This past Independence Day, I had the pleasure to once again attempt to honor Lee Greenwood, God and Country. I sang one of my favorite songs, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” while accompanied by an orchestra and a dozen other singers before the Fourth of July fireworks burst in the sky above our community.
It made it three years in a row that our small church had performed in a large local shopping center to a crowd of several hundred people. As a nation, we are a proud bunch. And that’s the direction I now feel led to take this discussion: our individual pride here in America.
In the second stanza of the song, we’ve all heard these words proclaimed for years — “Well there’s pride in every American heart and it’s time we stand and say … that I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free … And I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me …”
That “pride in every American heart” carries over into all aspects of our individual and corporate lives.
If we’re not careful I believe that pride can be to our detriment as we navigate through life here in America, and I suspect this phenomena exists in other countries as well. All you have to do is tune into a few minutes of World Cup action to watch thousands of fans demonstrate national pride for their country of origin.
Let me bring us back to the good old U.S.A. since that’s what I know best, having spent most of my years on its soil. On a side note, I’m also a proud Texan even though I’ve spent most of my life in California!
God’s word speaks about pride and its impact on those who are caught in its powerful grip.
In Proverbs 16:18-19, we’re counseled “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”
The idea of a lowly spirit (humility) resonates with me in this fourth quarter of my life.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking pride in our accomplishments, but we need to be careful to not let it go to our head. After all, we can only accomplish what God allows us to complete.
In Ephesians 2:9-10, Paul exhorts “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
We need to understand the Source of all we accomplish in life.
Every day we run across fellow followers of Christ who are facing challenges in this world. In Galatians 6:2-5, we’re instructed, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else. For each should carry his own load.”
Did you get that? The type of pride that needs to be found in the Christian life must come from building up the Body of Christ. That way our Heavenly Father will be proud of us — His obedient children.
You may be proud of your accomplishments in your business, family and even your spiritual endeavors, but we must be very careful to not fall once we rest on our laurels. We’d be wise to not bask in our past accomplishments. We need to give the glory to God where it truly belongs.
In James 4:10, we’re admonished to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Find your strength and your solace in your Heavenly Father and you can experience fulfillment that will make your Father truly proud!
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at email@example.com for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.