Friday, February 6, 2009

Love is Not Arrogant

Arrogance, or pride, is another of those hard to pin down topics when it comes to His word. Simply put, we are not to be arrogant, or proud as stated in I Corinthians 13:5·

But wait, aren't we to take pride in all that we do?
· Shouldn't we be proud of our love for our spouse and others?
· Shouldn't we be proud of our child for standing up for what is right, even when it isn't easy?
· Shouldn't we be proud to stand up for our writing, our country, our faith?

The more I researched this, the more challenging this became. Proverbs 11:2 say, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." Hmmm. That's not quite what I wanted to find. Encouraging, but still… And I went on to find Proverbs "Everyone who is arrogant is an abomination to the Lord, be assured, he will not go unpunished." Nope, that's pretty clear. No room for pride. Not to be discouraged, I kept looking (see my blog on perseverance at Crafty Ladies of Suspense if you wonder why I didn't stop with these two verses.) I went on to look for more support for the above points that surely God didn't mean we shouldn't be proud of our work and our efforts. The main point I found over and again is simply worded in Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…." I would encourage each of us to read the rest of Romans 12. Sure, go ahead, read the full chapter, it won't take long. After reading further, "For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function." It's starting to sink in now. Pride is an earthly emotion which brings focus on ourselves. God has given each of us gifts which we are to use to bring Him glory. Short of that, pride and arrogance has no place in our lives. We're no better, no worse than the person standing next to us at any given moment. Our plan is not always HIS plan. We are simply doing God's work, and in that, we should be pleased. 2 Corinthians 10:13 says "But we will not boast beyond limit, but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us, to reach even to you." God DOES want us to do our best, and be proud of the work we do… in His name. God's love cannot focus on one's self, but must be open to the others. God's glory IS the limit.

It isn't an easy concept to wrap one's head around early on a Friday morning. (I started this search Thursday night, and hoped it might have a better slant after a good night of sleep.) It isn't easy to go out into the workplace and say "I only did my job for God." I wonder what my days, my decisions will be like if I can indeed keep my focus on the idea that THIS is what God wants me doing at this moment, on this day, in this blip of Eternity? Just imagine how eliminating pride and arrogance could change our world. I think refocusing on that important distinction between our earthly pride (focused on our human achievements) and Godly satisfaction (following through on God's plan for each of us), my purpose and attitude will change. What do you think?

God Bless,

Carol Steward


  1. Wow, thought provoking. I kept hoping you'd find the opposite in the New Testament because what you found in the Old Testament certainly is an ax over my head. But, then, it is clear... what if everyone of us shed pride and arrogance, what would the world be like. Wow

  2. I kept hoping I'd find it too, so I hope maybe we can hear other thoughts on the subject. Even though the New Testiment upheld the pride is sin, thought, I found much more hope there. Not just condemnation, but 'refocus' your heart on God. On His plan. On His purpose for my life.

    I'm dealing with family issues right now, which I thought this "topic" of pride would be "safe" and "unrelated". As always with His WORD, it always reaches me where I need it most. I needed to hear, again, that God has given me gifts and I need to stop worrying about others' plans, and just take care of my own plan, which is God's purpose for me right now. I was a little more than shocked to see that come out after "pride" in 2 Corinthians.

    What can I say, He is an AWESOME GOD!

  3. Hi Carol:

    This is a very interesting post on a topic I find fascinating. One point I’d like to make is that while the Bible may be the inspired word of God, translations are not. The ancient languages often had far fewer words than English. In many cases a given word had several different meanings. The exact meaning intended by the speaker might depend on context or voice inflection.

    Let’s suppose that there is a single word in an ancient language that can be translated into English as: pride, arrogance smugness self-importance, vanity, snobbery, self-assurance, narcissism, overconfidence, conceit and haughtiness. Well, it makes a big difference in English which word the translator chooses.

    "When pride comes, then comes disgrace” is quite different than “When narcissism comes, then comes disgrace” or “When vanity comes, then comes disgrace.”

    For consistency, there is a tendency for translators to translate the same word the same way in most future cases. If they decide that “X” is going to be translated as ‘pride’, then they can achieve consistency by always translating “x” as ‘pride’, but they do so at the cost of being less accurate. They may even create contradictions!

    When I read the Bible I often employ two meanings for a given word, for example, for ‘pride’ I have the ‘bad-kind-of-pride’ and the ‘good-kind-of-pride’. If you read the Bible this way, there are not nearly as many contradictions.

    “When the ‘bad kind of pride’ comes, then comes disgrace.”



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  5. Yes Vince, I am going to continue to search for the "good" pride verses. I'll let you all know if I find some. As a realist, I tend to look at the "less optimistic" side of most issues, so I shouldn't be too surprised to have found all "negative" pride verses. I even went to different versions and different sources to do my searches so that I would get a mixture of context. From the sheer number of listings that refer to pride in the negative context, I would surmise that historians and translators also feel that the original word was used in a negative sense.

    Nevertheless, Vince, God also loves optimists who choose to look at life through the glass half full, not half empty.:) It's good to have hope, too!

    Ruth, congratulations on being a romance writer! It's a great way to share the joy we've found in a wonderful relationship with God at the center of our relationship.

  6. Carol, thanks for a great post.

    Vince and Ruthy, thanks so much for stopping by!

    I'm on a writers retreat with another LI author (well, LI suspense), Lynette Eason. So I'm sneaking in for a second to read the blog. Now I've got to get back to writing! :)


  7. How many people jump in the air, hands raised and brag or boast or even acknowledge that they write romance????

    LOL, I love romance. I love God. I love being married (most days) and having a partner that shares most of my goals and ideals.


    I'm a romance junkie. I love the gift God gave us in romance. And what a gracious gift, to have the talent and perseverance to expound on love and romance and family strife in the pages of a book. That's precious. And to do so without physical graphics sharpens our story-telling skills.

    So I'd love to see the gracious authors of Christian fiction wave their flags a little higher, boast on what they do. Not with sinful pride but awareness that being a romance writer, junkie, author, lover, etc. is a wholesome thing to do, worthy of praise. Writing good, strong romance with the punch of faith is a blessing.

    Of course I like a dash of humor with my romance because what's funnier than the foibles of a male/female relationship? Nothing I know of. Men are such... men.

    This is me, hand raised for all to see...

    "Hi, my name is Ruth and I'm a romance writer."

    (At least as a romance author, I'm safe to drive with, LOL!)


  8. Hi Carol:

    I am sure you are right about ‘pride’ being mostly, if not exclusively, used in a negative sense in the Bible. The Bible, as a guide to behavior, has a great many “thou shall not” admonitions.

    Along these lines, I found this quote from Matthew 3:13 – 17 of special interest. God the Father says: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. Notice how He didn’t say “of whom I am proud” as a human father might?

    Maybe instead of being ‘proud’ of a job well done we should be ‘well pleased’ with a job well done and instead of being ‘proud’ to proclaim the word of God we should be ‘well pleased’ in doing so.

    As a writer it is interesting to note this quote from John 1:1 “In the beginning there was the word.”.

    Just some late night thoughts.


  9. Carol, though provoking posts. It IS hard to brag ON God without seeming boastful or arrogant in oneself.

    Vince, I appreciate your insights.

  10. Hello Linda:

    Thanks for your nice comment. I've been a big fan since we met at the RWA Chapter meeting in Tulsa some years ago.

    Since you are writing for Love Inspired, I have a question for you.

    Is there any chance you will write a Love Inspired western historical?

    If you wrote a western historical with the words ‘Goodnight Trail’ and ‘Palo Duro’ in the title, you would immediately acquire a potential reading audience of hundreds of thousands of people who have attended the Texas outdoor play at Palo Duro over the years.

    With the name Goodnight as author, marketing would be even easier. The appeal of this book would extend well beyond the romance market. And the subject matter is a natural for a whole series of books. What do you think?



  11. Thought-provoking post.

    Ruthy...I'm a romance junkie too! I knew there were reasons I loved you beyond your endearing tyrantry!!!

    Thanks for coming by the blog,



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