Pride

Gustave Dore ~ Adam and Eve Cast Out

I find the sin of Pride to be rather  . . . confounding.  On the surface it’s easy to see.  But when one goes deeper, it gets more and more difficult as is it’s nature, I think.  I struggle with it as everyone does (which is why the Litany of Humility bothered me), but I find myself wondering about the supposedly good things it can do and how to reconcile that.  Our children need us to have some pride in them to grow.  When we complete a difficult task, we are often proud of ourselves and will use that again in the future to continue to complete difficult tasks.  We might find humility rewarding (one of my personal vices) and strive to continue to look for the Truth in humility.

I want to find a new word for these things, such as dignity, but I’m not sure that is the best way to figure this out.  Even one of the definitions of dignity in the Oxford Dictionary uses the word pride within it.

The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

1.1 A composed or serious manner or style.

1.2 A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

1.3 A high or honorable rank or position.

Though I wonder if this second definition of of dignity would be more accurate for what I am talking about.  Worthy seems to make more sense.

1. bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation ofthe formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
2. nobility or elevation of character; worthiness:
3. elevated rank, office, station, etc.
4. relative standing; rank.
5. a sign or token of respect:
Dignity comes from the Latin dignitas (dignus) which means worthiness (worthy).  When we break down worthy, is basically means deserving.   In this sense, pride in ones’ children, or pride in ones’ accomplishments makes more sense.  But where does pride here become a sin?  Where does is cross the line from being accurate to prideful?  One of the more memorable definitions of humility that I read in passing (somewhere I can’t remember) was that humility is simply accepting reality; seeing and accepting the truth.
To keep in this vein of thinking, I have been taught, and find truth to it, that all Pride is sin.  Which is why I’m searching for other words to describe these actions or situations.  I have been also been told by a priest that not all pride is bad, that some is warranted.  I flinched at this because I find the thought to be potentially dangerous.
So, to keep in the rather meandering vibe of this post, is all pride sin?  Or can it be said that having that sense of accomplishment or that sense of joy in ones’ children is humility as long as it’s reality?  Where does it cross the line from being a good thing to to being the root of all sin?
For a short post, this was rather difficult to write.  It’s written down as a thought process and as much as I would like to clean it up, I’ll leave it.  I’ll leave something out if I try and I don’t want to forget anything.
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11 thoughts on “Pride

  1. My understanding of pride is that it is good to take pride in God’s glory. The further one strays from that, and towards the self, the more one should take care. Taking joy and glory in God, in his work, and in the beauty of souls is great. Doing so with gifts He has imbued your character and self in is also good, as long as one keeps in mind it is from His love, and not from the self.

    I think a way to change your thinking, if one wants to aboid the word Pride and, associated emotions with it, is to specify what kind of good you feel. One can find honor, satisfaction, joy, and be glorified by work, children, family, etc. Using those helps clarify one’s thoughts, assists in giving thanks to God for the thing inspiring the reaction, and helps one notice any straying to the pride and glorification of self, rather than God or neighbor

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  2. This isn’t the complete truth, analogies never are, but it helped me to take pride into a different context before I applied this idea to myself. Think of a racehorse. A racehorse is a valuable animal, God has given it fast legs to run, a smart mind, a strong back. These are all natural gifts God has designed that make a racehorse valuable for it’s purpose. As the horse gets older, a trainer comes along and teaches it how to be obedient, how to run on a track, all the other horse stuff it needs to know. It would be silly for the horse to take pride in itself, because all of these gifts were given to him. The horse did the work, but the circumstances and natural design of the horse is the reason for it’s great talents. Also, the effectiveness of the horse is dependent on his obedience to his master. If the horse is wild and refuses to do it’s job that he’s trained to do, then he would quickly be replaced by another or made to submit. A third thing I like about this analogy, is that a horse is made for a purpose, to run fast and carry large weights. If a horse tries to do something that is not his purpose, then he is rather useless also. For example, a horse trying to gather nuts like a squirrel would be silly.

    Now to take this analogy back to man. Men are valuable because we are designed by a brilliant creator for a purpose. We have been given certain gifts like an intelligent brain, empathy, opposing thumbs….all of these things have been given to us as gifts. They are not ours to take pride in, but ours to be thankful for. We are also designed for a purpose, to glorify God in the highest. So whenever we are doing something that is not aligned with this purpose, we can not be satisfied or as useful to our creator. And of course, the third thing. Our effectiveness is dependent upon our obedience.

    I hope that helps, Stingray. Blessings to you on this journey.

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  3. Chad,

    That makes a great deal of sense. It goes along with the first few chapters I’ve read in a book called Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli. It talks about hating the self to completely turn oneself to God. At first, that is very hard to take in.

    In a nutshell, one could say pride is of oneself and glory is God’s.

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  4. Jenny,

    I can’t express how much that helps. Thank you, truly. Yours and Chad’s comment also helps me a great deal with a certain . . . sadness I’ve been experiencing that is incredibly difficult to explain. But basically, God has given me these gifts, an intelligent brain, the ability to think, the ability to read and comprehend not because he expects perfection, but because he wants me to know, love and serve him. I need to learn to do that with the gifts he’s given me and do the best I can.

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  5. whenever the burdens get heavy, you can always hand them to Him to carry for you. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” Psalm 55:22

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  6. CS Lewis used to say that perfect humility lay in taking exactly as much satisfaction for the work of others as for your own (and vice versa). So – being happy because you designed and built a beautiful garden, you’d be no less happy and pleased if it were someone else who would have done it. You’re taking pleasure in the work itself, not that YOU did the work.

    Love what Sis said. I think of this in the context of beauty – did YOU decide what color your hair would be? People are forever complimenting my eyes, but I didn’t make them, I didn’t choose them from a box. I just wear them. Thanks God, they *are* pretty eyes. I’m glad I get to wear them.

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  7. That makes a whole lot of sense, too Hearthie. Thank you.

    So, in this same vein, seeking beauty for attention or validation would be pride, but accepting the beauty that you were given is humility. Or another term, honor. Seeking honor for power, fame, or position, would be pride but accepting honor that had been duly given would be humility. Is that about right?

    By the way, you do have very pretty eyes. 🙂

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  8. Yes. Well, what do you do with the beauty you’re given? Do you use it to acquire power and be an occasion to sin? Do you use it to bless? Seems to me that the more you’re using your gifts, whatever they are, to bless others and show God’s glory to the world, the less likely you are to be doing something from pride.

    (BTW I struggle with the pride thing too, so I’m just giving you what I’ve got. We all pool everything and maybe we’ll have half an idea, yes? 🙂 )

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  9. We all pool everything and maybe we’ll have half an idea, yes?

    That is exactly the idea, Hearth. It’s brought me so far over the past few years. I want to keep going.

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