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Faith Column: The meaning of pride

F. Neil Folks/For the Saturday Morning Press

Pride is a word with two meanings, one of positive attitude and one of negative in connotation. Pride can be defined as a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction in an achievement, an accomplishment, or in someone else or something else.

The other side of the coin defines the word as being conceit, egotism, vanity, vainglory, all over one’s appearance or status in life (the Pharisee standing on the street corner thumping his chest about what or who he is), an inflated sense of ego of oneself. The word has seemingly has been a problem for humanity.

Pride in one’s nation or in one’s neighborhood or in one’s children is somewhat different from that of having pride in themselves (Prov 17:6), a single-minded approach in one’s attitude. I’ve heard many times since we as community have started looking more closely at ourselves since the WildEarth’s law suit against our coal companies and power plants, that one attribute that seems to gone by the wayside is “Community Pride.” So, which side of the coin shall we use in describing ourselves as community?

Pulling some stats from the Biblical Arena, “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology” Walter M. Dunnett, Author, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the meanings of this word Pride. According to Dunnett, there are many more negative uses of the word than there are positives. Fifteen Old Testament texts (NIV) contain the word “arrogance, nearly half of them (7) in the prophets, five in the poetical texts, and three others in Deuteronomy.

What constitutes a “proud” person or community? In the wisdom literature, “the proud” are distinct from the “righteous” and the humble. In the Septuagint it means one who is insolent, presumptuous, or arrogant, a scoffer or a mocker. Thus, in the Old Testament Books, the prideful (referring more to those who’s attitude is beyond reproach) are generally associated with the wicked, the arrogant, the presumptuous, and those who are insolent toward God. It’s them before God.

Most of the adjectives joined with “pride” in the Old Testament are negative in connotation, including words such as “stubborn” (Lev 26:19), “overpowering” (Isa 16:6), and “great” (Jer 13:9). In one instance there is a positive phrase “everlasting pride” describes the status of a restored Zion (Isa 60:15). Most of the synonyms give a negative sense: “contempt” (Psa 31:18); “wrongdoing” (Job 33:17), “trust” (Psa 62:10), “arrogance” (Prov 8:13), “insolence (Isa16:6), and “conceit” (Jer 48:29. There is one exception and that is “Glory” (Isa 4:2)

In the New Testament, the abstract use of hybris (u&bri) (pride) is completely absent. It refers more to ill-treatment, hardship, disaster, or a violent or insolent person, community, or nation. God opposes the proud (Prov 3:34). Both James (4:6) and Peter (1 Peter 5:5) cite this Old Testament text, the “proud/arrogant” person. This stands in contrast to the word “humble,” a quality that God honors. While his wrath is upon the proud, he will visit the “the humble in grace.”

All through my readings, the word “attitude” is referred to directly or indirectly. It seems to be an inner attribute of how one feels and looks at life, his/her position in life. I see most of our community leaders more in the humble state of mind doing what it takes to be best for the “Common Good” of our community. In much of my work in the community and particularly in my Detention

Center activities, I evaluate what I do based upon “Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOOD WILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? And finally, Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? (The Rotary Motto and I am a Rotarian). God’s gift to me is my life; what is my gift to God? It is being proud of the work I do in his name, ALL to his “glory.” I do it with a very quiet “attitude.” The praise I get will come from HIM. In closing, I am “PROUD” of our community leadership and the hard work they are doing to bring “new life” to Craig. You should be too! It’s all for God’s Glory.

F. Neil Folks is a chaplain for the Ministerial Alliance in Craig.F. Neil Folks is a chaplain for the Ministerial Alliance in Craig.F. Neil Folks is a chaplain for the Ministerial Alliance in Craig.


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