel better at the expense of others. When we desperately crave the affirmation of other people. We begin to be willing to do anything at the expense of our morals, our faith just to get you to like me and affirm me. If your primary motive is to get other people’s affirmations, that can influence you to do the thing which will benefit you rather do the right thing. If you find yourself in seeking the affirmation of others so you can feel better about yourself, then you might find yourself a victim of the deadly sin of pride. The second is too high a self-esteem. If you’ve achieved some success and accomplishment in life and feel affirmed, you might begin to believe all the nice things people say about you. When that happens, you begin to believe you’re really somebody and then it’s OK to ask for the 2nd piece of chicken when you walk through the line. Or you begin to think that the rules don’t apply to you or that you don’t have to serve God when others have to. In the process, you forget that you are child, a sheep in his pasture.