Archive for the ‘Human Sin Nature’ Category

Self Admiration- Pride

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

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Do We Admire Ourselves?

Recently I received a Desiring God blog email from John Piper. John Piper is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. He gave a quote from C. S. Lewis which was written to a friend about one year after he was converted to Christ. As I read it, I was struck by its simplicity but very deep insight into the human heart. Actually it was Lewis’ own heart that he was looking at. Here is the quote.

During my afternoon “meditations,”—which I at least attempt quite regularly now—I have found out ludicrous and terrible things about my own character. Sitting by, watching the rising thoughts to break their necks as they pop up, one learns to know the sort of thoughts that do come.

And, will you believe it, one out of every three is the thought of self-admiration: when everything else fails, having had its neck broken, up comes the thought “what an admirable fellow I am to have broken their necks!” I catch myself posturing before the mirror, so to speak, all day long. I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly realize I am really thinking how frightfully clever I’m going to be and how he will admire me…

And then when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that. It is like fighting the hydra… There seems to be no end to it. Depth under depths of self-love and self-admiration. (quoted in The Narnian by Alan Jacobs, 133)

I must confess that his thoughts brought on a lot of self examination because I ran across a phrase I had never run across in all my conversations or readings. It was “self-admiration”. Then I ask how does this fit with the thing we call pride. God’s Word tells us that pride is a horrible sin. In fact it is the sin that is most destructive in our lives. It is a sin because out of the heart comes all manner of evil and the greatest evil is wanting to be God. I pondered and pondered “self-admiration”. Well lo and behold Lewis was talking about me. Therefore I must confess. I admire myself. Is that good or is that bad? How does self admiration relate to self esteem? Is self esteem good or bad? (When I use the terms good or bad I hope your thoughts are that good relates to life and bad relates to death or troubles of life. Read or reread a previous article on GOOD in my ramblings.)

In a previous writing I left this thought with you, “For now think about what makes you tick. What are the controlling beliefs in you head (mind)? Look where they take you.” Self admiration shows up in the way we think about self and the world of others and I’m in the center. And it is based on beliefs we carry around in our head about self. In Proverbs 23:7, God tells us this, “As he thinketh within his heart so is he . . .”. (KJV) In the New American Standard Bible it goes this way. “For as he has thought in his soul, so is he.”

Now you might say, “How do you admire yourself and how does that effect the way you behave?” Well here’s a few ways. I say or have said in my mind, (thoughts): “Wise, you sure did good there.” “I wonder what other folks will say about me. I bet they’ll have something good to say.” “I hope that what they think about me is good.” “I really made so and so feel good today.” or “I’m really glad he asked me. Maybe I can help him.” Examine the beginning of each thought. With whom does the thought begin? I, I, I.

What is my belief that I’ve developed over the years in my mind that produces self admiration? Or did I develop it? Maybe it was there at birth. Basically this belief is that I am important and want others to think or say good things about me. I believe that I need to be viewed as unique (special) in all human relationships and that somehow I’m set apart from others. (Who does this sound like? God maybe.) But you may say all people should have the belief that we are unique so don’t throw God into the discussion. We are unique in abilities and appearance, however we are all part of the human race and thus not unique. Now if I want to be God then where does that put me in relationship to all others? I no longer am part of the human race. After working (counseling and teaching) with people for many years I find all of us with that belief in our head. And a belief of specialness can take us into believing we have special privileges and that we deserve to be treated in special ways. Specialness is self-admiration.

Self-admiration is nothing more than pride rearing its ugly head. So to answer an earlier question, “Is it bad or good?” I must say that it is BAD. It sets me apart from others in that I “feel” superior. HOW HORRIBLE THAT I BELIEVE THIS.

So now you know, I am a prideful, sinful person. What must I do? Answer: Fall down on my knees in front of Almighty God and beg Him for forgiveness that I want to be Him. I am His creation and can never be anything else. I’m in the sinful human race and must look to a Just, Righteous, Loving, Merciful God in Christ Jesus for mercy and forgiveness so that I can live in harmony with my brothers and sisters in Lord Christ. I must mortify pride daily and moment by moment.

If I may ask, what is your belief about you? All beliefs start with self but in order to understand self we need to start with our Creator because He knows us better than we know ourselves. We can only know ourselves when we know Him. John Calvin, an early Reformer, said this:

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy -this pride is innate in all of us – unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly and impurity. (Institutes, pg. 37)

Thank you for allowing me to confess and share about me. I don’t know about you, but our Glorious God does know about you. He knows the way you think and what beliefs you’ve developed over the years in your mind. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (NASB) Ask Him.

In Him only is Life,

Dewey Wise

August 23, 2009