Monday, May 28, 2018

Take Pride

Take Pride
May 28, 2018
James 1:9  "Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position."

Pride is not recognized as a good thing or a desirable trait. Every time pride is discussed in the Bible it carries a negative connotation. But is pride an actual sin? Is it sinful to be proud and glad about something. Everyone has felt pride at one time in their lives. We know when it is with benign intent like when a parent sees their child walk across the room for the first time as a toddler or ride a bike for the first time. Their heart is full of satisfaction and they say phrases like, "I'm so proud of you." The Bible even makes mention of the difference between earthly pride and heavenly pride. The subtlety of good pride and bad pride is likely outside our full understanding since our nature is sinful and the Lord's is not. Nonetheless, James told his readers to be prideful about their situation. 

James said, if you are in humble circumstances, take pride in it. But if you are in rich circumstances, take pride in that also. But are the reasons for being prideful about your situation the same? He said if you are rich you should be glad and go ahead and revel in your riches because it is actually a low position. Live it up while you can and get every ounce of enjoyment out of your wealth because it won't last forever. And when that wealth is gone, the rich person (suggestive of Godless) will then be brought low into eternal separation from God. But the person in lowly circumstances, he should also have pride in his heart. Why? Why both scenarios?

When reading it, James is making an analogy of perfect opposites. You can read into the text a little and see the opposite of rich and poor, being made high and being made low, and understanding which side of the coin heaven thinks is the correct one. Taking pride in humble circumstances is a almost an oxymoron. There is nothing to be prideful about, in the eyes of man, when your bank account shows a very low balance. Nonetheless, the Bible recommends being prideful about it. The Bible isn't really saying to boast about have a bank account with a low balance, the Bible is saying to be glad that your riches are in heaven, if that is how you chose to live. No one likes being poor, but living humbly without the pursuit of great gain or lavishness is actually wisdom. The Bible says to be glad for this type of humble worldly situation, because it actually shows spiritual maturity and demonstrates to the Lord your wisdom through your chosen lifestyle. But the Bible really isn't saying to be prideful about it, simply glad in your heart that you made the right choice. 

Most of the time, pride is discussed in the context of it leading to sin and there are plenty  of people who actually think they are better than someone else because of their secret wealth. This too, is the lowly situation, because the humble circumstance is not Godliness either. The Bible said it is OK to take pride in humble circumstances, because pride and humility cannot coexist as you and I understand it. If you actually chose a humble circumstance, and maintained a sinless attitude about it, then be glad because your reward is in Heaven. That is a delicate balance to keep in check, not an easy scenario because it can lead to a proud heart. But thankfully, that was not the point James was trying to make. His readership were Jewish Christians, who were scattered about, due to the intense persecution of Christianity at the time. His readers were already Christians, not the Godless that James mentions were living a wealthy lifestyle and destined to hell. James was warning them not to pursue after worldly wealthy, leaving God behind, because of where it could lead. The pursuit of worldly wealthy, with the goal of living lavishly and lasciviously, will not be of any benefit except for the instant gratification in which it is lived. Go ahead and live it up, in that chosen lifestyle, because that is all there is. You might as well enjoy it for a moment, because eternity in hell follows.

Be glad that you know the side of wisdom, in choosing how you live. Be glad if you actually chose to live that way, knowing there is reward in Heaven for it. Heaven knows this is the better situation and you should, too. Living humbly is the better choice.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 10:4, Prov 8:13, Dan 5:20, Rom 11:13, 2 Cor 5:12, 2 Cor 7:4, Gal 6:4, James 1:9-11, 1 John 2:6 

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