Is the Pendulum of Pride Putting You in Danger?

Pride is a feeling. It can be positive or negative. It can motivate or destroy.

As Christians, we generally think of pride as a no good, very bad thing. We’ve probably all read in Proverbs that “pride goeth before destruction.” and seen that it is listed among the “evil things that come from within and defile the man” in Mark 7. These are the evidences that our pride is based on the feeling that we are more important, or somehow better than other people. It is the opposite of the modesty and humility of the servant’s heart we are called to embody.

The other face of pride is based on truth. We can’t have a positive self-esteem without a measure of pride. This is not an arrogant pride, but the feeling that we, as a child of God, are worthy of respect from both ourselves and other people. It is not based on an exaggerated self importance, but in pleasure, delight and satisfaction about who God has made us to be and the gifts and abilities he has given us. It’s OK to feel a sense of achievement as long as we are able to acknowledge where the tools, direction and perseverance we needed for that success have come from.

Unfortunately, the pendulum swings easily between the two extremes. If our ears are attuned to God we realize that it is God’s work in and through us that brings us feelings of worth and satisfaction. If we drift—even a little—from that Godly connection, we give space for the enemy to distort the truth so that we feel that we are superior to others and that we are the ones that run the show and deserve complete credit for anything good that happens.

In those examples it is easy to see the difference between pride that moves us toward gratitude and pride that moves us toward a personal sovereignty.  But, there is another tool that the enemy uses to confuse the matter—shame. When we feel shame about ourselves, or our behaviors, we feel unworthy and turn from God and others. Although it feels and looks differently, it still causes us to focus on our own abilities to run the show and get us through. It is still a misshapen form of pride.

In addiction recovery we can feel proud of what we, in tandem with God, have been able to accomplish and that is good and right. But, when arrogance or shame-based self-reliance enters the picture, it keeps us from continuing to heal and grow. We don’t want anyone to know that we are doing poorly. We go back to thinking that we can get back on track by ourselves. We don’t reach out. We don’t surrender. This is a pride that leads to destruction.

Where are you today? Are you letting pride keep you from the total freedom God desires for you?

But humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. — Proverbs 22:4


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