Pride vs. Prudence

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.”

Proverbs 8:12-14

Here it comes again… pride rearing its ugly head in my thoughts and speech, especially when I find myself disappointed by or in disagreement with the actions of others. But then here is Proverbs 8:12-14, reminding me that wisdom dwells with prudence – that is, using good judgment and caution before speaking or acting.

Hmm, this means that making snap judgments and blurting out my feelings of disappointment do not fall into the prudent category. It also means that assuming the worst in others is not prudent, even if they have done something to disappoint us.

The good news, though, is that if you struggle with this type of pride, you can change. It all begins with the idea of fearing the Lord. Throughout the Bible God warns us of his hatred of pride:

If you really believe God’s word, these verses should open your eyes to the dangers of pride.

On the flip side, we can be glad that we can attain true humility by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), setting our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2) and thinking on things that are worthy of God, Himself (Philippians 4:8). Take an inventory of your thoughts. Do they measure up to the standards described in these verses?

Beginning this process of renewing your mind to be more Christ-like is prudent in and of itself. Prudence carries with it the idea of self-awareness (Proverbs 14:8) and a willingness to listen to instruction (Proverbs 15:5). Sometimes our feelings can get in the way of prudence until we discern those things with which we struggle the most and learn how to combat the thoughts that fuel those struggles with the truth and wisdom of God’s word.

I recently read in Thom Rainer’s book I Am a Church Member a great statement on how we should react to people with whom we don’t agree: “And if someone did something that disappointed or frustrated us, that was God’s way of telling us to pray for that person.” (57) Instead of judging the person whose actions we did not like, we should simply pray for that person. Some of us might think that means we should pray for fire to fall on the person’s head, or something of that sort, but it really means we should pray for that person’s well-being. Having a mindset of prayer is prudence.

Whatever your struggle with pride happens to be, embrace prudence and find peace by exercising good judgment and seeking understanding in difficult situations before speaking or acting. Begin the process of “counting others more significant than yourselves” as Paul taught in Philippians 2:3 and allow prudence to overtake pride in your life.

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