Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Proverbs 3:5-7, Calligraphic work by Neriah Israel
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
— Proverbs 3:5-7
Perhaps the biggest folly we commit is the folly of self-praise. In today's western culture we are encouraged to love ourselves, take care of our own needs and engage in self-encouragement. This is all to the good, but it often seems to go out of control and the self-love we nurture becomes narcissism and entitlement.1 We begin to take ourselves too seriously, vaunting each small achievement, and expecting others to praise us, and endorse this self-image. It starts in school of course, for children as young as four—if it hadn't already began in the home. We want our children to grow up confident but this then becomes too black and white: if they are not brimming with self-confidence bordering on arrogance there's something wrong with them; they must be anxious, worried, even depressed and will probably be under-achievers. We've lost nuance in the way we educate children. When we value self-confidence too highly we create a culture where psychopaths can thrive. The more we are focused on ourselves, on fulfilling our own needs to excess, the less we can focus on the needs of others. We become a nation apart, each dwelling in his or her own ego. Looking outside of ourselves towards a greater purpose, be that God, community or the natural world, is an act more likely to create a life of balance, and a more humane society. This is what is meant by Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
1 See also The Destructive Force of Self-Love, 03/06/2022