Proverbs: The Wisdom of Humility

Is there a difference between earned and pride? Are they synonymous?

‘Earning’ something refers to the method in which something was achieved, while pride is the sense of satisfaction in one’s achievements. No, they are not synonyms, but they’re related.

To take this a little further: The world says we must earn many things in life. We need to earn our high school diplomas; we need to earn our raises at work; or, we need to earn money to buy new cars. However, the Bible emphasizes the fact that all we have has been given to us. God formed humans out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). When we realize that we were made from dust, we can begin to comprehend that we really didn’t earn anything. All that we have is a gift from God. Therefore, pride is not good for us, but it is for God alone.

Listening to the sermon today I felt I understood until I got in the car and my husband said he could not understand why taking pride in your workmanship was bad. I said taking pride in your work and wanting to do a good job and do it right was not the pride he was talking about. He states that was exactly what was said.

Great question! In the sermon, I posed the question: “Shouldn’t we take pride in ourselves so that we give our best, do good things, and receive rewards in life?” My response to that question was: “Wisdom teaches that pride is not good for us.” Let me explain what I meant.

“Taking pride” is not good because it is not ours to take.

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…”

Paul is saying to the Colossians that we need to do our best in all things, but give the praise to God, not receive it ourselves. We’re not called to “take pride” but to pass it (pride, praise, thanks, glory) unto God.

However, on the other hand, Ecclesiastes 2:24 says: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”

This verse denotes that finding “enjoyment” or satisfaction in our work is a good thing. For example, if you plant tomatoes in your garden, you should find satisfaction in the result. Yet, you should also give God glory, realizing He is the one who provided the seeds, the sun, the dirt, the water, and the gifting you have to garden.

Ultimately, I think there’s a difference between “taking pride” in our work vs. finding satisfaction in our work to God’s glory. We’re called to give our best--because we’re serving the Lord in all that we do--and enjoy the outcome of our work (finding satisfaction in what God does in us). But we’re not called to “take pride” (in the sense of receiving praise or glory or feelings of superiority) in the work we do.

I realize the difference between the two may be very fuzzy at times, so the most important thing to remember is: Everything we do and say should be done to the glory of God.