Pride And Humility In The Bible

Pride and humility in the bible: what is it about pride that trips us up? Is there good pride and bad pride?

We've all heard the saying that pride goeth before the fall. What is it about pride that is so attractive? What is it about pride that trips us up? Is there good pride and bad pride? What does the Bible say about pride?

Pride is a conceited superiority. It is a part of our mind that tells us we are better than, greater than, more important than, more deserving than or more qualified than anyone else. It is an arrogance that deceives us and tries to make us believe that we don't need God or others, we only need ourselves. Pride was the sin of Adam. When he took the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge from Eve, he knew what he was doing. He wanted to be the equal of God and already believed he knew better than God.

Another face of pride is self-righteousness "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." (Luke 18:11) Self-righteousness is the arrogance that says, "My way is right, no other way is right." It's setting oneself above others and proclaiming oneself as better than others.

Pride hardens the mind and refuses to hear the wisdom of anyone. It closes us off from others and from God; it rejects all other wisdom. This closed mindedness brings consequences. "But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:" (Daniel 5:20) Egotistical stubbornness demands a price and that price is often steep.

There are many spiritual consequences to pride. It retards our spiritual progress. Pride says, "God, I can do this better than you." Or, "God, I can take care of this, I don't need your help." This kind of attitude keeps us from the intimate relationship that God wants to have with us. "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him." (Proverbs 26:12) Pride throws up a wall between God and us and rejects His help and guidance.

Rejecting God's help and direction hinders our spiritual growth, making us less useful to Him. "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." (Psalms 10:4) Rejecting God also hinders His ability to bless us. When were disobedient children, our parents didn't reward us for that disobedience. So it is with God. When we refuse His direction, leaning on our own arrogance, we are like disobedient children and cut ourselves off from His rewards.

Arrogance and pride that run on for a lifetime unchecked lead to the hardening of the heart that condemns those who refuse to accept anything greater than themselves. When pride becomes so engrained as to be habit, it takes devastating circumstances to overcome it. Pride blackens the soul, making it an ugly thing to behold even to the owner of that soul. Many a person has come to the end of a lifetime and discovered a terrible fear of what lies beyond this physical life. While there is breath in us, it's not too late to repent of any sin, but so much life has been wasted on the belief that we are a power unto ourselves.

One only has to look at the miracle of the human body to realize that a genius beyond man is at work in the universe. So intricate and complex the body is and so easily it operates. Most of our functioning requires no thought at all. With all of human intellect combined through the centuries, we have not come close to creating the miracle that is our own body. The very best we can do is copy it using the creation itself as the starter. What arrogance it takes to believe that it was all cosmic accident that created us, and a greater arrogance still to believe that we can master all of creation.

It is this kind of pride that leads to ruin and the damnation of the soul. It's not God's will or doing that anyone should be damned, but the mind that continually denies anything greater than self chooses that damnation. "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) Pride brings us such misery. Why are we so attracted to the idea of the supreme self?

I believe that arrogance and pride are the vain attempt to fill a hole left by a lack of self-worth. Self-worth is something much different than pride. It's the comfortable knowledge that we have been gifted with talents that are useful and please God and other people. A rapier wit or a gift for painting, a way with people or a knack for cooking, all of us have God-given talents that when practiced can astound. Self-worth recognizes these talents as having value with out the need to make them seem better than anyone else's talent.

What is that thing that drives us to need to feel better than others? I suspect it is an obsessive need to be loved. The very nature of pride says, "I don't need you." This drives people and God away, leaving the proud alone and lonely. Not just humanly lonely, but spiritually lonely, too. This cripples the spirit and drives it deeper into pride. It is almost as if the proud spirit is crying out desperately for us to notice it is special when we already knew that it was. It's the owner of the proud spirit that doesn't know and can't seem to understand that indeed he is special, but not better than the rest of us.

And before we all get a little puffed up with the idea that "˜we're not like that!' lets remember that we all are like that to one degree or another. No human has driven pride completely out. Many of us have our own little hidden prides. Hidden prides can be the most dangerous kinds of all because they are often disguised as what we believe to be virtues.

It is easy to recognize the big prides, the ones that say, "I'm bigger than, better than, more than, smarter than, wiser than anyone else. " Inverted pride is a hidden pride that says, "˜I'm less than, worse than, uglier than, more useless than anyone else." This kind of pride is disguised as the virtue of humility but it's not humility at all. This too is a deflated self-worth but this one says that God made me wrong. God doesn't do anything wrong. It is we that warp what He has made so perfectly. There are many kinds of hidden pride and our job is to sniff them out and be rid of them. They are no better than the visible prides and will do the same kinds of damage to our spirits.

Pride is a difficult thing. Most often we use the word pride where we really mean value. We tell our children, "I'm proud of you." We really mean, "you have great value to me." All of us want to be valuable and loved but when we become so desperate for these things, we often develop an unhealthy pride to mask our desperation. What we really must understand is that no matter what anyone thinks of us, God loves us and made us just right. We are not perfect by any means but we are all gifted. He knows it; we must learn it and get beyond the need to let everyone know about it. Focus instead on thanking God for the great job He did.

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