IS IT PERMISSIBLE FOR US TO BE PROUD OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
What is the difference between taking pleasure in our work, and being guilty of the sin of pride?
It is not wrong or sinful to be proud of or take pleasure in a job well done—winning an award, following a difficult recipe in the kitchen, running a successful business, passing a challenging exam, negotiating bargains, graduating school, raising a family, and the like. We can scrutinize and be satisfied with the work we did. This attitude is simply opposed to being displeased (which discontentment would motivate us to do it again until we got it right). Also, we can and should be proud of our heritage (ethnicity, nationality). (For more information about patriotism, see our related study linked at the end of this article.)
The problem is excessive satisfaction, a narcissistic or egotistical sentiment. It is an all-consuming attitude of, “I can do it better than everyone else, I know more than everyone else, I am superior to everyone else.” Rather than a healthy sense of reality, it becomes fantasy. It is not what we did, but rather how it compares to what others have done. It is not who we are, but how we relate to who others are. We get an elevated opinion of ourselves and our accomplishments. Soon, we see ourselves as sinless and our work impeccable, perfect, faultless. This “so-sure-of-self” attitude places us on a slippery slope. Since we have adopted an attitude of being above all wrongdoing, that false sense of security causes us to let our guard down. We are not so careful in our activities anymore because we assume we are immune to error. Such sloppiness on our part increasingly introduces the inclination to failure we thought we would never experience!
Christ commented in Mark chapter 7: “ And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Pride is spoken of as originating from our sinful heart. The sinner exalts self, self, self; pride and self are always united.
Undue gratification and extreme satisfaction will eventually lead to pride (and not the good kind as in our opening paragraph). If abundant success comes our way, if we focus too much on our national identity, we will go the way of unreasonableness. Again, in our own eyes, we have become superior to others. We will adopt an attitude of invincibility and infallibility. Brethren, if we are to enjoy successful Christian lives (and steer clear of self-infatuation), we must (!) be armed with these verses before we face the problems. We must (!) familiarize ourselves with the truth so we can fight error when it begins to creep into our life.
The Book of Proverbs says much about pride. Its middle verse is chapter 16, verse 18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (And, as we pointed out earlier, this is most certainly true in our experience!) Notice some other verses:
- Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”
- Proverbs 11:2: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [humble] is wisdom.”
- Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention [fighting, arguing]: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
- Proverbs 14:3: “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride [self drives the silly]: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
- Proverbs 29:23: “A man’s pride shall bring him low [indeed!!]: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
First Timothy 3:6 says the “bishop” is “Not [to be] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” New Christians should not be leaders within churches or groups, for quickly assuming such important roles will cause them to go the way Lucifer did before he became Satan. Ezekiel 28:17 is Almighty God speaking to Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” Here is Satan’s origin: he became too focused on himself, and he forgot his Creator was God and he was not! Job 41:34 thus says of Satan, “he is a king over all the children of pride.” Satan is no longer interested in worshipping the one true God; he desires all worship for himself (see Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8). Hence, he recruited man to side with him, and prideful Adam willfully joined (that federal head corrupted the whole human race so that it is sinful)!
A brother in Christ, long departed to Heaven, said most aptly many decades ago: “The way ‘up’ with God is ‘down!’” He was, of course, referring to Bible verses such as those found in Philippians chapter 2:
“ Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
“ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Lord Jesus Christ was certainly not a prideful Man. He was sinless, fully God and fully Man. He was the perfect Man. If you study His earthly ministry (Matthew through John), you will see that He made every attempt to draw attention to His Heavenly Father rather than Himself. When people began making Him the focus of their affection, He would withdraw to another location. He knew who He was (God’s beloved Son), and He took a confident stand in His identity, but He preferred to glorify His Heavenly Father as opposed to Himself. He set aside His desires, choosing rather to make His Father’s will become His will. Out of love and honor, He went to the cross of Calvary because His Father wanted Him to go. Since He was obedient to His Father, His Father will glorify Him. All creation will one day bow to Him, and confess Jesus Christ is Lord (thereby glorifying Father God)!
Yes, the way “up” with the God of the Bible is “down,” and may we never forget it!