Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
When Timothy Keller described pride as “cosmic plagiarism,” his words captured my attention. At the beginning of university classes involving writing, students are warned about the consequences of plagiarism. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, plagiarism means we are claiming another’s work as our own. If taking credit for ourselves from a human author is damaging, how much worse to take credit for the work of the Almighty!
When Hebrews 12 refers to the sin which entangles us and keeps us from running our race well, pride comes to mind. Why? Because pride is a form of unbelief. We believe our hard work (or failure) is the determining factor in how our lives turn out, not the wisdom, love and sovereignty of God. We forget that our nationality, physical appearance, intellectual ability, artistic and athletic skills, family of origin, health and hundreds (thousands) of other factors are bestowed by God.
What might cosmic plagiarism sound like in our own thoughts?
- I worked hard to get where I am today.
- I deserve this for the effort I have made.
- I tithe so the other 90% is my money
- We will make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4, Tower of Babel)
- I will ascend (Isaiah 13:14, Satan)
However, it also may demean by voicing this refrain
- My talents are inferior to yours. I am not enough.
Pride compares. Whether we deem ourselves superior in some way to another or repeatedly disparage our efforts or existence, we are still believing the outcome of our achievements (or lack of achievements) is a result of ourselves. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5
Grace means gift. God has given us each different gifts, not to make a name for ourselves but to His great Name known.
*I highly recommend Timothy Keller’s sermon, Nebuchadnezzar and Pride, https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/pride-the-case-of-nebuchadnezzar-6371/