Love, Peace, Respect … and Pride?
Posted by January 31, 2017on
A decorative flag got me thinking about what the Bible says about pride. It’s not a pretty picture.
Recently, as I was driving through town, I saw a decorative flag hanging on a porch. Normally, these don’t catch my eye, but this one did. Without going into what this flag represents in today’s society, suffice it to say that it was very brightly colored, and on it were four simple words: Love, Peace, Respect, Pride.
It took several moments for what I had seen to fully register in my mind. Once it did, I was stunned. Wait. Had I read that correctly? Love, peace, respect … pride?
Is it possible? Can pride exist alongside love, peace and respect?
I looked pride up in Webster’s Dictionary, which confirmed it means “inordinate self-esteem … a sense of one’s own worth and abhorrence of what is beneath or unworthy of oneself; lofty self-respect.” Does that sound like something that goes with love, peace or respect?
Of course, the owners of the flag probably had a different meaning in mind, but it got me thinking about what God says about love, peace, respect—and pride.
If you have pride, are you going to love anyone else? Or are you going to look down on others and see them as “unworthy”?
God instructs us repeatedly in His Word to love our neighbor. One of the most well-known examples is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In response to a lawyer who was testing Him, Jesus tells this parable:
An “average Joe” kind of guy was going about his business one day, when he was violently mugged and left for dead. Over the course of time, two men walked by him. They both saw him, but neither of them stopped or offered to get help. One fellow even went so far as to cross to the other side of the street to pass by!
Finally, someone stopped to help him. A despised Samaritan performed first aid and then gave him a ride to the nearest inn, where he could rest and recover. To top it all off, the Samaritan paid for everything! How is that for loving your neighbor?
We are instructed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Can we truly do that if we are prideful? Look at the definition of pride again. If we are esteeming ourselves higher than others, we are not following God’s instructions.
So how can we love the way God tells us to love? Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit [read, pride], but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
There is no room for pride in godly love.
How about peace? Can it coexist with pride? Pride, by definition, cannot promote true peace, for true peace involves everyone being at peace and being peacemakers. If you are prideful, you will always be striving and contentious, never attaining or creating peace.
The summary heading the editors put on the fourth chapter of James in the New King James Version reads, “Pride Promotes Strife.” Isn’t strife the opposite of peace? Reading the first 10 verses of this chapter reveals that wars and fights are a byproduct of pride. Verse 6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And verse 10 instructs us to “humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
We are to live in peace with everyone, and God tells us how. Romans 12:9-21 includes these instructions: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (verse 16). And verse 18 tells us to try to “live peaceably with all men.” Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Clearly, pride cannot coexist with peace.
Lastly, can you truly respect others if you are prideful? Again, read the definition of pride. If you see others as “beneath” you or “unworthy,” there is no real respect for others—just self-respect.
Christ gave an example of how to show respect: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). We are to respect and honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17).
Respecting others circles back to love for neighbor. Love and respect go hand in hand. Pride walks alone.
We are warned that attitudes like pride will be prevalent in the days before Jesus Christ’s return (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Pride is specifically mentioned, along with haughtiness, boastfulness and love of self. And verse 5 warns us to turn away from people like this!
Galatians 5:19-21 lists the works of the flesh, among them selfish ambitions, contentions and envy, all of which stem from pride. And we are warned that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 21, emphasis added). Verses 22-23 of this chapter show us the fruit of God’s Spirit—the exact opposite of the fruits of the flesh. Notice that love and peace are right at the top!
This survey convinced me that pride has no place with love, peace or respect.