To study pride, we need first to take note of what God is saying about it. Read the following Scripture references carefully and allow the Holy Spirit enough time to show you God’s attitude towards pride, and the consequences of pride in our lives.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deut.8:2)
You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. (2 Sam.22:28)
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war. (2 Chron.16:9)
But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. (2 Chron.26:16)
Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chron.32:26)
O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death. (Ps.9:13)
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Ps.10:4)
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech. (Prov.8:13)
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Prov.11:2)
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Prov.13:10)
The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honour. (Prov.15:33)
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov.16:18)
Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honour. (Prov.18:12)
Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life. (Prov.22:4)
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (Isa.13:11)
The terror you inspire and the pride of your heart have deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks, who occupy the heights of the hill. Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD. (Jer.49:16)
But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. (Dan.5:20)
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Dan.10:12)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt.5:3)
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt.11:29)
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt.18:4)
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matt.20:26-28)
The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt.23:11-12)
He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. (Luk.1:52)
He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30)
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal.6:3,14)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph.4:2)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Phil.2:3)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil.2:5-11)
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Col.2:18,23)
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Pet.5:6)
The essence of pride
Right from the start we must know that we all have pride in our hearts – irrespective of who you are. All of us have pride in our hearts. No exceptions.
A proud person wants more for himself – he wants more acknowledgement, a deep desire that people must know that “I” am important and that I must be treated as important. And because I am important, there is a set of rules for me and another set of rules that apply to other people. A person filled with pride, believes he is superior and talks about himself all the time. Pride has many facets: fault-finding, a “hard” heart, superficiality, self-defence, arrogance, unthankful, entitlement, prayerlessness and rebellion.
Pride gets a grip on our lives when we believe that our human nature has some good in it and that we have the ability as human beings to do good on our own. Pride is revealed in our lives in self-love, selfishness, self-pity and the quest for recognition, position, power and all forms of self-centredness. Hypocrisy, religiosity and hidden sin are all rooted in pride. Pride is also sometimes (not always) found in more subtle forms in people who need to feel significant, who give misguided importance to feelings of self-worth and self-image. Pride reaches its climax when people start seeing themselves as gods and start acting that way. Pride is putting yourself on the throne. Pride thinks it is better than others and looks down on the values and abilities of others.
What is pride’s reaction when he is not being acknowledged? Anger, criticism about the lives of others, feelings of unfair treatment and this gives way to bitterness, jealousy and self-pity, that causes actions that will hurt people, and all kinds of negative behaviour.
What caused the fall of Satan? His desire to be God. Deep down we want something similar. We want to be on top, important, the best – and everybody must know it.
Only Jesus can rescue us from pride.
How do I get rid of pride?
You have to ask the Lord to show you the pride in your heart. The Holy Spirit must show it to you, and you must acknowledge that it is your pride. Through the ages, pride has kept many people out of heaven. Millions of Christians have borne very little spiritual fruit because of pride. Pride is self-centred and gets in the way of a believer’s faith. Pride is the stronghold in us that gives right of admission to all sorts of sin and evil in our lives.
- The power of pride is broken only when we understand how evil it is and what consequences it has in our lives. Pride is a way of resisting God, standing up against God. The power of pride is broken only when we deliberately choose to humble ourselves before God. Most people desire to be acknowledged for what they have achieved and for who they are, to be praised and honoured in the presence of fellow human beings. It is, however, possible to choose against this form of pride. Sometimes pride has gained such a hold over us that we need help to realise how arrogant we have become. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal our pride to us, and only the power of the Holy Spirit can deliver us from our pride.
- Pride, in general, is a sure indication that the specific person does not understand God’s love for him/her and does not experience love from other people. Only a revelation of God’s love will set you free from pride – but only if you accept this love and learn to live from a position of love.
- God often uses persecution, failure, pain, loneliness, humiliation, shame, grief and opposition to reveal our pride to us and bring us to the end of our own abilities.
- Pride puts ‘self’ on the throne, but in heaven the Lamb that was slain is on the throne. There is really no limit to what God can do through a person who is free of pride. When the devil cannot keep us from praying and spiritual labour, he will make us proud of ourselves, and we will fall into this dangerous trap where God cannot use us. To see Jesus as the Lamb that was slain and the resurrected One in splendour and glory, will set you free from pride. It will show you who you really are and who Jesus really is.
- We must take the position of a servant, a slave of Christ. It might be difficult, but there is no other way. There is hope for proud hearts in the humility of Jesus Christ. Ask
In Philippians 2:4-6 we read: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” It’s because of Jesus’ humility that we can be forgiven of our pride. That’s both the sting and joy of the gospel. It deals with our pride by destroying it, reminding us that life is not about us, and that we deserve only the wrath of God for our sin. Jesus Christ also deals with our pride by taking the just punishment for it upon Himself at the cross, that we might be renewed in the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10) and made humble like our Saviour. Being humbled is not smooth or painless, but it’s our rescue.
In the end it is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can rescue us from pride.