So Much Better Than Pride
Like many who read this, I grew up in an era, that was quite different from the present day. Looking back over nine decades, I may be more aware of that difference than someone who can only recall life two or three decades ago. However, some things do stay the same. Today, you may still hear some parents telling their growing children that they should have pride in themselves, how they dress and look, good self-esteem, and saying that they are proud of their children’s achievements, and so on. All good, as I believed then. However, one milestone experience changed my views about that. It began that evening we went to the last night of an evangelist’s crusade, and our response to his words.
After that evening, I started to read the Bible and understand what I read. Thankfully, this has continued some 55yrs, to this day. One of the many things I have learned is that the God who made us and sustains us dislikes ‘pride’ – human pride in the bad sense – particularly pride in the context of our relationship with Him. Actually, ‘dislikes’ is too mild an expression because the Bible makes it clear that God hates sin, the chief of which is pride. Bible readers would surely know that. It has been called ‘the beginning of all sin’, ‘the cancer of the soul’, and similar strong expressions. So, we know it is to be avoided – at all costs. We can have an aversion to even the word, itself. That poses the problem: what then should we think and say instead, when we wish to speak in the positive way it has been used? What would be a good alternative to ‘pride’, and its biblical connotations?
This question brings me back to my opening thoughts about those notable, most influential experiences – both good and bad. In this instance, to my most painful, yet joyful, experience ever – the recent traumatic passing of my beloved wife..
At that time, I often recalled the phrase, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’, words from Shakespeare’s play when Romeo was leaving Juliet’s balcony. Those words seemed to fit the conflicting emotions I was feeling at that time, and they kept coming back to me. However, the painful sense of grieving, loss, and the ugly nature of death was so frequent, so strong and emotional that I truly felt overwhelmed by it. That was when I ceased ‘praying to’ and began ‘talking with’ God. That last statement may sound strange to some, but it is true, nevertheless, because I know he hears me, and my God, the God of the Bible, is bigger than the universe. He drew me closer to himself. You could say that it was a change of attitude, because it was not a change of relationship. But there is more to tell.
Out of my greatest tragedy came ‘thankfulness’. Thankfulness took first place in my thinking. For days, weeks, months, I was, and still am, thankful. Thankful to God for so many things – an inexhaustible list. Those things included the knowledge that my wife’s soul was with the Lord forever, the Scriptures, the gift of faith, eternal life, the risen Lord Jesus himself, the Holy Spirit, meeting my wife, our wedding vows, our children, our conversion from nominalism, and so on and on and on. There seems no end to the many, many things for which one may be thankful. When people ask me how I am, I do not give them a list of my age-related ailments. I tell them I am thankful – because I am. It is as simple as that. It is really my state of being.
This, then, is the way I believe we should handle those feelings of pride – when we are positive about some blessing or other. In my case, blessings such as our children’s achievements, the way we may have succeeded in this or that, the way my wife and I kept our wedding vows, and the like. It is no exaggeration to say that thankfulness has been a great personal blessing to me. I sincerely hope that it may be at least some help to you, the reader.
In better times, our American cousins enshrined thanksgiving in one day of the year, which they still observe. Remember, it is an attitude of the heart – not just words to use. We find those words ‘thankful’, ‘thanks’, and ‘thanksgiving’ sprinkled liberally throughout the books of both the Old and New Testaments. However, it is when we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we find the best and surest way to experience thankfulness. This short life is fragile, and thankfulness is so much better than pride:
“…but be filled with the Spirit..…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’.(Eph.5:18-20).
– Neville Taylor