Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pride: Good or Bad?

Pride, South Portal, Chartres Cathedral
On a haughty high horse, going into a fall...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Last Sunday in the Bible study class that I attend in my church, we read 1 Corinthians 4:6 in the course of our study:
6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride (phusiousthe) in one man over against another.
The trouble in the Corinth church stemmed from factionalism, with some believers identifying with Paul, others with Apollos, others with somebody else, and so on. Paul's warning about taking pride in one man over against another was a warning against this factionalism.

This led to a discussion of pride, which the Bible generally condemns as a very bad attitude. Typical examples occur in Proverbs 16:18 and 18:12:
Proverbs 16:18 Pride (MT: גָּאוֹן, gaon; LXX: υβρις, hubris) goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (New International Version)

Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud (MT: יִגְבַּהּ, yigbah; LXX: υψουται, hupsoutai), but humility comes before honor. (New International Version)
And of course, pride is often identified as the first sin in speculations about Satan's rebellion, based on interpretations of such passages as Isaiah 14:12-15:
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star (MT: הֵילֵל, helel; LXX: εωσφορος, heosphoros; Vul: lucifer), son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit. (New International Version)
The passage does not specify that the rebellious one is Satan, nor does the context do so, but the identification is traditional, based on the word "lucifer" in the Vulgate's Latin translation verse 12 and on such New Testament passages as Revelation 9:1 and 12:9 and 2 Peter 2:4. An interesting study on the identification of the figure with Lucifer-Satan can be found at the CRI/Voice, Institute, an online site about which I otherwise know nothing. At any rate, the 'story' of this figure in Isaiah 14:12-15 would appear to exemplify the warning given in Proverbs 16:18 and 18:12 about pride leading to one's downfall.

Yet, pride is not always condemned. In two passages, Paul refers to pride in favorable ways:
2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride (kauchmatos) in us, so that you can answer those who take pride (kauchomenous) in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. (New International Version)

Galatians 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride (kauchama) in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. (New International Version)
The related Greek words here, kauchaomai (verb) and kauchama (noun) -- "take pride in" and "pride," respectively -- differ from the Greek words hubris ("pride": Proverbs 16:18) and hupsoutai ("proud": Proverbs 18:12) as well as from Paul's negative use of phusiousthe in 1 Corinthians 4:6 (literally, "be puffed up").

The words kauchaomai and kauchama also occur elsewhere in a positive sense: by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:12, 7:4, and 8:24 and by James in 1:9.

I suspect that the difference lies not solely in the words used but more in the attitude expressed. Perhaps "confidence" would be a better translation to consider when kauchaomai and kauchama are used positively, but I probably need to look into this point some more.

At any rate, pride can be good or bad, but I'll risk taking pride in my wife today as perhaps a good attitude, for this day is the twelfth anniversary of our very happy marriage.

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At 8:37 AM, Blogger Hathor said...


At 1:57 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Hathor. I appreciate that.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:20 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Congrats and happy anniversary!

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...


Peace and blessings,


At 6:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jeff.

I see that you've been posting a lot at your place recently. I intend to find some time for reading soon and leave my marks...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin. Same to you.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy twelfth anniversary!

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Happy Anniversary, Jeffery!

At 3:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Charles, and I perceive no occult messages in your comment today ... but perhaps I'm just dumbfounded at my twelve years of happiness.

Actually, fifteen if we count the three years of 'courting'.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:31 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Malcolm. I'm real proud you're here.

Oops ... is that the good pride, or the bad?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:26 PM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Congratulations and happy anniversary to you and your wife, Jeffery.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, KM. I'll pass the word along.

Jeffery Hodges

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