The Pride of Life

Pride esteems oneself too highly, above others, hence more important and significant than others. It often appears in a moral context, where we believe we’re better than someone else, judging the moral condition of another’s heart; something God forbids. (Mt 7:1)

Attributing significance or value to a human being is something only God can do, and He’s already attributed infinite value and significance to every one of us: God so loves us that He’s willing to die, to lay down His own life, for every human soul. Every time we rank each other in importance we dismiss God’s heart, trampling Him underfoot.

And we’re doing this nearly constantly, exalting our little thrones, imposing our broken little value systems, or cowing to others in theirs, while God looks down in grief, sorrow, and anger. If we’re not seeking His face, we’re entirely unaware, heedless of the wrath we’re treasuring up for ourselves. (Ro 2:5)

The love of God is what makes pride so incredibly awful, and moves God to such fury as we disvalue those He loves. He hates the very traces of pride in our faces (Pr 6:16); it’s right up there with murder.

Yet when most of us focus on God’s love, I’m afraid that we’re only thinking of His love for us, and not for everyone else. Rather than comforting us, the fact that we’re so deeply and thoughtlessly contrary to His passion for us all should terrify us. (2Co 5:11)

The pride of life isn’t of the Father; it’s of the world (1Jn 2:16), and it’s wickedness. (1Jn 5:19) He tells us to humble ourselves, to esteem others better than ourselves, so He will not have to resist and oppose us, and He can give us grace. (1Pe 5:5)

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9 thoughts on “The Pride of Life”

  1. For example, do we treat those who have money, fame, or power with more respect and honor than those who don’t? Respect of persons extends well beyond the courtroom.

  2. Tim,

    I can tell you’ve been thinking. What a point of the arrow paragraph you wrote:

    Yet when most of us focus on God’s love, I’m afraid that we’re only thinking of His love for us, and not for everyone else.

    Rather than comforting us, the fact that we’re so deeply and thoughtlessly contrary to His passion for us all should terrify us. (2Co 5:11)

    Good Word, Good Reminder, Good linkage of Scripture

    Our own profound selfishness if unchecked by Him. Our own
    lack of servanthood TO Others :). Perhaps not yours. Reminded me deeply of my own need to grow.


    1. Thank you Stephen! The sword has been piercing in me even unto the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. This has been a challenging study!

  3. One symptom of pride is a reluctance to rejoice in the accomplishments of others as if they are our own.

  4. Opposites do not always have to be 180 (diametrically opposed). For example, it’s been offered up that the opposite of love is not hate, rather apathy. I think that has much truth. Here, you ask if pride = better than others, then does humility = lower (morally). I think a good point of humility is seeing yourself as you are (in calling, essence, gifting, etc) So, the opposite of imbalance (pride) would be BALANCE (seeing more accurately – seeing what you really are), not over-correction to the 180 position, Like driving or hang gliding’ “correction” (steering) is done with purpose – to maintain course – not as a knee jerk reaction. If you’ve ever driven with a new driver who doesn’t perceive small adjustments or the subtlety of the steering wheel, you get a nice jolt.

    While it is true that opposite often means off by 180, in reality opposite most accurately means “going in a different direction.” If we’re in Texas and you go (following the chart) to California, I do not have to wind up in Florida to be “opposite.” Washington state would ESSENTIALLY produce the same result! Opposite, most accurately means being off, out of balance or being “on”/ maintaining “balance” (as defined by the Creator)

    1. Thanks Jay,

      You make an interesting observation that I agree with, and I also agree with Jefri when he says humility is thinking about ourselves as we are, or accurately.

      Rather than looking at opposites, I am trying to explore this concept of accuracy, seeing ourselves as we really are, a bit further.

      What I am observing is that if we don’t think of ourselves as (morally) better than someone else, then logic implies we must do one of the following:
      1. view ourselves as worse than the other person,
      2. view ourselves as exactly morally equivalent to them, or
      3. refuse to think about our relative morality at all in connection with the other person.

      Since [2] being exactly morally equivalent to someone else seems highly improbable (and also perhaps, unknowable, if we are to be precise), and since we naturally evaluate the perceived moral condition of others as well as ourselves (I think scripture presumes that we do so, and even encourages this), I would also rule out [3], leaving [1] as the only reasonable posture we can take.

      If [1] is our only reasonable posture in the context of a single person (and I think the above observations constitute proof that it is), then it is easy to extend this to everyone else (rather than just “someone” else) and we then must deduce that humility implies esteeming ourselves to be morally inferior to everyone else, which is the same as esteeming ourselves as the vilest person who has ever lived. This seems to be what Paul does when he confesses to being chief of sinners, and the least of all of God’s elect. Disagreeing with this deduction obligates us to find a problem with the above premise and conclusion, and I am unable to do so.

      However, this posture of esteeming ALL others morally better than ourselves contradicts our common life experience, all of our observations, as well as our instincts and common sense: most everyone is not seeking God at all, so we who are seeking Him, in at least some minimal fashion, should be a bit further along in our moral achievements; we are clearly not morally inferior to everyone else if we look at things objectively. So, how do we reconcile this with the above?

      My only way forward here is to ask the question: “What would I be like without God helping me to be good?” In other words, “How much of my goodness should I take credit for, and how much should I give God credit for?” My answer here is clear: all of my goodness I attribute to God. This implies that my estimation of myself, what I am on my own apart from God, is that I am unthinkably wicked. This is what I think accuracy, thinking clearly about ourselves, requires: “Woe is me, for I am undone!” We esteem ALL others morally better than ourselves, not as we perceive ourselves to be in practice, for that ignores the undeserved and irresistible work of God in us, but what we are in theory, what we would be apart from God: desperately wicked.

      Thoughts here?

      1. Hi Tim,

        Since you numbered the choices, you made it easier to distill and express some thoughts.
        1. view ourselves as worse than the other person,
        2. view ourselves as exactly morally equivalent to them, or
        3. refuse to think about our relative morality at all in connection with the other person

        In a general sense, I actually see number 2 as the goal!

        As you said, we cannot know things “exactly,” We can however “ball park” (guestimate) it. Here, I believe, lies a profound reality … that I may not have thought about expressing succinctly were it not for your questioning.

        I cannot know exactly what fully lies within you or where you are spiritually. I can, however use “discernment” to ballpark your overall position, attitude, approach, etc. … For example, Tim is a veteran believer who likes – and believes it vital – to ask probing questions about faith, life, human dynamics. This is the you that you allow other people to see and (discernment would suggest that) this is the real you (more or less) when you’re pondering things in your heart/mind and nobody is looking (or no one can see). … So, if you were to suddenly start doing all or most of your business on Shabbat, I might say, “Hey, Tim. what’s going on with you?” Why? Because I think of you as a SERIOUS believer. Serious meaning that you’re willing to put in the work to grow, to be ok with not always being comfortable, to push beyond your experiences and to question, question. The important thing isn’t that I always agree with you, rather that I be diligent to squirt fuel on that fire whenever Yah allows me the opportunity. You’ve conclude that, essentially, there God is nothing else. So, without expecting you to be perfect, that is (more or less) the standard that I hold you to.

        NOT because this is what I impose upon you, rather based upon your overall actions and what you strive for. In other words, what you proclaim, whether or not such is verbalized (which, in your case, it is). I can do this with you because you take things as seriously as I do … But what If you were cut from a different mold?

        I cannot do option 3 with my fellow humans because that would require me to not question anything about life and willfully abort all curiosity that God has put within me. I cannot option 1 because that would imply that I either need to work harder or smarter to attain better results (fruit). The key here is not a works base system, rather a probing of ability. … If I am more or less where I need to be (who can know exactly) and you are more or less where you need to be, then even if you have 7 times my ability and 7 or more times my fruit (who can know exactly) you and I would ESSENTIALLY (more or less) be EQUALS.

        The general problem with the Body is that we are often NOT able to see people as equals – not necessarily because of ego, rather because AWARENESS. In this case, I may indirectly perceive myself as better than someone NOT because that is acceptable to me (quite the contrary) rather because I just can’t get the urgency stirred up within that individual,…Kind of like saying, you’re not in competition with me or anyone else – just stir the gifts within you that God has given you

        Seeing people as equals CERTAINLY does not mean that things will look equal outwardly…ex, 5 talents gained 5 more, 2 talents gained 2 more, If the guy with 1 talent merely would have gained interest (which would be a far cry from doubling funds), he more or less (not exactly) would have been EQUAL! to the other 2. … Yet, he failed to do -what he was CAPABLE of doing!

        It’s about utilizing ability, not necessarily measuring results.

        1. This is very interesting and helpful to me.

          You say below, “I cannot (accept) option 1 because that would imply that I either need to work harder or smarter to attain better results (fruit).”I don’t see the connection here. Why would esteeming others better than ourselves, in itself, drive us to work harder? God isn’t measuring us against others, or grading us on a curve. Why can’t we already be doing our very best to follow God and still admit that without Him we’d likely be worse than everyone else? This should not make me feel vulnerable or fearful if I know that I am eternally safe through the redemption of Messiah, such that YAH will not impute iniquity to me (Ro 4:7-8). However, without this confidence, I agree that his posture should be absolutely terrifying. But in light of it, why would I be stressed by admitting my true condition without Him?

          I also don’t see how to reconcile Php 2:3b with your position. How are you doing this?

          1. In reality, I really wouldn’t be trying to work harder because I see myself (more or less) as doing my part or doing what I can with things. Granted, I might admire someone’s gifting. But, if the admiration moves beyond a normal stage where I am focusing on it a bit too much – then I might tell myself to take a cue and work “smarter.” (better approach, streamlining effort, etc.) I really appreciate quality. When I see certain people moving in their gift (especially when they don’t make it about them) I am enamored with the beauty, the quality, the reflection of Yah (whether or not that person knows it is Yah who gives the gift). I work diligently (loosely speaking “hard”) by nature. I want to know the Creator and be utilized (do my part) in whatever way I can,.If I’m focusing on someone’s gift too long, that could be an indication (for me) that I need to work SMARTER in order to do likewise with my gifts.

            Regarding Phil 2, I see other as “beyond” – more important than – me because we are part of a collective Body. I can only do so much, regardless of anointing. Like Messiah said (not begrudgingly), “greater things than this, will you do”. … He raised the dead literally and figuratively. I’d be elated just to do likewise – How many of us really do? People have told me that I really helped them (with teary eyes, thanking God profusely) but the bottom line is that I never raised a dead person physically. I’d be thrilled to be used in that way even without anybody knowing about it. I wouldn’t be able to stop saying, “wow, God, thank you God”

            I see the gifts (or, at least, the potential) in people and long for what could be – and EVENTUALLY will be. There is an acute awareness that I myself cannot make that happen. MORE (greater) than me is needed. I value people tremendously, even when I’m frustrated by their (seeming) unwillingness to throw their gifts into the mix.. .I could be a fabulous shade of red (or blue, green , etc) yet a tapestry utilizes many colors. I’m part of a tapestry … Even in my finest hour, it aint about me.

            Oh, it is – I have to choose to be obedient – but, yet, it’s not.

            Likewise, on the hand (or side of coin) you really aren’t greater than me because we are each held accountable for what we have been given (growth is me vs me, not me vs you – so its hard to have a lesser and a greater…

            On the other hand, YOU are part of the collective “non-Jay” elements, which makes you quite a bit GREATER than myself. Otherwise stated, the Gospel (redemption, transformation) is both individual and corporate. So, you are both equal to and greater than me at the same time. If I see you as lesser than me, Yah just may address that “attitude” faster I can blink.

            Hopefully, this clarifies a bit.

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