By Mike Willis
Formerly known as “one of the seven deadly sins,” pride is rarely mentioned in discussions regarding the building of Christian character. Webster defines “pride” as follows:
1. An overhigh opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; conceit;
2. The showing of this in behavior; haughtiness; arrogance;
3. A sense of one’s own dignity of worth; self-respect.
Everyone must have a sense of self-respect. We learn to take a sense of pride in our appearance in order that we not dress slovenly or in filthiness. We maintain our cars, homes, and lawns in a respectable manner. However, when selfrespect becomes exaggerated, pride develops. Man begins to think too highly of himself. Warning of the danger of pride, an old Chinese proverb says, “He who stands on a pedestal has nowhere to step but off.”
Pride Is A Sin
Pride, an exaggerated, overhigh opinion of oneself, is a sin. “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Prov. 21:4). It is the mark of a generation without reverence for God (Prov. 30:13; Rom. 1:30). It stems from a corrupt heart (Mk. 7:21-23).
Pride Is An Avenue of Temptation
In describing how the Devil tempts men to sin, John includes the “vainglory” or “pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:15). There are many things in life in which men take pride; through these avenues the Devil tempts us. Some take pride in their (a) appearance; (b) education; (c) race; (d) job; (e) possessions (cf. Prov. 30:7-9). They brag about these things and want to display them to others.
What Pride Does
When one considers the fruits of pride, he will better appreciate why God considers it an abomination (Prov. 6:17). Here are some of its fruits:
1. Pride dethrones God in one’s heart. In Romans 1:30, Paul describes the Gentiles as “despiteful, proud.” The word “despiteful” (Greek: hubristes) means “an insolent man, ‘one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong… (Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 633-634). William Barclay further described this character:
The basic evil of hubris is that when hubris enters into a man’s heart that man forgets that he is a creature and that God is the Creator (More New Testament Words, pp. 77-78).
A proud man has such as exalted view of himself that he dethrones, God as Lord over him.
2. He exalts himself. Paul told the Christian “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). The wise man wrote, “It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory” (Prov. 25:27). Putting oneself up on a pedestal, even if limited to a pedestal in one’s own mind, is sinful and will lead to destruction.
3. He develops an attitude of superiority toward others. Thinking himself to be better than others, he begins to “look down his nose” at those he judges to be inferior to himself. His snobbish behavior makes him obnoxious to his fellow man (cf. the description of four intolerable things in Prov. 30:21-23 which describe men and women who, having been exalted, become proud).
4. He becomes a braggart. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). The man who is full of pride in his heart begins to brag about that in which he takes pride. He becomes a boastful man, a braggart (cf. Rom. 1:30; 2 Tim. 3:2). This makes him more obnoxious to his fellow man.
5. He becomes self-willed. Proud men – men who exalt themselves and feel superior to their fellow man – usually become self-willed men. They think, “My way is best; my way is the only way; my way or else.” This leads to contention (Prov. 13:10), strife (Prov. 28:25), wrath (Prov. 21:24), and sinful speech (Prov. 14:3). Many churches across America are torn asunder by proud, arrogant, self-willed brethren who would rather see the church divided than to give an inch in judgmental matters. Such men are not qualified to be leaders in the church (cf. Tit. 1:7).
6. Pride prevents conversion. In order for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven, he must be “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). He must become as a child (Matt. 18:3). So long as man has the feeling that he is rich, increased with goods, and has need of nothing, he will never recognize his true spiritual condition – wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17). Not sensing his need of salvation and feeling self-satisfied, the proud man will not seek forgiveness of his sins through Christ.
7. Prevents confession of sins to God and others. Some people are too proud to admit that they were wrong. They lack the humility to go to those against whom they have sinned and say, “I have sinned against you; please forgive me.” They refuse to bow their stubborn necks to God and seek His forgiveness. Humility is confused with weakness, in many people’s minds.
8. Prevents service to others. Some are too proud to do the menial tasks in serving the needs of others. Jesus was the “God of the towel,” the God who took a towel, girded Himself, and washed His disciples’ feet. The proud man expects his feet to be washed but has no intention of lowering himself to wash another’s feet. Hence, the proud man expects others to serve him but he will not serve others.
Pride Leads To Destruction
The proverbs repeatedly emphasize that pride precedes destruction:
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom (Prov. 11:2).
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).
. . . he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction (Prov. 17:19).
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility (Prov. 18:12).
A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit (Prov. 29:23).
Paul warned, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Pride Is Hated By God
A proud look is included in the list of seven things which are an abomination to God (Prov. 6:17; cf. 16:5). “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud” (Prov. 15:25). Inasmuch as pride is hated by God and the proud will be destroyed by Him, men should learn to view pride as God does and to hate it. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Prov. 8:13).
King Herod: An Example of Pride
A New Testament example of pride is recorded in Acts 12. King Herod killed James the brother of John. He then put Peter in prison, planning to kill him. The Lord miraculously delivered Peter. Later King Herod went to Caesarea. There Herod arrayed himself in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration to the people. They shouted, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Herod accepted their homage.
However, God smote Herod “because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:23). Truly, his pride preceded his destruction in the most literal sense.
Let us remember our place in God’s creation: we are creatures who have sinned against an holy God. Let us not be guilty of self-exaltation. Rather, let us be humble children, subjecting ourselves to the will of the Lord who made us.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 23, pp. 706, 726
December 4, 1986