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Know Thy Selfie

Pride and Vanity did him in. From the pinnacle to the abyss.

The story of Lucifer’s fall is revealed in two key Old Testament chapters (Ezekiel 28 & Isaiah 14). The name Lucifer is translated from the Hebrew word “helel”, which means brightness ( He was described as resplendent and perfect in beauty! Top of the table.

Among other things, it was also said of him: “You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you.” And, “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”

Within its context in Scripture, this passage mentions an earthly king (of Tyre), but it seems obvious that Lucifer was the one behind this evil earthly king. And his end is predicted and predictable: fallen and soon to be finished. This is inevitable because of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His complete work on the Cross.

So, what’s that got to do with us?


“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”


Plenty, I would say. Same Lucifer lies behind the trickery, trials and temptations that often beset us in our sojourn on earth. And we well know the English proverb: pride goes before a fall.

Daily we are faced with things both prideful and vain. These are the days of selfie addictions. How much of what we sent through Facebook and other social media are unsubtle pride and vainglory? Time to update the ancient Greek “know thyself” to today’s “know thy selfie”.

But for argument’s sake, how much of a difference is there between pride and vanity? Aren’t they closer than cousins, and used almost interchangeably?

Well, it appears that a person may be proud without being vain. Support comes from Jane Austen, 18th century English novelist, who stated, “Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

When one is so sure and full of oneself, the opinions of others do not count. Pride can exclude vanity simply by being dismissive, where it matters little what others think.

An English academic philosopher Simon Blackburn, in an article, expanded on this fine distinction: “But where does vanity fit in? The proud person might take pleasure in having done something that deserves to be admired, but to the vain person the admiration itself becomes the goal. Vanity is greedy for the admiration of others, regardless of whether the admiration is deserved: the vain person enjoys being flattered, even if the flattery is hollow.” He elaborated: “Yet there is such a thing as proper pride: the pleasure one might legitimately take in having done something good, or having succeeded in some difficult enterprise, or in having at least some of the qualities that one admires and respects in other people.”

He’s entitled to his opinion, of course.

Perhaps it would be better, in our context, to use a different word than “pride” here. Something like “deserved achievement” or “self-esteem”? Then, pride remains a description of something negative, unacceptable or not tolerated. In short, a sin by any name is still a sin.

It may be a stretch but stay with me on this: overcoming vanity. Nancy Guthrie, in “The One Year Book of Hope” recalled how Larry King on TV interviewed Billy Graham in the days following the announcement of the latter’s Parkinson’s disease. “You pray not to be in pain, don’t you?” King asked.

“Not at all,” Graham responded. “I pray for God’s will.” He explained that he was more than willing to suffer if God had another lesson for him to learn. Graham wanted to learn the lessons God had for him, even if pain was involved. The purging of self.

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Pet 4:1-2)

Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of Impact.

The article 'Know Thy Selfie' is featured in the latest issue of IMPACT (Dec/Jan 2019).


IS EVERYTHING MEANINGLESS? ... Vanity, vanity, really?

SHALLOWNESS ... Nurturing the parts that no-one sees

CONFESSIONS OF A SECONDARY SCHOOL FATTY ... Thinking beyond aesthetics

BECOMING GOD'S HOLY PEOPLE ... Rediscovering the book of Leviticus

TEACH US TO COUNT ... Framing our days with the eternity of God!

CELEBRATION OF HOPE ... Singapore's Bicentennial

VANITY, THY NAME IS SOCIAL MEDIA ... But to each his own?


... Interview with Stephen Lam


... A culture shift

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