She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – Proverbs 31:25
Dignity and pride are two words that are used so interchangeably in our culture that I felt it was important for me to learn the difference, especially after reading the above scripture. Obviously the word dignity, describing here the wife whose price is “far above rubies”, stands in stark contrast to any scripture we can find about pride. Take for instance the most well-known: Pride goes before destruction,and haughtiness before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18 or this one Psalm 101:5 – I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride.
There can be no doubt that the two words, dignity and pride, are opposites. So, I set out to discover what the defining line is between the two, and this is what I found. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. – 1 John 2:16 Wow, I had to take a minute, maybe you do, too. Let’s read that last part again. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. Pride is not from the Father. There is the key.
Dignity is defined as a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control. Do seriousness and self-control come from the Father? Let’s look into the Bible for our answers, as we always should. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23 A resounding YES for self-control! It is a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in our lives, when we submit to Him! And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. – Titus 2:7 The teaching that guides and rules our lives is serious!
Of course, my next step is to apply what I’ve learned to my life of chronic illness and disability. What does pride in the midst of my suffering do for me? It encourages me to depend on self, it leads me to further pain as I refuse to accept my limitations, and it keeps me from asking for help, even from my Heavenly Father! None of those things are good for me or for those around me. Pride can also cause me to react to others as if I have a “chip on my shoulder”. I can be led by anger and have a hard time with relationships as I expect to be kicked at by others. Hmmm, so far the experiences I have had with pride are validating what the scripture revealed about it… it is NOT from the Father.
Now let’s look at dignity. Dignity will keep me from jumping to wrong conclusions, embarrassing myself and others with harsh reactions. It will keep me patient during the hard times in my illness. It will remind me where my strength comes from, and will prove to others that there is something different inside of me, a difference brought by the Holy Spirit and a relationship with Christ. Again, findings completely in sync with the scripture’s claims.
Today I challenge you, along with myself, to clothe yourself in dignity and shun pride. Invite the Spirit to settle in and aid you. I know I will be doing the same!
Lord, bring us closer to You through this study. Help us to acknowledge the pain that pride brings to our lives, and to turn instead to dignity, which comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen…
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