“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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