[NOTE: This post on Pride and the previous one on humility may be the most important subject matter in this blog. If you embrace the thought process presented in that post, you will become smarter, healthier, Godlier, and all your relationships will improve. On the other hand, if you continually yield to the thought process in this post, you will become less intelligent, more irrational, and destructive to yourself and others.
And you’ll probably go to Hell – enjoy!]
The meaning of life is to be one with God, which means we have to become like God. God’s nature is always and completely Right. We can intentionally make progress toward being more right by examining every belief we have and actively trying to prove them wrong. This process is called contrastive thinking. The Biblical term for this mindset is “humility”.
If you’re “always right”, then you’re probably wrong
The opposite of contrastive thinking is comparative thinking. Comparative thinking is the process of actively trying to prove yourself right. It is the unwillingness, or inability to consider the possibility that you could be wrong. Comparative thinking is the state of justifying yourself without regard to whether or not you are actually right. While contrastive thinking is difficult and makes us uncomfortable, comparative thinking is comfortable and makes us feel good about ourselves. There is a Biblical term for comparative thinking. That term is “Pride”.
Throughout the Biblical text, God strongly advocates humility and condemns pride.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
The essence of this philosophy is echoed even in our own interpersonal social relations. Most people respect someone who has the strength to admit they are wrong, learn from it, and grow from the experience. But no one really likes an unapologetically prideful and arrogant jerk – except teenage girls (and adults with the mentality of a teenage girl). However, God has a much more practical reason for His position on pride and humility.
Remember that it is God’s desire that we choose Him so that we can be one with Him for eternity. Thus is it logical to assume that He would want to aid us in our endeavor to become like Him by being more right. And since God has all the Right information, the best way to aid us would be to provide that “righteous” information to us.
Too proud to be right
In order to hear and accept righteousness from God, we obviously have to be willing to hear and accept it. This requires our willingness to be contrastive, because as we saw in the last post, it is highly likely that much of the information we have in our heads is wrong and needs to be corrected and replaced.
But in the words of one of my favorite quotations, “the surest barrier to truth is the assumption that you already have it”. If you believe (or have convinced yourself) that you already possess righteousness and are unwilling to consider that you may be wrong (i.e. you are prideful), then you will reject any righteousness that God tries to provide you and you will remain “wrong” and further from what God desires.
God values humility (contrastive thinking) because it is the only method by which we can ever be more right.
It is the only way we can accept His righteousness.
It is the only way we can be more like God.
It is the only way to successfully fulfill the meaning of life.
It is the only way that God can get what He desires.
God condemns pride because pride makes all these things impossible.
This brings us to an interesting question. If the key to being like God is to be humble, then does that mean that God is humble? The answer is yes. In fact, it could be said that our entire history on this planet is God’s process of contrastively showing that His plan for humanity is Right. More details next week.
Related podcast – How to Think Like God and Always Be Right
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