Jamaica Patois Wisdom - Pride

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: Di higha di monkey climb, di more im expose.

English: The higher the monkey climbs, the more of him is exposed.

Meaning: When one attempts to exalt himself, he can be disgraced.


Pride has been the downfall of multitudes in all generations. It even started in Eden. We recall Satan’s approach to Eve: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:5-6). Notice the “desire to be like God.” What is that but an appeal to pride?

Notice the three categories of sin that John outlined for us: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (I John 2:16). Satan tempted Christ with this as he urged Christ to jump off the temple and let the angels catch him so that all could see he was the Son of God (Matthew 4:6).

We all like to feel we are important, but genuine importance can be displayed more in a spirit of humility and service than in a display of pride. I cannot think of a more important character in the New Testament than Paul, excluding Christ, of course. Yet how did Paul characterize himself? “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle…” (I Corinthians 15:9); “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). Paul also encouraged a man “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3).

We remember Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall when he gloried in the great kingdom he had built. God brought him down to the level of cattle eating grass for seven seasons. In time he uttered these words: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (Daniel 4:37).

I have seen too many churches harmed or even destroyed by those who have the spirit of “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them…” (III John 9). A preacher may be asked to leave, but may be so full of pride that he feels his ambition is of greater importance than the peace of the congregation, so he splits the church. Or elders, or other men in the church become factious over personalities and preferences. Let us make sure that our “importance” is known by our deeds rather than by our self-proclaimed prominence.

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (I Peter 5:5-6). Take heed that we do not expose ourselves!