Confidence in Comparing

One of the worst kinds of pride is family pride. It is right for a family to feel good about the achievements of its members and to be thankful for its success. But when that feeling of self worth crosses over into vanity and arrogance, true character and spirituality fade.

We used to say that people think they have to keep up with the Joneses. Now people are not satisfied with keeping up with them. They have to outdo them. They think they must have a nicer house, more expensive clothes, and newer vehicles. Yet they are not satisfied when they get these things (Solomon said things are very unsatisfying—Ecc. 2:1-11; 4:8; 5:10). Even worse, they don’t even know why they bury themselves in debt and kill themselves working and worrying to have more than others have. But is that unusual? A man seldom sees his own pride.

These same people see their children and grandchildren as an object of selfish vanity and pride. Now children do need encouragement. They need to be built up, not torn down. Insecurities in adults can sometimes be traced back to overly critical and negative things their parents said to them when they were children. It is heartbreaking to hear a parent belittle a tender little child. Mothers and fathers should encourage children to do the best they can (Prov. 22:29; Ecc. 9:10). But it is wrong for parents to raise their children to think they are better than other children. It is foolish to give them the idea that they are above others. Parents who train their children to base their feeling of self worth on being smarter, being a better athlete, or making more money than others are setting them up for a world of disappointment. Basing confidence on these things actually leads to more insecurity and emptiness than can be imagined. Then there are parents who mock others in front of their children. These children grow up sneering at people instead of respecting them, laughing at the misfortunes of others instead of helping them, and resenting the success of others instead of being glad for them.

There is perhaps no other area where this family pride is more disgusting and damaging than in spiritual matters. Parents who unjustly criticize other members of the church in front of their children and who even laugh at the mistakes of other Christians in front of their children are doing a foolish thing. The children develop a self-righteous attitude. They begin to add condescending remarks about other members of the church when a family conversation drifts into something that has happened in the congregation. They begin to see themselves as judges and critics of serious matters they don’t understand. But the prideful attitude of their parents caused this. Those same children need correction, but the parents are too fixed on looking down on all those weak Christians to see the faults in their own children. They can see other parents who are blind to their children’s faults, but they cannot see the faults of their own.

Remember II Corinthians 10:12.

-Kerry Duke

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