By Joe Duerr, PhD
From the Holman Bible Dictionary: “PRIDE 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.
“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 Timothy 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). This word refers primarily to the attitude of one’s heart. First Timothy 3:6; 6:4; and 2 Timothy 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.
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). 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 1:10 warns the rich against the temptation to be lifted up with pride because of their wealth.”
Pride shows no partiality—it can overtake the lowest of man to the most exalted. As long as we are in these bodies, we will never be immune and once we allow the evil that permeates our hearts to rule for even a brief moment, pride will consume us (Gen. 4:7).
Pride creeps in our thoughts and actions so quietly that we may scarcely notice its birth. Once it infests our thoughts, our actions become so self-focused that we ignore everything we have learned from Scripture even if we have been studying His Word for decades. We put the interests of others secondary and focus so much on proving ourselves right and just, we ignore the disease spreading through our veins. How easy we can fall!
Much like how light does not exist in total darkness, humility does not exist in a prideful person. The fall will come, but unfortunately much damage can be done in the interim. Relationships that once thrived in God’s light are suddenly thrust into the worldliness of sin, all because of pride was born in either one or both of the parties.
There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible regarding pride. If pride has you in its grasp, please meditate on these verses, pray to God for forgiveness, and seek restitution with those you have hurt.
Below are a few verses I’ve selected:
Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 16:5 - Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 16:18–19 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Proverbs 26:12 - Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Matthew 23:12 - Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Romans 12:16 - Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Galatians 6:3–4 - For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
James 4:6–7 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 5:5–6 - Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1 John 2:16 - For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.