Is Pride Always Wrong?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has done it to destroy your pride and bring low all earth’s nobility.

Isaiah 23:9

Once again, Isaiah condemns human pride. In Isaiah 22, the pride of a leader was indicted by the Lord. This time it’s the pride of a whole nation.

Years ago when I was a college pastor, I led a Bible study on a passage that identified pride as sinful. One of my students interrupted me by asking: “What’s so wrong about pride? I thought we were supposed to take pride in ourselves. What’s so bad about feeling good about the things I have accomplished?” At the time, I was unprepared for such a blunt question. But I’ve thought about it for years since then. When, if ever, is pride okay? When is it sinful?

In part, I think the rightness or wrongness of pride depends on what happens in the heart of the individual. Sinful pride takes way too much credit, forgetting God’s grace and gifts. Sinful pride says, “I did it! I am great!” Yet there’s another quality of pride that is mixed with humility and gratitude. This sort of pride says, “I did it, by God’s grace! I did it! How blessed I am!” It’s the kind of pride we hear when Paul writes to the Philippians: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (4:13). The emphasis here is not upon “I can do everything,” but rather upon “through Christ, who gives me strength.” Such pride is consistent with the command of Scripture: “If you want to boast, boast only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you feel pride, what happens in your soul? Does your pride draw you near to God in humility and gratitude? Or does your pride lead you away from God as you glory in yourself?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you know my heart. You know what happens in me when I feel proud. Forgive me, Lord, when my pride is selfish, when I take credit for that which comes from your grace in my life. Help me to see myself and my accomplishments in the clear light of your truth. Whether I feel pride because the lawn I just mowed looks good, or because I’ve contributed to the work of your kingdom, may my feelings of pride be marinated in humble gratitude. Let me live each day, thankful for how you are at work through me, yet continuously aware of just how much I depend on you in all things. Above all, may you be my pride and joy. When I boast, may I boast in you! Amen.