Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Healthy And Unhealthy Pride

Biblegems #84
Question:  Are we sinning when we are proud of our kids', grandkids' accomplishments?   Is it "pride" when I appreciate a compliment?

It is true that the Bible has little to say about pride that is positive. There are exceptions, however; and those exceptions can be instructive. For example:
         Prov. 17:6  Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children (NIV).

In this verse, “crown” and “pride” are descriptive ways of saying the same thing—that it is right and proper for grandparents to feel a sense of “pride” in their grandchildren, and visa versa. The word we translate into English as “pride” literally means “glory” in the Hebrew, and is translated that way in the KJV. The truth is, as the moon reflects the light (the glory) of the sun, children are a reflection (the glory) of their parents.

Here is another example of healthy pride, this time from the New Testament:
2 Cor. 7:4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

Here, “pride”  in the NIV literally translates the Greek term for “pride” or “boasting;” while the KJV goes with the non-literal translation: “glorying.” But either way, the idea is the same. The apostle Paul, who established the Corinthian church, is unashamed to feel great confidence, joy and pride in them! He gladly boasts about them! Why? Because they are a reflection of Jesus—no matter how imperfect—and a reflection of Paul’s tireless work of bringing people to Jesus.

As with so many other words, the word “pride” can mean different things, depending on its context. This is just as true in Hebrew and Greek as it is in English. Those to whom God has entrusted the daunting task of translating the Scriptures into other languages have the responsibility to accurately convey the idea behind the original language, using words that we all understand and in a way that we commonly speak.

More often than not, “pride” in the Bible means the opposite of humble (2 Ki. 19:22) and is typically associated with a wicked heart (Ps. 10:4) and stubborn heart (Lev. 26:19). Such pride is self-centered, self-destructive, and does not give God the glory (2 Chr. 26:16).

Yet there are times when taking pride in our own actions is appropriate, because those actions reflect a choice to reflect our Savior rather than elevate ourselves above others:
         Gal. 6:4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else

Pride is like a mirror; it reflects an image that we want others to see.
James 1:9-10 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

If that desired image is all about us, then pride is self-serving and destructive. Pride in its healthiest form always points back to Jesus, so that our lives become an opportunity for others to see Christ in us.


  1. Thanks for the thought-provoking post! I read the KJV, so I never really thought about pride in a positive light, probably because the word "pride" in translated otherwise in many of the KJV verses, for example "rejoice" in James 1:9. As you said, "pride in its healthiest form always points back to Jesus." Amen!
    God bless,

  2. "Anything I boast, I boast in the Lord." The Apostle Paul.

    Why not take a look at my page?
    God bless,

  3. Thank you for a wonderful article. I am struggling with healthy vs. unhealthy pride. Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!