The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
- Obadiah 1:3
The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself—the Lord God Almighty declares:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and detest his fortresses;
I will deliver up the city
and everything in it.”
- Amos 6:8
On Pride: …all other sins are mere fleabites in comparison.
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
You have heard of humble pride, but what of prideful humility? On vocabulary.com, humble is defined as being modest without an excess of pride. Humble pride suggests that someone has a bit too much pride to be sufficiently humble. But what if someone is so overtly proud of their humility that they correct you in your phrasing of a simple joke, designed to poke fun at those who brag about being humble.
In one form of Justin Wilson’s introductions to his stand-up comedy act, he would say, “It is sure my pleasure for you to see me tonight!” Of course, everyone should know that the correct expression is “It is sure my pleasure to see you tonight.” The correct expression puts the honor upon those who are in attendance and not the performer. Justin Wilson reversed it as a joke. The juxtaposition of the terms placed the focus on him, instead of the audience.
Yet, I said that line in a comedy routine once and someone was in attendance who was always talking about being proud of this or proud of that and would always say that the thing that they were most proud of was their fully controlled grasp on humility. This someone stopped me before I could say anything else.
They bickered, “You said that wrong!”
I replied, “Yes, I know. It’s called a joke.”
They replied, “But that’s the wrong way to say it. You have offended me. Don’t ever say that again!”
I replied that I would not, but under my breath added “when you are around.” This person then provided a half hour lecture on why that joke was so offensive, none of which made any sense.
I have thought a great deal about that incident. The lecture finally makes sense if you add a measure of truth to it.
The Truth that this person did not say: “I have fooled people into thinking that I am humble. I am extremely proud of that. You are among those people who are within my sphere of influence. I have convinced people that I am so humble that my humility spills over into those who are among my sphere of influence. Thus, if you even joke about not being humble, even while pretending to be someone else, it shows that my profound humility may be a house of cards. People might question my humility, and I am too proud to give up that façade.”
Does that make sense? Isn’t there a bit of that in a lot of people? Maybe not to that extreme…
I have written about pride before, but this old story came to mind as I make final preparations for the comedy night on Thursday. I have chosen jokes that are acceptable for a church audience. The jokes should be void of anything that will cause offense, but as Ken Davis said in an interview, “We live in a humorless society.” He was referring to people who listen so that they can find offense instead of simply laughing at the joke. Of course, the Mark Twain quote comes into play if we try to analyze humor to find offense. “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. You learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.”
And yes, I am impersonating Justin Wilson with the “offensive” line included. I like living on the edge.
We need to laugh more. We need to show the Joy that God has freely given us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.