I had ordered a burger and ice tea at McDonald’s. The girl who filled my order was new and clearly stressed. I headed off with my tray when suddenly the same girl appeared with french fries. Putting them on my tray, she said. “You forgot your french fries.”
“Oh, I didn’t order any fries.” I replied.
“Would you please take them anyway,” she asked, “so I don’t look so dumb?”
One of our great fears is not measuring up to our own or other peoples expectations. We don’t want to “look dumb,” especially in front of people we are trying hard to impress. Our egos are fed on the praise of others. The problem is that none of us are perfect. We will inevitably make mistakes. We will fail at times when we most want to look good. Failure is one of the ways that God keeps us humble. Our readiness to admit that we may have made a mistake keeps us human.
Pride can be healthy or unhealthy. There is the healthy pride one takes in a labor of love, completing a degree after facing tremendous obstacles, or nurturing children into people of compassion. We experience healthy pride completing a job which has brought joy to others. Unhealthy pride is the opposite. The Bible says of that pride, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) The pride the scripture writer is speaking of, is the kind of pride which becomes destructive. It’s not the healthy pride of a job done well, rather it becomes a negative force in our lives. Unhealthy pride keeps us from seeing another person’s point of view. It prevents us from caring about what other people value. Unhealthy pride separates us from one another. It separates us from God.
Pride can keep us from relating to a family member or old friend. Pride can interfere at work, school or church. Pride can make a stand, where stands do not need to be made. Stubborn pride even refuses efforts made to reach out to us. It can build a wall declaring judgement on whole segments of the population. A child, a brother, a sister, a co-worker may well feel the full sting of our prideful wrath. Pride can keep us from admitting to anyone, even ourselves – that we may have made a mistake. Pride slinks into our spirits, often leaving us feeling defensive and not quite at peace in our hearts.
The good news is that the sin of pride is not terminal. Confession, really is good for the soul. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) Jesus said, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12) A little humility goes a long way in restoring our relationships with God and with each other.
Is there someone in your life that needs to hear from you a word of reconciliation? Today is a good day to restore a relationship, mend a friendship, swallow some pride, and allow God’s grace to work in and through you.