The First Gate — The Gate of Pride

Originally posted at MamaDomain.

Pride is not a quality that we should desire to have within us. Man was not created to house pride–and it is the forgetting that God is our Creator and we are but His Creation. When we forget our proper place and desire to elevate ourselves and our status compared to God or His other creations then we have sinned the realm of pride.

And yet pride itself is not always bad–we are to have pride in doing what is right and holy according to God’s Word. We are to have pride in presenting ourselves as faithful followers of the Almighty. We are to take pride in presenting ourselves as clean, proper, honest, righteous people. And we should never subjugate ourselves to those who are not righteous and would do evil–may our actions never suggest that theirs are acceptable to us! We can keep ourselves set apart by not engaging in unrighteousness and not pretending we are okay with it. It is enough to hold a boundary one can easily assume by our status of followers of Messiah and Children of God.

Negative pride is our enemy because it causes us to not view others as more important than ourselves–it leads us to forget that we have been put here to serve others; it is about seeking recognition for what we do; it is about drawing undue attention to ourselves and our actions. When we dress like the heathen in order to gain the positive attention of the heathen we have acted with pride. When we do righteousness for the sake of being seen doing righteousness we have also acted in pride.

If we do all that we do for the sake of the Creator then we are doing right. If we are seen doing these things and praised then we have not acted pridefully and have nothing to apologize for. Our response to that praise may further reveal pride–including whether we correct inaccurate praise, whether we give credit to others where credit is due, and whether we acknowledge when accusations of unrighteousness being in us or our actions are true.

Do what is right for the sake of God alone and let Him do with that what He chooses.

A beautiful parable about pride from one sage speaks of, “A certain king was sitting on his throne and before him were placed three chairs, one higher than the other, for seating by rank. Three nobles came before him and seated themselves one higher than the other, whereupon the king said to them: ‘How did you dare seat yourselves thus without my permission?’ The highest one answered: ‘My family’s great pedigree sat me above my fellows.’ The second answered: ‘I went above the one below me because of my great wisdom.’ The third answered: ‘The lowliness of my soul and the constriction of my heart sat me beneath them’ — whereupon the king raised him up and exalted him above the others.” In this respect it is written (Mishlei 25:7): “For it is bettter that it be said to you: ‘come up here,’ than that you be lowered before the Gracious One.” (pp 51,53)

Relevance to Parenting:

Why do you do what you do as a parent? Is it to do what is right for the sake of your children (temporally and eternally)? Or is it so that everyone watching you will see that you are a “good” parent who does all the “right” things? Do you demand first time obedience to make sure your children know you are higher than them in importance? Or are you willing to sacrifice your position and status in order to model for them what it means to lay down your life out of love?

What motivates you? I can honestly admit that my worst parenting moments have been when I forget that discipline is about instilling values and character into my children through discipleship and focus instead of those who are watching. I don’t like to be embarrassed and my face turns red when someone raises a brow that a small child has argued with me or defied me in action or deed. Woe is me that I am so easily swayed in my reaction that some stranger can become a more important motivator for my actions than God’s Word and my responsibilities to my children! Woe is me that I am so flawed as to even care what others think when I am doing the ministry work that God has called me to!

So much that passes for “Biblical” parenting advice is nothing but a manual for how to live as a prideful Christian. Methods and formulas that promise our children and our families will “look good” are missing the entire point of what it means to be a family. I do not parent to “look good”, or to “get people saved” or so that “non-Christians will want to become Christians”. Those responses would be purely for feeding the ego! I parent because God entrusted the souls and lives of His creation to me (times 5!) and I am called to minister to them, model righteousness for them, and love them. I am the first living picture of God they have in this world and how well I walk that out is vital for their ability to understand and desire to walk that out themselves. As Rabbi Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Messiah.”

Messiah was not harsh with his disciples. He was patient, and explained over and over to them, and modeled for them what it means to be a Tzaddikim. He interpreted Torah correctly for them and taught them with submissive love what it means to be a lover and liver of Torah! He asked them to show their love for Him by obeying His commandments. (John 14:15) He taught us that the Two Greatest Commands, on which hang all Torah and the Prophets, are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. There can be no negative pride functioning in the fulfillment of that command.

May I always remember that my children are my disciples. May I desire always that they imitate me only as I am imitating Messiah! May I remember to love God first and foremost and love my neighbor as myself–and may I never forget that my children are my closest neighbors. May I always choose to seat myself in the lower seat than my children because I understand they are my teachers, and they have lived less years and had less opportunity to sin than me. May I lay down my life for them, rather than demand, pridefully, that they lay down theirs for my ease and convenience. May I never parent for personal gain, or with thought to what the neighbors will think. May I only hold concern for what God sees in me as revealed in every action towards my children, and what my actions towards my children reveal about God to anyone who might be watching. More of Him and less of me.