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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

Pride vs. Humility- Finding the Best Package

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but wisdom is with the humble." (Proverbs 11:2, NRSV)

I usually like package deals. It can often mean that I get a greater value, more bang for my buck. However, some packages deals just aren't worth it.

There have been times when I thought I really wanted something but ended up giving up on it, because of all of the unneeded extra baggage and expenses that comes along with it. I've lost count of the memberships, activities and even some relationships I have had to cut out of my life, because they either cost too much or came with an extra generous dose of pain or heartache. Those are the package deals I would choose to opt out of.

One of the worst possible combinations I can think of is pride and shame. It almost seems counter-intuitive that the two would come together, especially since those of us who have struggled with pride in some form (which is all of us) have sought to be lifted to higher ground, not brought low. But according to the words of Proverbs 11:2, those who exhibit pride as a means to honor get the exact opposite of what they are bargaining for.

That phrase "then comes" from this verse is not really implying that disgrace comes after pride- no delayed reaction there. It actually means that dishonor comes WITH pride. In other words, pride and shame are a package deal. So the moment we try to set ourselves on a self-made pedestal, we set a magnifying glass on our own inadequacy without Christ.

This very closely resembles that words of Christ that have come to be known as "The Great Reversal":

"All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12 NRSV)

So what exactly is pride? Simply put, pride involves the idolatry of placing ourselves in front of God, in any way, or for any reason. It appears in many forms: workaholicism, unforgiveness, gossip, criticism, or any number of thoughts, words or actions that reflect the inner lie that somehow our way is more important than God's. Pride can often masquerade as good things, like good deeds, felt convictions or (false) humility (because that buys into the lie that somehow our understanding of ourselves is more true than what God says about us).

The thing is, we ARE good, and valuable and priceless. So there's not need to falsely build ourselves up. Why not just lean into God?

True humility means we surrender our attempts to self-justify and self-promote, which in reality have only ever brought misunderstanding and pain. In return we receive the eyes of grace, which allows us to define ourselves and the world around us through the lens of God's infinite love.

Trust me, this is a much better package deal.

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