What about when people praise something we have done – is accepting such praise giving place to pride? In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis pointed out that this kind of “pride” is really just the state of being happy that we have pleased someone. As such it is not really pride at all, even though we may call it that. In a similar manner, Lewis showed, being “proud” of our family, school, military unit or social club’s achievements is not usually elevating pride, but happiness with and respect for these groups in a kind of “team spirit.”
But what about the things we make or do personally – should we be “proud” of our own accomplishments? Does “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth” (Proverbs 27:2) mean we should not enjoy our achievements in life and be willing to talk about them under appropriate circumstances? The answer would seem to be, once again, that there is nothing wrong with such “pride” if it is not comparative or self-elevating (2 Corinthians 10:12, KJV and Holman). We can be justly pleased with what we have made or done when that is a reflection of the fact that we have worked hard to accomplish something worthwhile. This is not wrongful “pride” but legitimate satisfaction.
The apostle Paul tells us, in fact: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4). These words show us there is right pride that is not self-elevating. We should not forget the biblical example of creation – where God reports that He saw what He had made and that it was good. Obviously wrong pride doesn’t apply to God, but the principle seems clear that God takes pleasure and satisfaction in what He makes. It would seem that He has made us in His likeness in this, also.
At some point you have probably purchased something that had a small sticker or insert saying “Built with pride by [name] company.” This is a statement that the company has done something they feel is worthy of the people for whom it was made, and in that sense it is a mark of the producer’s respect for the customer as much as it is “pride” in their work. I’m sure the carpenter we know as Jesus of Nazareth did not build shoddy products and that he felt what he built was indeed “good.” If there had been stickers back then, I can imagine one saying “Built by Joseph and Son, Quality Carpentry.”
So we can be proud of our work done well. It’s something to rightly aim for. If we have done our best and the work is good, it is to the glory of God, not just ourselves, and striving for that is not “pride” but an integral part of the love of God (Colossians 3:23). It is no different from the pleasure that God doubtless takes in building something good in us. We should remember, too, that we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), where “workmanship” signifies something carefully made by a craftsman. The same God who said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) wants to say the same of us. God builds with pride – and we should, too.