Pride is a funny word. It has both a positive and negative meaning. On one hand, pride is a good thing, like taking pride in your work, self-respect, or taking delight in something, such as your children. But then on the other hand, pride can mean conceitedness, or an over-exaggerated display of self-worth. Leave it to humans to take something good and turn it into something bad with our sinful, self-glorifying nature!
Walking a prideful path is a lonely and dangerous road. Pride can lead us to anger, lack of forgiveness, lack of faithfulness, judgment of others, and impatience. And yet, Christians are supposed to possess the opposite characteristics. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against these things!”
And because in Matthew 7:16, Jesus tells us that “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act”, let’s take a closer look at what the bible says about each characteristic pride brings. For more on anger and lack of forgiveness, please read my blog entries entitled, “Anger: Why Do I Get So Angry and What Does God Think?” and “Forgiveness: Loving the Unlovely” respectively.
How does pride lead to lack of faithfulness? The answer lies in Psalms 10:4, which states, “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Likewise, Deuteronomy states, “Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.” In other words, when you are prideful, what use do you have for God? If you boast and glorify yourself, you must believe how great you are and that all of your accomplishments are based on your own merits! I believe that this is why the Bible says, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” in Proverbs 16:5. According to Merriam Webster, “detest” means loathe or “to dislike greatly and often with disgust or intolerance.” “Detests”, that is a strong word!
Casting judgment on others is another clear sign of pride. Someone in a position to make a judgment, by definition, is in a position of knowing or authority. So if you are the type of person who likes to criticize the actions, opinions or words of others, then you must have all the answers! And yet, Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Impatience is another result of pride. Similar to having lack of forgiveness, impatience is a sign to the world that you are of great importance and should not be kept waiting or lack understand of other’s faults or weakness, because you have achieved perfection. “What?!”, you say? “That’s not me!”, you say? And yet you lose patience waiting in line for the slow checkout clerk at the grocery store or with the person driving a little too slow to be in the fast lane. Hear me Brothers and Sisters, IT IS PRIDE! I should know, I suffer from it all the time! God has been chastising and correcting me, because of pride for years. If you would like to read a good example of how God admonished me for my pride with tithing, read my blog entry entitled, “Tithing: Are You Stealing God’s Money?”
These unwanted results of pride are the reasons why the Bible lists dozens of scripture pertaining to pridefulness, like
- When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
- Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18-19)
- Before his downfall, a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18:12)
- Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. (Psalms 138:6)
- For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
As you can see, God is quite clear about His opinion and punishment for pride! Fortunately, God is also clear about how to counteract pride:
- Do not boast. “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)
- Be a servant to others. “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) This is why Jesus washed the feet of His twelve disciples at the Last Supper. In John 13:12-17, it is written, “When he had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
- Be humble. “When He (Jesus) noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)
- Be like Christ. “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
In summary, I leave you with one final thought from an excerpt out of 1Peter 5:5-6, which states,
“…And all of you, serve each other in humility, for
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God,
and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.”
In His Light,