Humility isn’t valued very highly today. But the Bible shows it’s not just a nice characteristic—it’s one that’s essential to please God.
Arrogance is certainly not among the most desirable characteristics in a person. People who are arrogant, full of themselves, and who deem themselves superior to others are so annoying. They’re condescending, selfish, egotistical and blind to the needs of others.
For many, the arrogance of others is an annoyance and source of frustration, but nothing more. Most would prefer that others not be arrogant, but society doesn’t really put a high value on its opposite—humility. The self-assured seem to succeed, while the humble get walked on.
A look at the Bible, however, shows that God places great emphasis on humility—and says some very condemning things about pride in all its forms.
God hates pride
“These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him,” begins the list of things that God absolutely hates. They are not things that annoy God, His pet peeves or a few minor frustrations. This is the list of things that God will not tolerate. The first thing on this list is “a proud look” (Proverbs 6:16-17).
God does more than hate pride. Pride is so offensive that He actually “resists the proud,” while, in contrast, He “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
God also requires humility of those who choose to follow Him (Micah 6:8). It is on the humble one He will look, not the arrogant (Isaiah 66:2). The contrast is so strong that the Bible declares, “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow” (Proverbs 15:25). The possessions of the proud will be destroyed, while God will look after and protect the humble, such as widows.
Why are pride and humility such big deals to God?
Pride’s grand entrance
Humans generally see pride in others as an annoyance, but we have a hard time seeing it in ourselves. God sees pride for exactly what it is—a terrible instigator of evil.
The universe was originally ideal and full of peace. Everything was perfect. There was no strife, confusion, violence, evil or destruction.
Then things began to change. Gradually, one of God’s greatest angels started to think how great he was. The angel—the one often called Lucifer—began to think that he was even greater than God Himself. As his pride grew, he apparently corrupted a third of the other angels and staged a rebellion against the very God of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Revelation 12:7-9). For more on how Lucifer became Satan, read “Satan: A Profile.”
Pride and the plan of God
To fully understand why God hates pride and esteems humility so much, it’s necessary to understand what God has planned for the human race. This physical life is not all there is—it’s a time to prepare for a limitless life dwelling in eternity.
Mankind was made with a purpose—the purpose of becoming sons and daughters of God Himself (2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:10). Those who become children of God will be given awesome power.
That power can’t go to just anybody. God will only give it to those He trusts to use it wisely. If He gave that power to someone as arrogant as Satan, the potential for evil and destruction would be unimaginable.
It’s vital that we learn the lesson of humility now—in this physical life. Pride destroys, devastates and corrupts.It’s vital that we learn the lesson of humility now—in this physical life. Pride destroys, devastates and corrupts. No member of God’s family can possess pride. God doesn’t, and neither will His children.
For more on man’s purpose for life, read our article “Purpose of Life.”
God is superior to mankind in every way imaginable. In spite of this, God loves us enough to deal with us and, more amazing still, is willing to share all that He is and all that He has with us.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He revealed to us the very mind of the Father (John 5:19). The example that Christ set was one of humility (Luke 22:27; John 13:1-16). Christ’s willingness to become human and sacrifice Himself for His creation was the supreme act of love and humility (Philippians 2:5-7).
How pride destroys
Pride is an overinflated sense of self-worth, or thinking that we are greater than we actually are. Pride occurs when our perspective becomes so skewed that we think we are superior to those around us. It destroys relationships and is the opposite of godly love.
Pride causes us to forget that the nations are a drop in the bucket compared to God (Isaiah 40:15). Pride makes us think that we do not need God. As man elevates himself, God eventually gets shoved out of the picture entirely (Romans 1:18-25).
Thinking that we don’t need God is one of the biggest mistakes we can make. Satan—the arrogant being who started all of the evil we see in the world—is still “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). His goal is the utter destruction of every single human being in existence. The only way that we can prevent him from achieving that goal is to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
Pride’s ugly future
In the last days, before Christ’s return, pride will bring mankind to the brink of total destruction. The apostle Paul provided a list of the predominant characteristics that men and women will have in the end times, and it’s not a pretty list. The descriptions range from traitors to those without self-control to the haughty (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
These characteristics—including haughtiness or pride—will cause mankind to defy God. When He causes plagues to strike the earth for the purpose of bringing mankind to repentance, many will be too arrogant to turn to Him. They will grow angry and blaspheme God instead of humbly bending to His will (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).
In the end, prideful men will be humbled, and Satan will be put away.
In the meantime, it is up to us to destroy the pride in our lives and develop the humility that was in the mind of Christ. If we are to be exalted as members of the family of God, then we must humble ourselves now (Luke 14:11). Humility matters that much.