I’m proud of my wife. I’m proud of my kids (most of the time!). I’m sometimes proud of this site, and of the people who have made it a good place to grow in faith and knowledge. I’m also proud of my country, and its forefathers who designed it to preserve freedom as well as it has (so far).
But then there’s this handy little verse I memorized as a kid: Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Do the above statements make me prideful in the sense that this verse is talking about?
Of course not.
One of the biggest problems with Stanton’s exegeses of scripture is that they refuse to think critically about the meaning of the words being used. Pride in the King James era meant vanity and haughtiness. You can see that clearly, even in the oft-quoted verse above. Pride goes before destruction, and a HAUGHTY spirit before a fall.
Now, if I walk around in haughtiness that my wife is better than yours, or that my kids are smarter than yours, or anything like that, maybe the “haughty” descriptor would fit. But 99% of the time, when we use the phrase “I’m proud of X,” we don’t mean that.
When you study the scripture—and I mean really study deeply—it’s good to bookmark a Greek or Hebrew dictionary (lexicon). That way you can see the original word that was translated into English (which won’t be very meaningful), but also the different meanings of that word, and locations they are used elsewhere in scripture. The three most popular lexicons are Strong’s, Thayer’s, and Vine’s.
- Strong’s. Strong’s is the most exhaustive concordance, but also has Greek (NT) and Hebrew (OT) word cross references.
- Thayer’s. Thayer’s is limited to Greek words, and is a bit more thorough than Vines.
- Vine’s. Vine’s covers Greek words only. I really like Vine’s over Thayer’s, because it’s written and formatted in a really understandable way. It’s super easy to find other verses that use the exact same Greek word, so you don’t have just rely on the Greek scholar’s definition. You can look at the context of other scriptures that use the same word, and perhaps figure out the correct definition based on that.
These things have real-life consequences. I know people from Stanton who have avoided telling their kids “I’m proud of you” because of this verse. Yet one of the most important things you can give your kids is your approval and praise while growing up. If all they hear is the criticism, with no affirmation of how proud you are of them (find something, even if you have to think about it awhile!), you will not have the relationship with them that you want. All because of an easily avoidable BAD exegesis of scripture.