By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.
I think we are probably all very familiar with the fact that pride makes trouble. It is played out all the time around us, and it is clear that pride can be truly annoying. Think of someone coming alongside you in the grocery store to tell you something you are doing wrong with your child. Think of a friend talking at length about her great figure. Think of someone referring constantly to how refreshing their eleven trips to Tahiti have been for them. Think of any time someone dogmatically says something that you know to be wrong but won’t listen when you tastefully correct them. Think of all the stuck up “church ladies” you have ever known who are too proud to admit to having ever sinned.
Now think of all the situations where pride is not direct. When it was a disinterested look that communicated superiority, or an eye roll when you said something. Maybe it was someone not noticing you at all – looking past you, making trouble for you, or not inviting you to something.
It is easy for us to see how pride in all these situations causes strife. Because one rude comment makes you bristle, and after a short narrative in your head about how ridiculous that was that he thought that of you, you see your chance to make a slighting remark back, whilst you hoist the garbage bag by yourself. And the strife is off to a great start.
The thing that I want to point out in this today is the old saying it takes two to tango. The reality is that only pride is offended by pride in others. When someone doesn’t think highly of you – or suddenly imposes themselves on you – this is only a cause of strife if you are feeling that you were, in fact, more important.
Pride is not a strike anywhere match. When it rubs up against joy, gratitude, laughter, kindness, humility, and forgiveness, it will do nothing but wear itself out. The pride of others, if it is actually a problem, is a problem best handled with our own humility. Often times we don’t want to handle it – we don’t want to actually help the person who is being prideful. We want to stamp it out. We want to embarrass them, expose them for the idiot we think they are.
Many of us spend our time making ourselves into that scratchy patch on a matchbook. If anyone so much as alludes to something that I perceive to be a topic upon which she thinks she is better than me – explosion. If my husband so much as accidentally infers that his work is more stressful than mine – a bonfire. If my children do not revere the work that I have done with the mopping today – if they are so arrogant as to just think that what they are doing is more important than what I am doing – then they will spend quite a lot of time getting spiritual cigarette burns.
Wisdom is the opposite of pride, it is the opposite of explosive. It is not defensive against the pride of others. It is not wounded when someone looks self important. It does not need to hash out who knows more about cloth diapers, curriculums, nutrition, or how to make a beautiful home out of cast off plastic bottles. It is not competitive. Wisdom is the antidote to strife, because it is the antidote to pride.
If you find yourself frequently wound up about other people, you need to deal with pride. People mess up. People are rude. People are more fit than you. That is life. Wisdom ends the strife of pride before it begins, because wisdom is a big splash of water in the face of pride. But it is in the face of your own pride that is ready to be offended, ready to spark. Mortify the pride that takes offense at pride, and you will learn wisdom.