Pride is all about me. Pride is all about protecting myself, protecting my reputation. This means that pride is an attempt to hold myself, defend myself from every potential threat. And pride does this generally in two ways: either it blusters or in whines. And the two are frequently related. The bluster front is loud and bossy and opinionated. But since it’s all about self-preservation, self-defense, the opinions and assertions are self-supporting, self-originating. I think I’m right because I said so, because I think so, because I feel like it. This makes the opinion all the more significant and contrary opinions all the more threatening. Because you are not merely questioning my opinion; you are questioning me, my identity, my value, my worth. But this is insanity. How can you ever be big enough, intelligent enough, strong enough to know all things, understand all things, and anticipate all things? You can’t. And since you are hardly an authority on everything, your authority quickly breaks down. Pride is brittle. You’ve been wrong, you’re probably wrong about something right now, and you’ll no doubt be wrong again in the future.
So, frequently as the bluster fortress of toothpicks splinters and crumbles, the ego retreats to the even more insidious fortress of pride found in the self-centered whine. This is the victim card, the emotional flop. It may be infatuation with sins real or imagined, it may be vague hurt feelings, it may be a hazy moping, with long hours monologuing or journaling, marked by the ever-present, all-commanding first person singular pronoun: I… I… I… And the point is that the ego is still in power, still running the play, still demanding respect, protection, deference. Only now it demands to be taken seriously, to be listened to on the authority of big, teary kitten eyes and a trembling lower lip. But this is only effective because there are enough of us all playing at this pride game. There are enough fawning adherents to this dark me-religion. So push and shove and scrape and grab right up to the point at which we would expose our own devotion to ourselves. And so we frequently refuse to unmask the passive aggressive whiny pride because it’s dicey and dangerous, and our brittle pride instinctively knows it can’t handle much stress or pressure. Bluster pride is a brittle, stick wall of defense; whiny pride is a foul little marsh that protects the self through the stench.
But humility is a stone fortress. Humility is more confident than pride. Humility is stronger than pride. And that’s because humility only insists on what has been received. Humility submits to the Word of God. Humility submits to true human authority. Pride asserts and insists on personal authority, but humility asserts and insists on the authority of Another. Humility is bold on behalf of God. Humility is confident based on the authority of Scripture. Humility is strong on the basis of the strength of Jesus Christ. Pride is about me, and therefore is only as strong as me. Which turns out to be ridiculously weak and flimsy. But humility is about Jesus. Humility is about finding yourself in Him. And then it isn’t about you. It’s about the truth. It’s about goodness. You are free to be wrong, and you are free to be right. You are free to fail, and you are free to succeed. Because it isn’t about you. You’ve died, and your life is hidden with God in Christ. But far from making you a pushover, far from making you a doormat apologizing for breathing, humility makes you bold. Because it isn’t about you. It’s about Christ. It’s about the goodness of God. It’s about His Word being good and true and altogether lovely.
Pride is brittle and whiny and angsty and everything is a personal offense. But true Christian humility is fierce and glad and strong because now all that we are is bound up in Christ.