We know based on scripture that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 (NKJV).
If this wasn’t enough incentive not to be proud, and instead live humbly with God, then certainly knowing pride comes before falls also serves to encourage us to refrain.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:8 (NKJV).
When we are confident in what we do, or in what we say, it can sometimes be confused with arrogance. The details of the circumstance, nature of our relationship with those around us, and our true heart’s intentions are all delicate parts to be weighed in determining the answer. There are times where, in the presence of people we trust, we allow ourselves to get closer to that line that crosses over to pride. I think it’s best when we reach a place where we act the same in all cases. Whether we’re in front of friends/family we’ve known for ages or we’d like to make a good impression on someone we don’t know.
As much as we might seek this goal, there’s a good chance there are still subtle differences in our behavior. In my experience, I personally find myself being more reserved around people I barely know, and letting loose a little more with people who already know me. People’s perceptions of what we do, when we don’t know them, are often on the forefront of our minds initially. If we know people understand we’re rooted in our viewpoints and know our standing, there’s more leeway offered to us when we make mistakes. I wouldn’t recommend allowing this to get out of hand, but hypothetically speaking, it remains clear that someone who barely knows us would consider our early remarks more intently to form a first impression of us. I don’t advocate overthinking what people think, but certainly, it’s merely a human trait to desire to make a good first impression on almost anyone we don’t know well. It makes the process easier for you when you are essentially 99.9% you whether the person is your best friend or the President of the United States. On that note, don’t allow yourself to be addicted to man’s approval. If we allow someone’s praises or criticisms to build us up or tear us down, we’ve placed a disproportionate amount of influence on that person.
Confidence can be an asset as we interact with business partners or date someone of the opposite sex. There’s something special to be said about someone who knows what they want and is unashamedly passionate about their life/hobbies. That kind of energy can be contagious and encouraging to other people around you. Likewise, if we’ve had a bad day, or if we become people who are most cynical, it’s easy to allow ourselves to misrepresent who we truly are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good not to be naive, and it’s probably a very bad idea to only exemplify sheer optimism about everything. We have to balance out our positivism and confidence with a healthy dose of reality. Do I think I am successful and will succeed in most of my priorities in life? Yes. Does that mean I should be confident about a proposition for me to climb Mt. Everest? No.
For someone else climbing Mt. Everest for the tenth time, it might not even seem as daunting anymore, but as far as I am concerned I can live a very happy life without doing so. It’s simply being realistic and balancing out what I truly want to do. I want to invest my time in other areas and passions. If climbing mountains or hiking were my hobbies instead of interests like poker, books, biking, or writing – then I should probably try to at least develop my potential towards that possibility. If I am going to do something, I might as well consider how to advance my skill set in that direction. It doesn’t necessarily mean every hiking enthusiast should plan their trip to Everest tomorrow, but it makes sense logically to wonder if they’ve got what it takes to consider it one day.
The flip side of pride is humility, but unlike pride, humility can co-exist happily with confidence. I think this could be a good “self-check” kind of tool to gauge whether one is avoiding pride and arrogance. I like a quote by C.S. Lewis where he said:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Behind the scenes of your mind, or even more easily noticed in your actions and demeanor, you can exude confidence while living in humility. I have a high view of myself in many ways. For instance, I know I was made in the image of God and I was called to be among His elect. If God loves me that much, I think it’s reasonable to love myself. I typically don’t allow that self-love to distract me from my mission with God. That is the mission to share God’s love with other people, and of course to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I don’t think God wants us to cut back on having confidence, optimism, or being realistic. Likewise, I do think He would like us to avoid being cynical or overly sarcastic (beyond occasional jokes). This kind of behavior can negatively impact our mindset since we wouldn’t be focusing on things that are excellent, noteworthy, lovely, noble, and praiseworthy. Excessive sarcasm can also be misused to annoy our friends and flirts with cynicism quite often. I personally want to make sure that these behaviors aren’t my default, and ultimately remain the exception rather than the rule.
May God bless you with the discernment, wisdom, and strength to grow in both confidence and humility. Likewise, that you would successfully defeat pride and arrogance when they crop up in your life. There’s no need to allow these negative perspectives to cause us hardship with those we love or the strangers we ought to love.
Thanks for reading, take care!
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