Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pride (And Appearances)

           In my blog yesterday, I posted an excerpt from Chesterton about humility. He describes a difference between the old humility (spurs people on) and the new humility (decreases forward motivation). If nothing else, I hope that people can see this very valuable point: There is more than one definition of humility being used in culture, and not all of the definitions are helpful to a person trying to grow in true humility.

In this post, I'm going to talk about the surface issues of pride and humility, and then dive deeper into underlying causes. This is a hard-hitting subject. If you read the first couple points and feel very agitated, please go ahead and close the browser window until you feel better about the situation. Other, objectivity will have escaped.
Pride: A feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people; a feeling that you are more important or better than other people.
                                                    Merriam-Webster Dictionary
In other words, pride can be described as an attitude of superiority, the internal thought of feeling that “I am better than you.”

Now, where does such an attitude come from?  No one is truly better than any other human; usually, though, we wish to think that we are better than others *if* we judge others. We wouldn't want to face our own condemnation, and so we want to believe that we are better than those we judge.

If a person has pride, what is likely to follow?

1 – They do not heed correction

            The easiest way to check for pride is to notice what your natural response to criticism is. Do you brittle and feel attacked?  Or do you get excited at the possibility of your own improvement and say "Tell me more!" ?    Proud people are uncomfortable with knowing about their own flaws, and so the downsides of having to learn that they are in the wrong overshadow the benefits of repenting from something that's holding them back.
But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, And did not heed Your commandments. - Nehemiah 9:16
They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. - Proverbs 1:30

2 – They do not accept grace (help to become better)

            Why would they want help to become better?  They are good enough as they are (in their mind)!  God offers grace, but the proud pass on by.  They do not enjoy getting help.  They hold on to their own self-respect (self-sufficiency), and they will usually turn on anyone who points out the problems in order to offer grace or assistance.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” - James 4:6
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility.  - Proverbs 18:12

3 – It pains them to admit flaws            Why do the proud hate correction and assistance?  Is it just some in-born trait?  Well no, the problem is that it pains them to see specific ways in which they are sinful and flawed.  It hurts.  In their mind, they are happily ignorance of their flaws.  But these flaws will catch up with them later, if ignorance remains:
[God will] look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low - Job 40:12
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18

4 – Others will notice contempt from them / They act like a person must be good enough in order to receive affection

            Probably most of the time, proud people are not the ones to notice that they proud. Other people start to notice when a proud person is proud, because that proud person will behave (act, speak, tones, body language) in ways that show contempt or disdain for others.

This goes deeper.  The proud only treat people with affection and kindness IF those people are good enough. The lie that they believe and practice is this:  "You must be good enough to receive love and affection."  This lie is why it pains them to see errors in themselves; they feel a loss of love if they notice that they are not good enough.   To be proud is to look down upon the imperfect, rather than to love and show affection to the imperfect.
Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorn of those who are at ease. With the contempt of the proud.   Psalm 123:4

5 – Therefore, when they give affection to themselves, they hide their own flaws from themselves

            True agape love for self includes disciplining self, but since the proud feel that they must be good enough before getting affection, they try to take care of themselves by *not* looking for or listening to input about their flaws.  Pride ultimately leads to an inaccurate view of self.
By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom. - Proverbs 13:10

Let him not trust in futile things [like his own righteousness], deceiving himself, for futility will be his reward. - Job 15:31

6 – Therefore, when they give affection to others they respect, they do not use rebuke.

            Similar to the way that they treat themselves, proud people do not believe in rebuking or correcting those they respect.  And if they see someone else correcting someone they respect, they usually will feel like rebuking *that* person for not be "humble enough."
Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.  Proverbs 27:5


Now the amazing thing about where this ends up is that it looks like humility. To a proud person, humility looks like not confronting other people. After all (in their mind), confrontation is offensive and unloving because it can make others feel attacked, and telling another beggar where to find bread is claiming that you know where the bread is (thinking that you are right). So, by the time a proud person makes it to effect number 6, they can be convinced that they are humble, and anyone who 
confronts them is proud. Their self-righteousness continues.

This type of pride accepts the "new humility" (doubting one's beliefs and aims) and does not accept or enjoy the old humility (having conviction of the aim, but doubting to what extent one meets those goals).

Next, onto the opposite of pride!
Humility: Not thinking of yourself as better than other people; an accurate estimation of self
If a person has humility, what does that look like?

1 – They see us all as loved sinners

            To be humble is to view yourself as imperfect like everyone else is, and to view all imperfect people as lovable. (For if you view yourself the same as everyone else, and then wish to kill everyone, that ends in murder-suicide and is *not* the right type of humble). Therefore, there is no internal need to prove oneself “good enough” in order to see self as lovable.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

2 – They embrace neediness and ask for things

            Imperfection and neediness go hand in hand. We have some natural neediness (being human), and it's good to come to grips with that. But after, our very imperfections make us more needy – we need grace, we need help, we need more truth, we need counsel and love and confrontation.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:16

3 – They admit flaws and welcome feedback

            Humble people already know that they are imperfect, and they don't feel threatened by the fact. Therefore, they are willing to see areas of specific imperfections, and can focus on the bigger benefits of long term improvement and gain. The more truth and character you have, the better your life goes.
Hear instruction and be wise; do not disdain it. - Proverbs 8:33
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. - Proverbs 27:6

For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. - Proverbs 8:11

4 – They receive and enjoy things from God

            Humble people are more than ready to ask for help, to receive grace, to be open and honest with God about flaws, and to enjoy the results of someone else's labor (God's). They do not need to be self-sufficient, because they can get everything they need from others. Even their own confidence is found not in their own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ which has been freely given to them.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7

5 – They lead others and offer advice

            There's a difference between being bossy and being a leader. Being a leader means that you go ahead of others, are glad for where you've gotten, and invite others to utilize the same path. A humble person who sees the value of input for self, will give valuable input to others who they love. A humble person teaching is like a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. 


Now the amazing thing about where this ends up is that, to proud people, it looks like pride. One reason for this is that a humble person finds himself both imperfect and lovable, he loves his neighbor as he loves himself.  Those who do not accept themselves (proud people, people who believe that being good enough must come before acceptance) view self-love as pride.  Similarly, proud people will think that conviction/confidence is superiority, because confidence means that you accept that point of view over other points of view.  Telling someone where to find bread is offensive if, to them, it implies that you're proud to think that you have the correct answer about where food is. 

Humble people have to be careful to avoid giving valuable advice to those who do not value it, who will throw it away and despise truth.
Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words. - Proverbs 23:9
This humility is the "old humility" (having conviction of the aim, but doubting to what extent one meets those goals). Conviction about aims can turn people off to the message, so it takes discernment.


T. Scott Morgan said...

Hi Skarlet,

I've enjoyed reading through your blog (first time visitor here). I noticed you haven't been posting in a while. Are you still active? Not sure how to contact you privately or I would have.

Anyway, I thought I would drop you a note to say that I've enjoyed your blog but have some disagreements, and may want to interact with some of your posts on my own blog (trying to get it off the ground). I would be interested to see what you have to say about my interactions.


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