I Am Not Proud To Be An American

Today is July 4, 2013 – American Independence Day. And I say Happy Independence Day, but I am not proud to be an American.

I did not choose to be born in America. In fact, I had no choice in the matter. Therefore, I find is hard to raise the flag of pride for something I had no hand in. However, I understand Americans are a proud people. We united around pride after the attacks on 9/11 for a time – a short time. The power of pride to unite Americans was short-lived.

The sword of pride cuts off others as less valuable and insignificant. Pride is a buffet for the glutton. When pride becomes the driving force, self-interest becomes the goal regardless of morality and purpose.

Jesus listed pride as an evil that defiles a person that comes from within (Mk 7:21-23). Yet, today pride has become a virtue to celebrate rather than an evil to cast off. Will Willimon says it well in his chapter on pride in Sinning Like A Christian:

“It is not an overstatement to saw that Pride has moved from being the chief of the Seven [Deadly Sins], the root of much evil, to being the root of all virtue, a positive good to be lovingly practiced and cultivated. Pride has been rehabilitated from being a vice to be avoided and has become a great virtue to be cultivated – Black Pride, Gay Pride, Southern Pride, and on and on.” (20)

When it comes to America, I think pride is the wrong motivator for Americans. Instead, Americans ought to be thankful motivated by gratitude. Pride grows self-focus, self-congratulation, and self-deserving attitudes. Thankfulness grows from grace and a motivation that says – there’s more to be done and I’m grateful I get to do it.

Despite the evils our government has done in the past, I do not wish I were born in any other place in the world. Despite our government’s recent abuses from drones, to the IRS, NSA, CIA et al. I am grateful to have been born in the United States of America.

We Americans have a lot of work to do, especially in our government, and we get to do it. That is, if we choose to participate. Pride seeks what it can expect from this country while gratitude seeks what it can give. What do you seek?

I love America, but only by the grace of God was I born here. So, while the song goes, “I’m proud to be an American.” I will sing, “I’m thankful to be an American.”

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SethDunn July 4, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I only believe in God because I was born in Chattanooga, I have been told. If I was born in Riyadh I would believe in Allah someone has said.
I wonder if the person who told me that was Proud to be an American.

2 Mike Devaney July 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Amen. Thankful for everything we have here but not proud because we ultimately had no say.

3 nvahalik July 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

SethDunn If they were then they probably should read this blog more often.

4 Even If July 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

Mark, My last 2 posts have been on pride with a 3rd coming – – I used this quote in the last post and thought you might like it: ◾Of all the marvelous works of God, perhaps the one angels view with the most supreme astonishment, is a proud man.
Charles Caleb Colton

5 Geno July 5, 2013 at 10:12 am

I am grateful and humbled to be someone who was drawn to the Lord… saved from a miserable sinful existence… crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended in HIM… and translated out of this world’s kingdom into God’s.
Now, by His grace, I will enter the fullness of the reality of all He’s done.

6 Ken Temple July 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

agreed; we should be thankful to be an American and not proud.  
What does it mean to say our children “I am proud of you” ?  

C. S. Lewis’ chapter on pride was always excellent to me, called “the Great Sin” in Mere Christianity.

Have you read that book that you linked to, on the Seven Deadly Sins?  If you have, what do you think?   It looks interesting.  
 Do you recommend that book?

7 Mark Lamprecht July 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

Ken Temple I thought about that usage of pride. Some translations of Scripture uses pride in a way to boast in the Lord or as a matter of rejoicing. Connotations may change for the word pride too. In as much as we rejoice in our child’s achievements as they are done to the Lord (however imperfectly) we might be proud of them. We also, IMO, have the danger of instilling self-pride in them based on their achievements. I would say a lot of how the child receives and processes that praise is based on how that child was discipled in the Lord.
I recently started reading Willimon’s book. It looks pretty good. It was one of my $1.50 Goodwill finds. 🙂

8 David Mayfield October 8, 2014 at 5:01 am



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