Self-Esteem Propaganda

There are (at least) two ways to feel superior to other people: know that you know more/better than others, or, not actually know better but be self-satisfied in your imagined higher estate. In other words, pride comes from a certain kind of knowledge, and pride comes from a certain kind of ignorance.

God says that knowledge puffs up. The wise man measures his wisdom and seeks to gain more of it, but his sin tempts him to measure against the attainments of others. Rather than compare our knowledge to God’s, and give thanks for His grace that brought us to knowledge, we sit in judgment on our brothers.

Ignorance is not better, and it certainly does not guarantee of humility. An ignorant man who has enough knowledge to know he is ignorant is one thing, but a fully ignorant man is ignorant of his own state. All he needs is a good imagination and to drink at the fount of self-esteem propaganda all around him.

In my observation, men are more likely to fall into the latter category, women into the first, they even have the moniker: “Church Ladies.” (Preachers are a third category of unhelpful.) Men should stop acting like know-it-alls, and women should stop believing that they are better because they talk demurely about their righteousness. It is not always those who argue loudly that have a pride problem, it can also be those who whisper, taking delight in someone else’s failure.

This is another reason why worship, informed and driven by the Word, is so important. Worship in ignorance does not exalt God, and worship in true knowledge of God does not exalt us. We are humbled before Him and learn how to treat others just as He treats us.

Putting Wounded Egos Out of Their Misery

Pride is bad. What’s more, pride is sickeningly ugly. It is a frightful thing to find in the mirror and a hideous thing to see in someone else. It introduces itself in inopportune situations. It is no respecter of persons. It is enough to damn a man to everlasting wrath.

Pride also takes assorted shapes and sizes though some displays of pride are more familiar and others are often unexplored. The following quotes are from What Jesus Demands from the World and they expose two standard sorts of self-admiration with surgical accuracy.

Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.” …The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire is not really for others to see them as helpless but as heroes. The need that self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.

And then just a little down the page,

A person can seem to feel unworthy by constantly depreciating himself in public, but all the while feel angry that others do not recognize this as a virtue. (p.126)

I have been both of those proud people and battle against them today by the Spirit and truth. I also know both types of proud people and struggle for them by prayer, preaching, and patience. But let us not be proud. If we boast, let it be in the Lord. If we pity, let it be those kept from salvation by their pride. If we are angry, let it be toward the flesh that blinds us to how unworthy we really are. And if our ego is wounded, let us put it out of its misery by putting it to death.