It is one of those strange enigmas where in one breath we’ll say how prideful people drive us crazy and then turn around and beam about how proud we are of our kids. My husband and others in the military are told to take pride in their uniforms and have that American pride, but the second we hear someone boasting, we wish they would stop being so proud.
So where is the line? Is there an acceptable pride? And what does pride have to do with love?
Love is not proud
Pride can often have different meanings. Sometimes it is strangely more along the lines of thankfulness or gratitude. Today my 2-year old was singing a story he made up to a tune from the composer, Dvorák. As a former music education major, I was definitely proud of that!
But in understanding love, we know that love is not proud. This word, proud, comes from a Greek word meaning “to puff or blow up.” It can also be translated as arrogant, inflated, to bear oneself lofty, or to cause to swell up. What do all of those things have in common? Me. Me. Me.
Pride is in opposition to humility. Where pride will lead to conflict and arguments, humility fosters peace and understanding. Pride is condescending to others in order to feel superior. But humility is encouraging and builds another up.
My pride makes it difficult for me to admit my mistakes to my husband. I often want to fight to be “right,” but our relationship loses when I try to “win.” The wonderful thing about humility being applied in a marriage is that if each spouse is putting the other ahead of themselves, then they are each being lifted up and fulfilled. But your marriage won’t stand a chance if pride is in the way. The well-known saying (from Proverbs 16:18) goes:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
That destruction can manifest in your marriage, at work, in relationships with your kids and friends, and at church. No one is immune to the temptation to focus on ourselves.
This is true of a relationship with God. Many people don’t recognize a need for a Savior because they are too proud to relinquish control of their lives. They don’t want to admit that they are nothing without Him. But you can’t have love with pride because “Love is not proud,” and God is Love.