The Pride Tract
What comes after pride? Some time ago, in partnership with Marv Plementosh of One Million Tracts, I wrote a gospel tract simply titled: “Pride.” Marv designed the front of the tract. The text on the front (“What comes after pride?”) is a rhetorical question based on Proverbs 16:18, which reads: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The text on the back of the tract reads as follows:
The world defines “pride” as: “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” Yet the Word of God says a person’s pride is followed by disgrace (Prov. 11:2); pride is arrogance (Prov. 21:24); pride will bring a person low (Prov. 29:23). The Word of God says pride is something evil that comes from a person’s heart (Mark 7:21-23), and that God is opposed to prideful people (James 4:6). God sees pride the same way He sees so many other behaviors—as sinful (2 Tim. 3:1-4). God sees pride as evil because it is contrary to who He is. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, humbled Himself to take on human flesh and then humbled Himself even further when He sacrificed His life in the most humiliating way—death on a cross. What awaits prideful people? What comes after pride? Destruction (Prov. 16:18)—God’s judgment of sin, the punishment for which is eternity in hell. Your only hope is to turn from your sinful pride, turn toward God and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man, yet without sin, voluntarily shed his innocent blood and died on the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God. Three days later, He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. Yes, God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Humble yourself. Repent and believe the gospel, today.
More than 50,000 of this particular tract has been ordered through One Million Tracts.
Beaverton Grace Bible Church
Beaverton Grace Bible Church (Beaverton, OR) is one of our supporting churches. I try to make more than one trip to BGBC each year. Some of my closest friends in the world, which include Pastor Chuck O’Neal, call BGBC home.
Pastor Chuck is one of those pastors who leads from the front. He not only teaches and encourages the BGBC family to take to the streets to communicate the gospel to lost people; He leads them in the effort. Whether outside an abortuary, on a street corner with signs, at the Saturday Market in downtown Portland, on university campuses, or at special community events, Pastor Chuck can be found heralding the gospel in the open-air, engaging people in gospel conversations, and distributing gospel tracts. His church family loves him and follows him onto the spiritual fields of battle–not to fight with people, but to fight for the souls of people.
Beaverton Grace and the Pride Tract
I’m honored and blessed that Pastor Chuck uses gospel tracts I’ve written (along with other titles) in his church’s evangelism efforts. One of the tracts the church uses is the “Pride” tract. By request, Pastor Chuck has Marv place BGBC’s website on the back of the tract so that recipients of the tract can contact the church if they have questions about what they read or would like more information about the church.
One day recently, someone from BGBC placed some “Pride” tracts on parked cars in a Target parking lot. One woman was not at all pleased to receive the tract and emailed the church to express her feelings.
The email was addressed to: “To Whom It May Concern.” Since I wrote the gospel tract, and since it was the message written on the tract that upset this particular recipient, Pastor Chuck forwarded the email to me and asked if I would like to answer it. I told Pastor Chuck that I would answer the woman’s concerns in a blog post and then we would send her the link. Pastor Chuck agreed, and so here we are.
The woman who emailed Pastor Chuck identified herself as “Tiffany.”
Here’s the email Pastor Chuck received from Tiffany, unedited and in its entirety:
“To whom it may concern,
“I received a note on my windshield over the weekend from your church. Your card-sized flyer stated ‘what comes after pride’ and it had a pretty rainbow on the front. When I saw this, I though it was an invitation to Gay Pride on June 18th, come to find out it was your church’s flyer. I want to start off by saying how appalled I was and how repulsive your flyer is. Instead of being excited that someone invited my girlfriend and I to pride, your flyer made me feel attacked. Coming from a religious background myself, I know every argument and reference to the Bible in regards to homosexual relationships. I am a moral upright citizen, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and I volunteer often. Instead of spending your money creating hateful flyers, I wish you would spend your money on an actual cause, such as world hunger. Also, after reflecting on your flyer, I noticed someone must have seen my girlfriend and I holding hands or being a couple. I find it very non-confrontational and somewhat cowardly to just post a flyer on my windshield rather than approaching us together and addressing your discomfort with today’s society.
“If you care at all about the real problems in the world, I would suggest stop spending your money on frivolous things as inputting your thought into who I go to bed with at night. We are in a happily committed relationship, and I wish the person who laid this on my car could see that rather than judging us for our beliefs.
“Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss further.”
My Response to Tiffany
On behalf of Pastor Chuck O’Neal and the Beaverton Grace Bible Church family, thank you for sending your email.
My name is Tony Miano, and I am the author of the “What Comes After Pride” gospel tract.
I hope this letter finds you well. I do hope and pray you will take the time to read my letter to you.
My Heart in Writing You
I would like to begin by telling you that I feel no animosity whatsoever toward you. I am not angry with you. I do not despise you. I most certainly do not hate you. While this may seem strange to you, I love you. Please allow me to explain.
Like the person who left the gospel tract on your car, I am a Christian. As one who has literally been “born from above” (John 3:3, 7), one to whom God gracious and lovingly gave the gifts of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I long to obey His commands (John 14:15). I do not seek to obey God so that I can earn His love, grace, and mercy–for such gifts cannot be earned (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7). I seek to obey Him because I am so very thankful for the unmerited favor and forgiveness He has given me, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 1:17; Romans 5:1-2).
When God saved me from my sin and His just and holy wrath against my sin, He opened my eyes to the truth of His Word–the Bible (John 17:17). And He taught me that the two greatest commandments are to love Him and to love people–to love my neighbor as myself.
“But when the Pharisees heard that he [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'” (Matthew 22:34-40).
Tiffany, you and I may never meet in person (I do hope we meet in heaven). Whether or not we ever meet, you are my neighbor. In fact, since we are both descended from the first man and woman we are cousins, albeit too many times removed to count, we are family. You and I, Tiffany are co-members of the only race–the human race (Genesis 1-3).
I will likely communicate truths that might upset you. But know this: I will speak the truth in love to you (Ephesians 4:15). I will speak the truth in love for you. My goal is not to make you like me (although that would be nice). My goal, indeed my hope and prayer, is that you too would come to know Christ–that you too would come to know the peace that I have–the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)–real peace; real hope; real life; real love.
You wrote that when you saw the gospel tract on your window and you saw “the pretty rainbow on the front,” you thought it was an invitation to an upcoming, local “Gay Pride” event. I do not apologize for using the image of a rainbow on the front of the tract. The reason: the rainbow is God’s symbol and no one else’s. God said:
“‘I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth'” (Genesis 9:11-16).
The rainbow is a visible testimony, a reminder, of God’s covenant with all mankind–his promise to never again destroy the earth by flood. The rainbow belongs to no group or individual. And it certainly does not represent mankind’s sinful pride, regardless of the object of person’s or group’s sinful pride.
At the Moment, God is Opposed to You
Tiffany, the fact that you immediately assumed the rainbow was representative of the LGBTQ community was a mistake on your part–a mistake that reveals not only your wrong thinking about the rainbow, but also the fact that, at the moment, God is opposed to you. Why?
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble'” (James 4:1-6).
Tiffany, you well articulated your pride in your email. You wrote:
“I know every argument and reference to the Bible in regards to homosexual relationships. I am a moral upright citizen, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and I volunteer often.”
Your pride in your own perceived accomplishments does not commend you to God; rather, your pride condemns you before God. The reason your pride condemns you is this: God humbled himself.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
Your pride, Tiffany, is an offense to God. It is a stench in His nostrils, because God the Son humbled Himself to take on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ–fully God and fully Man, yet without sin. And then He further humbled Himself by becoming obedient to God the Father to the point of suffering a death He did not deserve on a Roman cross.
Tiffany, God will not turn a blind-eye to your sinful pride. Unless you heed the call to repent and believe the gospel you read on that little gospel tract, God will do what is right, just, and holy in your case. He will punish your sinful pride, and the punishment He has determined for your sin, all sin, everyone’s sin is eternity in hell.
Like the person who left that paper missionary on your windshield, I don’t want that to happen to you. I could never wish God’s wrath and eternal punishment on any person. How could I love you my neighbor; how could I love you as a fellow human being and wish such an awful thing?
Your Wrong Assumptions
Tiffany, you make several baseless and false assumptions in your email, none more baseless than this one:
“Also, after reflecting on your flyer, I noticed someone must have seen my girlfriend and I holding hands or being a couple.”
Tiffany, more than 50,000 of the “What Comes After Pride” gospel tract have been sold to Christians around the world. Those who place gospel tracts on windshields or driver’s door windows do so by the hundreds, even the thousands, often at during a single effort/outing. While creating this conspiracy in your mind might make it easier for you to ignore the truth that you read on the back of the tract, no one from Beaverton Grace Bible Church has been stalking you and your girlfriend. Your car was simply one of many.
Tiffany, it was providential, not conspiratorial, that the gospel tract was placed on your windshield. God, in His providence, extended what could be seen as a common form of His grace in that He allowed you to read the gospel of His Son that day. It was with love, not anger or mean-spiritedness, that a Christian placed the gospel tract on your windshield. That you twisted in your mind a loving gesture to make it something ugly serves to show the depravity and hardness of your own heart.
Tiffany, in your present spiritual condition your heart is deceitful. And the one most deceived by your heart is you.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?
Tiffany, you expressed yourself in your email in such a way as to expose the corrosive hypocrisy of your heart and mind. You wrote:
“We are in a happily committed relationship, and I wish the person who laid this on my car could see that rather than judging us for our beliefs.”
So angry, bitter, and prideful are you, Tiffany, that you probably didn’t realize as you wrote your email that you were judging someone you never met–someone who had no idea who you are and did not have the faintest idea that you are a lesbian. No one at Beaverton Grace Bible Church would have ever known you are a lesbian, but for your prideful proclamation of it in an email to strangers.
Just as no prideful person will enter heaven, neither will the hypocrite enter heaven (Matthew 23:28; 1 Peter 2:1).
Tiffany, you sinfully forced your own biases upon a piece of paper–a message of love, grace, and forgiveness. If you read it again, you will not find a single word about homosexuality in the text. I intentionally left the topic out of the gospel tract to show people–all people, but certainly people like yourself who are in bondage to sexual immorality–that the underlying sin of most other sins is pride. Sadly, your reaction to the gospel tract serves to show how true this is.
You sinfully assumed to know the motives of the person who left the gospel tract on your car. You pridefully felt justified to hate the person who left it there, having decided in your own mind that it was left there with evil intent. Your behavior, Tiffany, is well-explained in this verse:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20)!
Again, Tiffany, I am not angry with you. I do not hate you–not at all. I love you as my neighbor, and so does the person who unknowingly left the gospel tract on your card.
I pray the Lord will bring you to repentance of the pride that presently blinds you–blinds you in such away that you self-righteously call that which is evil (pride) good, and that which is good (the gospel of God’s amazing grace) evil. And I pray that repentance, which is a gift of God’s goodness, would lead you to saving faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'” (Romans 10:9-13).
Many people are praying for you, Tiffany. I hope to see you in heaven one-day.