4.24.2011

Pride Goeth


Loved this Wall Street Journal article and love the concept: "Re-Tweeting (Not-So) Humble Promoters." The so-called "Humblebrag" is a self-deprecating way to puff up yourself. My favorite one from the article: "I just realized I've only showered in ONE of my FIVE showers since I've moved in here. This must change."

Funny as these examples are, though, pride is a serious matter, though. And my, how prevalent it is in our day. And I'm not just talking about the standard fare of "look how great I am" or even the above examples of inner smugness masquerading as false modesty. No, I'm talking about a far more insidious, common, and debilitating form of pride. I'm talking about the pride of being our own god.

I'm not sure I can say that Christians are the worst at this, because I don't hang out with people of other faith persuasions as much as I do Christians, and because I am myself a Christian and I know my own heart. But we so-called followers of Jesus and lovers of God are quite good at all kinds of pride. We don't often trade in the blatant versions, but we have our own "humblebrags." (You could consider my post earlier this month on committing Bible verses to memory a particularly egregious one: "look at me struggle to memorize my 100 Bible verses." Guilty as charged.)

As a college friend of mine who I used to pray with would often say, we can even be prideful that we are struggling with pride, for even that can be twisted into a form of self-congratulations for being mature enough to be that aware. The fact of the matter is, even we, who of all people have reason, instruction, and motivation to get out of the way and let God get the glory, seem to find it hard to shake the attitude of putting ourselves first, desperately seeking to feel good about ourselves and to exalt ourselves before others.

Of course, the response to this is not that poor self-esteem is to be sought after, for poor self-esteem is another form of pride. The Christian who says, "I'm a worm," and gets stuck there, doesn't make God happy because he doesn't continue on to "but God is glorious." If we cherish our worminess because we are being honest with ourselves and because it gives God room to be even greater, that's great; but if we wallow in our worminess or if we take secret delight in it because it makes us seem more holy to others, that's not so great.

I don't expect those who do not believe in the God of the Bible to find any of this sensible or attractive. One can read this and think that Christians suffer from acute neuroses and/or that their God is vain and petty and shallow and insecure. It offends the natural man's very sense of self to think that there is any other way of life than to be at the center of attention, decision-making authority, and glory. It seems ridiculous to become smaller that something else become bigger, something else that demands all of the glory and shares it with no one and no thing. It seems more sensible, more enjoyable, more decent to call your own shots, look for your own self, decide for yourself what's good and right and pleasurable.

Alas, observing and talking to us Christians, why would it seem we have anything different or better to offer? All we show is the same me-centeredness, insecurity, and glory-seeking; we just do it in ways that make ourselves look and feel good to our fellow Christians. We keep score, just with different markers of success. We boast some times and wallow other times, just like everyone else. And, probably better than most, we "humblebrag."

We don't come across as people who have truly been in the presence of something so great, so arresting, so life-altering, so worthy of all glory, that it really is the most logical thing to be subsumed by it, detached from the need to make ourselves feel good or look better, wholeheartedly focused on one thing. When Christians become so satisfied and so adoring of a God who promises our satisfaction and warrants our adoration, I guarantee you we will not struggle so much with pride, and a world that is watching us will become irresistibly interested.

It is hard to shake pride, but it is a sin worth fighting off. For when it is burned away, we are left restored to how we were first made to be and how we will one day forever be: giving praise to a God supremely worthy of praise. And then, no one will feel the need to "humblebrag."

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