I’ve been pretty clear that the Bible is pretty clear that God hates pride in humanity. Detests it, in fact. What is meant by pride is worth consideration, though. God doesn’t mind a parent being proud of their child in the school play, or bringing home an A. We can be proud of a hard day’s work, coming home worn out and satisfied at a job well-done. The kind of pride God hates is pride that is not earned or deserved. The kind of pride that makes a person think they are “good enough” to get to heaven without Christ, or pride in our ability to breathe air, (undeserved). Genetic pride in one’s ancestry easily falls into this category.
Let’s talk about race – being proud of your ancestors just because they are your ancestors is a form of detestable pride. There is no credit to you for who they were born to, or in what part of the world they were born, and you know what? There’s no credit to them for that either. If I say I am proud that I was born Black, the question that should logically follow is “why?” Did I do something special to make that happen? Do I believe Black people throughout history somehow above and beyond those with other skin colors? (If you think so, this blog post needs your desperate attention). Are I saying I am proud of my heritage or culture? Okay, what specifically about it gives me pride of achievement or ownership over other heritages and cultures?
Remember What You Are
You are dirt. Your grandfather is dirt. Your grandmother is dirt. God’s word is filled with such frank language because God knew full well how strong the sense of pride could be, causing us to lift ourselves higher than we ought and forget our places. Everyone has “heroes” in their genealogy – great men and women who did fantastic things. You can be proud of those particular individuals or, more specifically, proud of the specific great things you know they did, but fragments of their DNA in your blood imputes nothing to you whatsoever. Now the same is true in the reverse: everyone has “villains” in their genealogy as well – men and women who did absolutely deplorable things. Most of us are quick to denounce those things or individuals and refuse to take any blame for it. This is right and proper, because just as the great things done by George Washington or Beethoven are not ours to claim as individuals today, neither are the heinous acts by the most vile slaveowner or Pol Pot.
“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith:” ~I Timothy 1:4
Ancestral worship is an ancient and pagan practice going back long before the time of Christ, and the scripture writers knew well that even the Jews could get swept up in the worship over the past, such as with Gideon’s ephod. The belief that a person is due any measure of respect, or deference (on one hand), scorn, or derision (on the other), based on who their ancestors are is a step along this pagan road. The faithful know (or should) that every ancestor was unrighteous, wicked and filthy before God’s eyes until (and unless) they received salvation. Nothing to boast in, except the cross!
If any should glory in the past, it should be in how their great, great grandfather got saved and passed that knowledge onto their great grandfather who then preached the Gospel to their great grandmother who taught it to my grandmother…and so on and so forth. All else is dross, vanity, and taking credit in the DNA you played absolutely no part in assembling and which has no value greater than that of your neighbor’s. Remember that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Resist taking any pride in the accident of your DNA, rather thank God for any positive physical or mental features you enjoy. And thank Him for the ones you don’t!