Most Christians have been conditioned to feel that any and all pride is wrong. An example of this would be when having a conversation with a grandparent that is talking about the accomplishments of their grandchild that says, I’m so proud of him/her,” and then that statement is almost immediately followed by, “Oh I guess that I shouldn’t say that I’m proud!” Thus, this Christian is left frustrated because they have an intense joy and feeling for the accomplishments of their grandchild and the only word they can find to describe this feeling is pride. Then, when they use it, they feel guilty.
The book of Proverbs has much to say about pride, and many of our conclusions about pride come from these scriptures. Consider Proverbs 16:5, Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished. And the verse that is best known is found in the same chapter, Proverbs 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. These verses are speaking of the self-sufficient, big-headed, arrogant and exalted individual. Thus, when a grandparent says that they are proud of their grandchildren, or anyone that brings intense joy, this is not the self-sufficient, big-headed arrogance that God condemns.
Pride is a sin and is the opposite of humility. We can be sure that if and when we are full of pride, God will oppose this sin which is one of humanities greatest offenses. James 4:6 tells us, “…God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” A great example of high pride is seen in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Luke 18:9-14. In this parable, the Pharisee is so full of himself that he feels compelled to tell God how good he is and about all of his accomplishments. He then condescendingly looks down upon the humble tax collector and thanks God that he is not like this man that was an outcast in his mind and society. High pride was seen in Daniel 4:30 when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar said, “…Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” King Nebuchadnezzar had not even finished his braggadocios statement when he heard God speak from heaven his doom and lost kingdom.
We must recognize that our English language lacks the verbiage to distinguish between “good pride” and bad pride. A great example of intense joy is seen in the statement God made twice about Jesus, first at His baptism by John and second at the transfiguration. “…This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased…” Matt. 3:17 and Matt. 17:5. God was acknowledging that His son was a source of intense joy. Everything that Jesus did was approved by God. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” Colossians 2:9. It may come as a surprise to some Bible students that on more than one occasion, Paul speaks of boasting, and when he does, it is not in the context of something that is sinful. In 2 Cor. 7:4 we read, Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. If God expressed great joy in His beloved Son Jesus, and the inspired apostle freely spoke glowingly of the faith of the Corinthian brethren, should we not also freely speak boastful words about others, even if is our grandchildren?
Keith G. Ball is minister of Delaware Church of Christ, 71 State Route 203, Delaware.