When I was a little girl, we had a toy in our house that was, in its day, pretty high-tech. Made of plastic, it was large, roundish, and could be held in your lap. The face of this toy was a giant wheel divided into sections with an animal in each section. If you rotated the big arrow in the center to point to one of the animals and pulled the lever at the side, Old McDonald–or someone similar–would tell you what that animal sounded like.
“The cow goes mooooooo.”
“The chicken goes cluck, cluck, cluck.”
“The horse goes neigh.”
Man, I loved that toy.
If I remember correctly, I played with it until the voice track warped, but I have no regrets. In fact, I am very pleased to announce that I still remember what every mainstream farm animal sounds like.
If I heard one blindfolded, I could definitely tell you what it was.
Now if only there were a similar toy that tackled less mainstream animals, those abstract and ambiguous creatures that also live among us, but actually do harm and should be avoided. You know, beasts like anger, jealousy, and pride?
Yeah, personally, I think we could all benefit from a device like that, but Target doesn’t sell those, so let me tell you what the sneakiest of these three monsters sounds like.
“I’ve earned the right to behave badly.”
“None of that could possibly be my fault.”
“That’s just how I am. Get used to it.”
“What I have to give is more valuable. I am more valuable.”
“My way is the only right way.”
“I’ll apologize if they will.”
“My forgiveness is earned.”
“They have to come to me.”
“They haven’t earned the right to teach, challenge, or correct me.”
“I know there’s a rule/system, but they should make an exception for me.”
“My mistakes aren’t as big as other people’s mistakes.”
“My successes are more impactful than other people’s successes.”
“I deserve all the credit for my achievements.”
“My comfort or worldly success proves God is pleased with me.”
“God wants me to win.”
“They deserve their misfortune. I deserve my success.”
“Their work is less valuable than mine.”
“My opinion carries more weight than theirs.”
“It’s okay for me to dismiss/blame/stereotype people, but it’s not okay for people to dismiss/blame/stereotype me.”
“I’m entitled to nickname/label that person or group of people because I fully understand every nuance of the human experience.”
“If you live up to my expectations, you are a good person. If you don’t, you’re not.”
“My child’s success is my success.”
“Anyone who does not follow my advice is making a mistake.”
“They have to earn my love/respect.”
As you keep an eye for this menace, friends, remember that pride is easier to detect in others than it is in ourselves, and it doesn’t always reveal itself in spoken words. Pride sometimes hides in posture, tone, and attitude as it slowly destroys people and relationships from the inside, so make sure you make a clean sweep of your own heart before you start casting your gaze about.
Pride may seem harmless enough because it’s everywhere and the afflicted are technically functioning, but know this: God is not a fan and those who don’t let Him weed pride out are headed for some serious heartache (Matthew 23:12; Proverbs 16:18).