Pride vs Proud
September 14, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

green and white playing cards stacked like a house

This past Sunday…

…we kicked off a new sermon series in our semester long theme of #YouBelong.  In our first week of “House of Cards” we explored the fragility that can come when we bring our individual experiences of God together in a community called “Church.”  We ended with the one thing we all share in common and the foundation that glues us together:

We are all broken and battered.  We are all in need of God’s grace and love.

It’s what we read in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Which doesn’t feel good to say

Even the words I used, such as “broken,” instead of saying “sinful” is a softening of language deemed too uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, too many churches only shouted Romans 3:23 and did not move enough to Romans 8:38-39 or Genesis 1:27.  Without emphasizing God’s grace and love, along with humanity’s capacity for God-inspired goodness, people faded away from the church…and who can blame them?

Who wants to hear every week how terrible they are?

Shouldn’t I be proud of who I am?

The counselor of my middle school growing up focused a lot of self-esteem.  It’s middle school after all.  From a young age we were told to ignore those who put us down, called us ugly, or said there was anything wrong with us.  We looked in the mirror to affirm ourselves and we were told that we were unique by design.

We were told to have pride in ourselves.

Which was an interesting contradiction to a scripture I had heard often.

Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pride Vs. Proud

In Webster’s these two words share essentially the same definition.  But I believe there’s a difference.  I think we “have” pride.  I think we “are” proud.  It may be semantical, but when we “are” something it’s part of God’s creative design.  When we seek to “have” something it’s about our own achievements and typically garnered from outside of ourselves.

Pride is being better by comparison.

Proud is being secure.

Pride leads to put-down and conflict.

Proud leads to respect for self and others.

Can I be proud as a Christian?

I say yes.  I think we can be proud that God called us good and that we are created in God’s own image.  I think we can be proud that the Spirit was given to us by Jesus Christ.  I think we can be proud of what we are capable of and what we’ve already become.  If we are all proud, I actually think we’d be the healthiest, most productive, most supportive church in the world.

Good things come when we recognize good things.

Good things come when we recognize our capacity to SERVE.

Good things come when we recognize our capacity to GIVE.

Good things come when we recognize our capacity to CARE.

Can I have pride as a Christian?

I say no, or at least we shouldn’t.  Of course, we’ll all struggle with this.  We live in a world that measures success by growth, achievement, and competition.  There is no success that isn’t measured extrinsically, so of course we will struggle with our self-worth and place in God’s church by comparison to others.  But I think that is sinful.  And broken.

I think it is outside of God’s design for us to puff up our chest at each other, and I think it’s impossible to build a sturdy church if we’re constantly comparing ourselves to anything but God’s wisdom and ways.  So when we talk about being sinful…or broken…or wayward, it’s not because we don’t want you to be proud of yourself.  It’s because all of us suffer from pride.

Paul recounts a conversation about his own pride to the Corinthians in the 2nd letter he wrote to them: “but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’  So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Imagine how strong we’d be if we knew we needed to be strengthened?

Imagine how strong we’d be if we all were held up by Christ and each other?

I think that would be something we’d be proud of.


David Lessner

P.S. – As we’re being introduced to our Missions during worship throughout September, I wanted to re-introduce you to our partner church in Honduras, Quisgualagua United Methodist Church!  Pastor Keri Lynn will tell you more about it in 2 Sundays, but here’s a picture from their Children’s Sunday Celebration!  What a blessing to be in ministry with people all over the world!

group of people gathered for a photo in a room

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