By David Faust
Some pride is healthy and appropriate. At the end of a hard day’s work a laborer feels the satisfaction of a job well done. A fifth-grader smiles at her grade card because her extra effort in class has been rewarded. A newly baptized believer embraces the dignity and self-respect that come from knowing he’s a child of the King. A college recognizes a lifetime of service by honoring an alumnus at graduation.
Other kinds of pride are unhealthy and dangerous. There’s the smugness that insists “I’m always right,” the self-righteousness that looks down on others, and the conceit that demands to control every situation. Sinful pride takes over when someone’s drive for power is stronger than his desire to serve. It’s the inordinate hunger for recognition that makes a college student want to be a “big man on campus,” and the selfish ambition that makes a minister long to lead a “prominent church in the brotherhood.” It’s the arrogance that refuses to rely on God and pushes a person to think, “I can handle this myself.”
It’s Nebuchadnezzar strolling on the roof of his royal palace boasting, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). It’s Herod basking in the adulation of the crowd instead of giving praise to God (Acts 12:21-23).
Not to Us
Psalm 115:1 jolts us back to reality by saying, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”
Why does the psalmist repeat the phrase, “not to us”? Some truths need frequent repetition. “Not to us be the glory.” We need to hear that message often because our hearts crave recognition that rightly belongs only to God.
Did you finish an important project and receive accolades from the boss? Enjoy the moment and celebrate the accomplishment—but in your heart remember to say, “Not to me, Lord, but to your name be the glory.” Did your ninth-inning home run win the game? Did your intervention resolve a sticky disagreement between friends? Did you cook a delicious meal, sing a beautiful song, preach a powerful sermon, or write an article that others praise? Savor the experience. Embrace the satisfaction of a job well done. But always remember who gave you the ability to live, think, act, and create. Remember who deserves the ultimate praise.
Shine the Spotlight on God
Our goal should be to draw attention to the Lord because of his “love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1). Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God deserves the glory. His face, not ours, deserves the spotlight. His name, not ours, deserves the headlines.
Years ago the lookout published a story about a fellow who used meager start-up funds to put together a bookstore that eventually became a sizable business. He described his success as follows: “With pride I often say, ‘See what I did.’ In more rational moments I say, ‘See what I did with God’s help.’ When I’m really seeing the big picture, I say, ‘See what God did.’ After even more thought I say, ‘See what God did in spite of me.’”
1. What blessings cause you to feel healthy pride? Have you thanked the Lord for these blessings recently?
2. What tempts you to experience unhealthy, sinful pride? When is the last time you confessed the sin of pride to the Lord?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
THE LOOKOUT’s Bible Reading Plan for May 20, 2012
2 Samuel 8—10
2 Samuel 11, 12
2 Samuel 13
2 Samuel 14, 15
2 Samuel 16, 17
2 Samuel 18, 19