I often speak against pride, and I often receive objections for it. The two most common objections are: "I do not see any problem with pride, Im proud to be a Christian, to be an American
" and "Is pride really a problem? After all, we need to have self-esteem and God loves us, so what is wrong with a little pride?" I also receive this question a lot: "Why is pride in the same category and listed with all the heinous sins such as sexual immorality in Romans 1?" Pride is at the root of every conflict and problem I have ever observed in the church and is the least thing looked at or combated. So it would seem that pride wins out.
Pride is defined as the attitude that oneself is superior to others, even to the extent of the regarding of others with contempt as if they were unworthy of any relation or interaction with them. Pride shows the basic thinking "I am better than you are!" Other Biblical synonyms for pride are arrogance, insolence, boastful, stiff-necked and haughtiness. These aspects of pride clog us up and away from our loving Savior as they restrict the flow of His character in our lives and inhibit goodness from going to others through us. It is like not allowing Jesus Christ to be the ultimate plumber and unplug our spiritual drainpipes. So, all we can do is pour our waste all over the floor of life, and refuse godly characteristics to flow in our relational pipes.
Pride unveils and lifts our self-interests and our self-sufficiencies, which seem necessary and good. But, when we are self-sufficient, we will not only fail to see our need for redemption but also fail to see our need for growth in spiritual matters. Therefore, self becomes the god, and any work of the One True God is muted and put aside. Yes, God can break through like a hot knife through butter, but He usually does not. He lets us stew in our own self-created delusions until we are so beaten down we have nowhere else to go. We have the ability through His Spirit to look up and see His grace, thus not experience the chastisement and lonesomeness of pride if we choose.
The reason pride is listed with the other sins of Romans 1 is because it is a sin, a very dangerous sin, that leads to the production and fueling of other sins. This is clear in the Greek syntax, and why it is listed with the other heinous sins. We consider working hard and having a healthy dose of confidence as being good Americans or what ever culture we may be. And, to a degree, there is nothing wrong with patriotism and a healthy positive outlook of oneself and country as long as it does not elevate one as better or more worthy than others, since we all have fallen short
(Rom 3:23). But all too often we miss the evil nature that pride represents. It lifts us up beyond what we are and deserve, and cuts us off from godly character. It also fuels other sins.
The laundry list of sins in Romans 1 starts off with the reason we get into them, which is the "reprobate mind." This means being a degenerate, which is just a plain ole good-for-nothing to God and to those around us. The Bible describes this as heathen. People who refuse to believe or bow to God do in fact know who God is because He is written in their hearts and revealed by creation. However, they do not wish to uphold that knowledge of who God is, nor do they seek goodness or virtue or any fruits of the Spirit. They refuse to see who they are, and lift themselves as a god, yet they are not God. All of lifes goodness and opportunities are muted because pride is in the way.
Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness, Full of envy, Malignity, Backbiters, Haters of God, Despiteful, Boasters, and Implacable, to name a few, all have pride at their foundation. It is pride that creates them and pride that fuels them! Thus, God gives them up to sin. You may not be practicing those heinous sins, but if you have pride in you, then they are but a hairsbreadth away. They can spring up at any time and destroy the work of Christ in you and in others around you. Beware lest this happen to you or your church and family!
We need to see the imperative where God warns us in regards to pride. Even when we are not a reprobate or practicing these sins, we are still in rebellion against His degrees and His best for us when pride is ruling our thoughts and actions.
Let us look at the Scriptural references, especially in Psalms and Proverbs. They give an extreme case for what God hates, and that is pride. Check out these passages which we rarely preach on! (Job 41:34; 2 Chron. 26:16; 32:26; Psalm 10:4-5; 18:27; 31:18; 56:2; 59:12; 62:10; 73:6-12; 101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Prov. 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 16:18; 21:4; 24; 29:23; 30:13; Isa. 2:11-21; 13:19; 16: 6; 23:9; Ezek. 28:2; Obad. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:6; 2 Cor. 5:12; 7:4; Gal. 6:4; and these are just a few!)
Here are some Scriptural Highlights on Pride:
Psalms 10:4: In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. NIV A persons pride comes between him and God and distorts the Word and work He has for him. It cancels out relationships, growth and purpose in life. People who practice arrogance and condescension toward others will not surrender to God as Lord. They think of themselves as self-reliant, which is a slap to the face of God.
Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. (NIV) When we are infested with pride, we are hindered from one of the primary duties of the Christian walk, which is self surrender (Gal. 2:20). The mature Christian will be surrendered totally to Christ, with both self-will and actions. Thus, he will not be bragging, gossiping, spreading dissention or puffing himself up. Instead, he will be presenting honesty, goodness, love and virtue where pride cannot live or function. Seek His face and He will equip you to go through everything that life throws at you. You will not even need pride.
Psalm 119:21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed, and who stray from your commands. (NIV) It is clear from this and many other passages that God hates our condescending actions with a passion. These actions move us far from His love and what is best for us and for others around us.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate. (NAS) A mature Christian will hate any form of arrogance. We cannot rely only on our education and experience in life and forget faith and trust. Neither can we exclude one over the other. Faith and reason are like shoes. We can walk further when we have them both on. Pride is the factor that will cause us to exclude reason by saying all we need is faith. The opposite it true also. We cannot have ethics and morality based on reason alone. Neither can we grow in maturity by faith without the study and practice of the Word.
Proverbs 16:5: The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. (NIV) Everyone who is proud, especially Christians, are a disgrace to God! Beware, because they will not last long in it. God will see to it that they are punished.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (NAS) God hates pride and cannot put up with arrogant and prideful people. The sin of pride is perhaps more destructive than any other sin. It is the root cause of the malice and evil in the heart of humanity. It is the malevolence that people commit! It is the main reason for the fall of Satan and humanity. It is what separates us from God.
Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin. (NAS) This passage is describing a light guiding the wicked. That light is pride versus the Light we are to follow, Christs!
Proverbs 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. (NAS) To be a wise person, we need to put our pride away, for it will make us truly foolish. We gain much more respect when we listen than when we speak what we do not know or understand. The same is true when we hog the spotlight from others.
Proverbs 28:25-26 An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. (NAS) Pride will distort and even destroy our reliance and faith with our Lord faster than anything else. When we place our trust in ourselves, we are replacing God and His eternal truths for temporary untruths and foolish endeavors that lead us nowhere.
Job 35:12-13: He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. (NIV) When people who are filled with pride seek God for help out of desperation He may not listen to them. Pride can even block our prayers.
Job 40:12 Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him; And tread down the wicked where they stand. (NAS) The context of this passage is about dinosaur-like creatures whose power is greater than man can conceive. Yet God is in control of them. Thus, pride is in our ability to control too. Gods power is ultimate and pride is a massive delusion to ourselves.
Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And clever in their own sight! (NAS) It is God who knows all things, so what do we have to be prideful about? When we try to walk the Christian life by ourselves, without help from anyone else, we set ourselves up for a lonely journey to nowhere that will lead us off a cliff! We cannot achieve any progress in our spiritual maturity when we try to bear it all ourselves. A leader cannot do it all, nor can a pastor or anyone else who claims Christ as their Lord.
Habakkuk 2:4: See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith. (NIV) Babylonians were the quintessential picture of the exercise of pride. It may seem to work for awhile, but the cost is so high and the fall is so far, it is never worth the effort. Pride causes people to see the world and think incorrectly. It is so blinding that prideful people will be the last one to see their own sin before it is too late.
Mark 9:35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all." (NAS) Self-giving is the prime characteristic of our Lord and Savior. Pride is the complete opposite, the antithesis of that character that we are to emulate.
Luke 16:15 And He said to them "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God." What is in our heart is the principle aspect of who we are and how we are. We have the choice of emulating Christ-likeness or pride-fullness. The choice is ours to make, and so are the consequences we are to receive. This is not because God is a killjoy, but rather because we deliberately choose to disobey His best plan and call and trade these for foolishness.
John 5:44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? (NAS) Why would we want glory from others when we can get it from the King and Creator of the universe? People who are prideful are difficult to impossible to work with, and after awhile, nobody wants to be around them!
Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (NAS) What distinguishes us is our humility. What repels others is our pride. We cannot have the attitude that we are the only ones God has called for a task or endeavor for the Kingdom. We cannot see ourselves as the only key ingredient or un-expendable. We are His tools, but remember He can raise up better people than you or me.
1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. (NAS) When we puff ourselves up, we cause conflict and strife. This causes the church to be full of contention rather than the love of God. Be aware of the pride that allows you to give and give but not accept!
1 Corinthians 5:2 And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. (NAS) Pride was the root problem in the Corinthian church. They failed to see it or oppress it when they did see it. When we do not stop prides influence in the church, we will not have a church, but rather a club of dissention.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant. (NAS) What love is not is as important as what love is. Be aware that we will be held accountable and even judged on what we do not do or refuse to see because sin and pride are in the way (Matt. 23:27; Luke 19:42)!
2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart. (NAS) How the world evaluates us is the opposite of how God evaluates. We should evaluate the way God does. We are to see the cause and motivations and not the numbers and appearance. The teacher of the Word must be rooted in the Word and then teach its truths. The opposite would be to focus on appearances, power and prestige. We cannot ever dictate to God what we are willing to do or not do, or give Him any conditions for our trust and obedience. That behavior is from the pit of pride and not from the obedience of true surrender.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18 But HE WHO BOASTS, LET HIM BOAST IN THE LORD. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (NAS) Never allow your position or achievements turn into spiritual pride! When we do boast, it is to glorify our Lord and it is never to lift up ourselves. We cannot allow pride to be the excuse to protect others from consequences, ridicule or harm. Such thinking as, "I will not be the one to cause others to suffer for the church; I will do it for them." may seem to honor them by our protection, but, in fact, we are keeping them from their growth and opportunities. (Im speaking of spiritual protection, not physical.) Humiliation and suffering are the pillars that we can lean on and gain support from. They are not to distract us from Christs work or be a barrier for others in the faith.
Galatians 6:4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another." (NAS) We are to think and see things clearly, not adding something that is not there or revising it to fit our agenda. This goes from history, to running a church, to being a faithful Christian. Neither are we to gain false confidence from what we have accomplished. What is it compared to what God has done? Can the greatest manmade achievement compare to a sunrise or a snowcapped mountain?
2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy. (NAS) We must not allow possessions and their root, pride, to blind us from our true reason for and purpose in life. We have to get rid of the idea that we must be filled with self-esteem and know ourselves and find ourselves before we can be obedient and learn from our Lord! The only One who truly knows us and understands us is God.
James 1:9-10 But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. (NAS) What do you want out of life--temporary praise that will soon be forgotten, or a high status in the kingdom of God? The true treasure and our glory is in whom we are in Christ and what He has done for us.
James 4:6: But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." (NAS) God is opposed to the proud! What more evidence do you need to realize how bad this is? God is supreme in the universe. God is God and we are not! Thus, God is the only One to be worshiped, and it is our prime directive to recognize God's lordship over our lives. Pride causes us to reject Gods lordship in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Beware if you are prideful because He will deflate you, sometimes fast sometimes not, but He will! Your pride will come before your destruction. Your pride will be the main thing that sets you up for the fall!
1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (NAS) We need to seek wisdom from those who have gone before us, those who are wiser and more experienced. Pride will block us from learning and growth! We are to see elders as people we learn from, not hindrances to our plans. When we forsake their wisdom and experience, we miss a lot and subject ourselves to a needless big learning curve in life.
Revelation 3:17 You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Be aware that too much comfort and compliancy will interfere with your spiritual growth and the best that He has for you! The comfort we seek in the world will only lead to disillusionment and misery. Then we will gain nothing.
Pride sets us up as a god when there is only One God. God wants our obedience, love and trust. We cannot do that when we are too full of ourselves! I have struggled with this a lot over the years, and God keeps humbling me! In America we glance over this and do not consider it relevant, but we must see it as it is, heinous! We need to see how harmful and destructive pride and its various forms are in the life of the Christian and the church. We have to take the initiative to remove our Will and allow the Spirit to break us down. If we dont, we will break down and the church will break down. We cannot be afraid to see things from Gods perspective, neither can we be afraid to allow Him to work in us and grow us for His purpose. We have to allow the Spirit and our obedience and diligence of study in the Word to develop our spiritual maturity in the nature of God. Yet, most Christians choose to develop their character on how others around them act and their own presumptions of the Christian life rather than in His nature and Word.
We cannot see the value nor get a grasp of the promises of God until we surrender our pride and Will to Him. Make the determination to be His and do not allow your self-will to be in His way! Allow Christ to take you beyond your hopes and dreams (John 3:5).
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy word Ministries