We live in a time when the personal characteristic of Pride is held up and exalted. To many in this age, pride is everything, if we don’t have pride in ourselves, or whatever else is in mind, then we are, somehow lacking it is thought. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines pride, as it is defined in the Bible, like this:
An undue confidence in and attention to one’s own skills, accomplishments, state, possessions, or position. Pride is easier to recognize than to define, easier to recognize in others than in oneself. Many biblical words describe this concept, each with its own emphasis. Some of the synonyms for pride include
· arrogance, presumption, conceit, self-satisfaction, boasting, and high-mindedness.
It is the opposite of humility, the proper attitude one should have in relation to God. Pride is rebellion against God because it attributes to oneself the honor and glory due to God alone. Proud persons do not think it necessary to ask forgiveness because they do not admit their sinful condition. This attitude toward God finds expression in one’s attitude toward others, often causing people to have a low estimate of the ability and worth of others and therefore to treat them with either contempt or cruelty. Some have considered pride to be the root and essence of sin. Others consider it to be sin in its final form. In either case, it is a grievous sin.
The Biblical word “Boasting” can be committed only in the presence of other persons (1 John 2:16; James 4:16). “Haughtiness” or “arrogance” measures self as above others (Mark 7:23; Luke 1:51; Rom. 1:30; 2 Tim. 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). This word refers primarily to the attitude of one’s heart. First Timothy 3:6; 6:4; and 2 Tim. 3:4 use a word literally meaning “to wrap in smoke.” It emphasizes the plight of the one who has been blinded by personal pride. The idea that is sort of inherent in Pride is not only what is above, but contains the thought that the one having pride does not rightly see themselves in measure against the truth of God’s nature and of all that He has done as compared to our abilities.
Pride may appear in many forms. Some of the more common are
· pride of race, spiritual pride, and pride of riches.
Jesus denounced pride of race (Luke 3:8).
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was directed at those guilty of spiritual pride, the ones “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else” (Luke 18:9). James 1:9-10, in his “Perspective of Rich and Poor”, warns the rich against the temptation to be lifted up with pride because of their wealth.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
Pride is viewed as a great evil because it involves pretending to a greatness and glory that belong rightly to God alone. There is a good bit of info in the Scripture describing the sinfulness of pride in various terms:
1. It is condemned as evil (1Sa 15:23; Pr 21:4; Jas 4:16 See also Mk 7:22-23; Ro 1:29-30; 2Co 12:20; 2Ti 3:1-2; 1Jn 2:16)
2. It is a characteristic of Satan (Eze 28:2; 1Ti 3:6 See also 2Th 2:4 the antichrist)
3. Proud talk: 1Sa 2:3; Ps 12:2-3; Jer 9:23-24 Ps 5:5; 40:4; 138:6; Isa 5:21; Jer 13:15-17; Mt 23:12 pp Lk 14:11
As most believers know, there are a number of warnings against pride:
1. In the book of Proverbs Pr 16:5,18 See also Pr 3:7,34; 6:16-17; 11:2; 25:6-7,27; 26:12; 27:1; 29:23
2. Elsewhere in Scripture Ps 119:21 See also Lev 26:19
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught very definitively on pride; Ro 12:16; 1Co 10:12
In a more general sense, we’re told clearly that God opposes the proud: (1Pe 5:5; Jas 4:6; Pr 3:34)
· Peter advises in an excellent fashion for us to Submit to God and to Resist the Devil
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. 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)
In James 4:6 James warned that…
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Solomon, very familiarly and I suspect building of his own experience, says in Proverbs 3:34
34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
Likewise we can easily see that the gospel excludes pride (Ro 3:27 See also Lk 18:9-14; Ro 4:2-3; 11:17-20; 1Co 1:26-31; Eph 2:8-9). Interestingly and thoughtfully, it is also clear that godliness involves rejecting pride (Pr 8:13 See also Ps 101:5; 131:1; Ro 12:3; 1Co 13:4; Gal 6:14).
Thus we can easily see that pride is not something to be cultivated and exalted, as it is in our country and our society. Rather, it is humility, or lowliness that we must be seeking. There are a number of reasons that the Bible gives for this. Solomon touched on a couple of them in this passage (though there a host more).
“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 (15:33; 16:18; 18:12).
First, though we know, and know well, for believers, pride really ought NOT come! “When” is a time or circumstance word in the OT, as well as in the NT. It seems surely that the “pride comes” is that which, under better circumstances and if the one it comes to was taking proper care, it would have been avoided.
Second, it seems clear that the coming of pride always has what is an unacceptable result; unacceptable to any and all. That result is the arising of shame. Shame appears some 190 times in the OT and another 46 times in the NT. Biblically, shame is not just a matter of feeling bad about a decision or something similar. Rather is speaking of dishonor, disgrace, ignominy, or some sense of thee known failure that brings dishonor that is visible to anyone watching.
Third we want to notice that these two undesirable things seem to build on one another. This is why Solomon puts it the way that he does. If pride is the inappropriate esteem and promotion of self for matters and talents and qualities that are not truly worthy of being held in such a fashion.
Fourthly here, we need to recognize that God distains pride in His children, and, correspondingly, humility, or lowliness is the much more preferable character trait to be developed in His people.
Fifly, and related to the prior point, not only is humility (lowliness) preferred by God and to be embraced by His people; it is wise to do so! Wisdom, as we noted in past posts, refers to being knowledgeable (in the Bible…regarding spiritual matters), skillful, clever, and such in the application and accomplishment of tasks. A wise man is able to see, figure out and make sense of matters from God’s biblical point of view, and then put that knowledge to use in a God please fashion.
Lastly, it seems that the cultivation of lowliness is the very demonstration of wisdom while allowing ourselves to demonstrate and be known for our pride is the height of foolishness. Not a very pleasant matter to consider, is it?
Arrogance is inevitably succeeded by shame. Elation of spirit precedes a downfall (Proverbs 16:18).
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
But with the humble is wisdom. The wisdom which is itself honor, which confers honor, which saves from disgrace, - this follows upon and is the result of humility (Proverbs 15:33; Cp. Ps. 25).
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
Holy Scripture teems with illustrations of the above.
· The judgment upon Korah and his party;
· the signal downfall of Haman;
· the disgrace which fell upon Nebuchadnezzar, “while the word (of arrogance) was in the king’s mouth;”
· the miserable end of Herod accepting honor due to God only; -
All these are proofs that the “proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord” (16:5). On the contrary,
· David’s humility in waiting was rewarded with a throne.
· Gideon who thought himself “least” in his father’s house” (Judg. 6:15), and
· St. Paul who owned himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8),
These were enabled to do a great and glorious work in their several ways.
“When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel”
The Lord Jesus, as a Child, sitting at the feet of His own creatures, saw all of them astonished by His wisdom.
An ancient writer said that the terrible thing about pride is that man was “not made for pride”. Yet it was man’s first sin, and is generally the last to be got rid of. It vanquished angels. To vanquish it the Son of God came down from heaven. Through His humiliation, man, prostrated by pride, ascends again to God. But what is pride? The thinking of oneself more highly than one ought to think. From this results the claiming of respect undue, the denying of that which is due. And this brings shame in time. It is expensive, and lands in ruin. It is contentious, and leads to reprisals. It is blind, and ere long stumbles. It is unbecoming, and calls down reproach. It is a complicated wickedness God hates and counterworks and takes the punishment of into His own hands. It touches His honor to humble it. And it is appropriately punished by ignominy, by error in counsel, by failure in event. “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” Through prosperity remissness follows, through carnal security encroachments. Never do we fall into a great sin but first there has been pride. Man hates it too - in others. All men cry shame upon pride. It attracts reproach, it courts confusion. How much wiser, safer, happier, to be humble! To whom hath God respect but to the lowly? Whom do men delight to honor but such as shrink from honor? Who so safe from downfall as they who shun the heights? Who so peaceful as they who have no ambition but to be good?