The Bible specifically warns us to avoid pride and arrogance. How do we recognize and purge this dangerous and infectious sin from our lives?
The late New Testament scholar John Stott said, “At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.”
He also said, “Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.”
God reveals that He considers a proud look and a proud heart to be an abomination (Proverbs 6:16-17; 16:5). God also inspired Solomon to write, “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
So, why does God hate pride so much?
The Bible defines pride as arrogance, haughtiness and conceit. Pride emphasizes the self over others, and it rejects God’s greatness.
Pride occurs when sinful human beings subconsciously aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him. Pride contends for supremacy with Him.
Pride takes innumerable forms but has only one end: self-glorification. That’s the motive and ultimate purpose of pride—to rob God of legitimate glory and to pursue self-glorification, contending for supremacy with Him. The proud person considers himself better than other people, and even seeks to glorify himself instead of God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.
A proud person has a distorted view of himself, not accepting Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29: “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. … that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
Putting ourselves in the place of God is truly prideful, but pride also includes deciding that we know better than everyone else when we should be esteeming others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Even comparing ourselves too favorably over others would be prideful and certainly is not wise to do (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Ungodly and hateful pride is a growing reality in the modern world. Instead of emphasizing personal responsibility and gratitude, this world emphasizes self-worth and self-centeredness. From the time when Lucifer developed pride because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17) to today, when modern political candidates and celebrities flaunt their greatness, the entire span of history shows us how infectious and dangerous pride can be.
Pride can also affect us in subtle ways. It is always lurking in the background of our lives, and we might not even be aware of it.It’s no wonder God listed pride as something He hates and inspired multiple scriptures to be written showing why all humanity should overcome it. We are even told, “God resists the proud” (James 4:6). This alone should be a warning that pride has to go.
But pride can also affect us in subtle ways. It is always lurking in the background of our lives, and we might not even be aware of it.
Three ways pride may be infecting us
1. Social media.
Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for staying connected with friends and family. However, social media can also be a breeding ground for personal pride. Here is one way pride can reveal its ugly face on social media outlets:
Constantly checking to see how many people liked or commented on something we posted, or how many “hits” we receive, and feeling upset if “not enough” people responded.
Challenge: Review past posts and comments and see how much attention we tried to pull toward ourselves. Also, we could go through our personal photo albums and see if we have an excessive number of “selfies” posted.
2. Conversations with friends.
There’s nothing like getting together with friends and having great conversations. But what happens when pride creeps into our conversations? It is easy to spot in others, but much harder to see in ourselves. Notice these examples:
One-uppers: Trying to beat the stories or experiences other people are relating (“My day was worse” or “I had a bigger problem”). This is an attempt to bring the focus back on us, no matter what other people are saying.
Conversation dominators: When one person dominates a conversation to the extent that the other person cannot get a word in edgewise. Conversation should be give-and-take, not just give.
Know-it-alls: Never admitting wrong and always pointing out wrong in others. Unfortunately, too often this goes beyond just conversation and turns into a full lifestyle of pride. It is very important to have the ability to admit when we are wrong.
Challenge: Ask a friend or family member—someone close enough to us to be honest despite hurting our feelings—to answer this question gently but truthfully: “Do you sometimes think I’m being arrogant or boastful in what I say?” If we are not comfortable doing this, we can still try to evaluate our own conversations.
3. Our spirituality.
Jesus Christ warned against pride in our own spirituality (Matthew 6:1, 5). Though Christ wants us to practice righteous living, He doesn’t want us to live righteously just to attract attention to ourselves or appear righteous to others. Constantly calling attention to our personal righteousness is an easy way to fall into pride (the epitome of unrighteousness).
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus constantly corrected the Pharisees for practicing religion just to be seen by others.
The most famous example is in Luke 18:9-11: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.”’” (For more details, read our article “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.”)
Challenge: As we post things online or speak to others, we need to keep this instruction in mind: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
A hard road
Pride is not an easy sin to overcome, mainly because it is so easy to see in others, yet so painfully difficult to see in ourselves. Benjamin Franklin once stated: “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
Seeing the danger that pride brings—destruction (Proverbs 16:18)—should make us that much more eager to fight against this sin at every turn.
One of the best ways to deal with pride is to replace it with an attitude God constantly emphasizes in the Scriptures—humility. “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).
Another antidote to pride is to remember to give thanks to God (Colossians 3:15-17). Being thankful to Him helps us to realize that everything we have—including our lives and our blessings—comes from God, and He deserves all the credit and glory.
So, let’s crush insidious pride in all of its forms and replace it with humility and thanksgiving!
To learn more about overcoming pride, read the blog post “Overcoming Pride.”