Scripture warns in many places about the danger of pride. Pride is always associated with wickedness because it really is a cover up for our failures and insecurities. In Psalm 73:6 the writer suggests that to the wicked “Pride serves as their necklace”. A necklace is a jewelry that enhances the neck while taking away attention on a person’s others qualities that may not be so attractive.
Similarly, a proud person will dwell on their achievements, looks, power or whatever it is that makes them proud because it covers their weaknesses. Some it is the pride of being born in a wealthy family or a privileged class or country but the familiar thing is the assumption that one is better than others.
Yahshua, (Jesus Christ) also taught of pride that arises out of self righteousness. In the parable of two people who prayed, Jesus showed how pride can make us blind to the condition of our hearts. It can lead to stagnation of faith in the assumption that you know it all. The Pharisee was so full of his works and considered himself better than “other men- extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this tax collector” because he “fasted twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” Luke 18:11-12.
The tax collector on the other hand did not consider himself deserving God’s mercy and so approached the throne of God with a different attitude. All he could do was raise his eyes to heaven while beating his chest saying “God be merciful to me a sinner!” The tax collector according to Yahshua was more justified before God than the Pharisee “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” Luke 18:13-14.
Pride causes strife because pride makes one refuse to accept their mistake or ask for help when necessary. To say “I was wrong” or “I need help” requires humility and to some people that is a mark of weakness. The writer of the book of Proverbs says “by pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom”, Proverbs 13: 10. Pride stirs up conflict and divides people because none of us can be a hundred percent right all the time and none of us can know everything.
If you find yourself constantly arguing with others, perhaps it is time to examine yourself and be open to listen to what others have to say. It is okay, in fact noble, to ask for help and to ask for forgiveness when you know you have erred. It would be nice if you could ask someone you trust whether self satisfaction has blinded you to the reality of your life.
Dealing with pride can help us avoid a fall which is bound to happen, if it has not already happened. Speaking to the Israelites about their sins, God indicates that the sins that destroyed Sodom was that “she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me: therefore I took them away as I saw fit” Ezekiel 16: 48-49.
Pride makes us assume we are beyond reproach or untouchable. We may ignore the needs of others because we judge others as lazy, useless, deserving the injustices or misfortunes that befall them. We create our own rules and do what pleases us because pride makes us insensitive. Unfortunately for Sodom, God completely destroyed the city for its wickedness, Genesis 19:24-25. God always resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble, Proverbs 3:34. Soon we are bound to tumble down from the high place we have elevated ourselves to a lowly place of humility.
Pride can also signify carnality or worldliness because the person who is proud is focused on worldly values to promote his/her ego and to undermine others. Such a person can actually start believing they are super human and immortal. John in his epistle writes “— all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but it is of the world” 1 John 2:16.
Pride has its root from an attitude of superiority which is externalized by behaviour. The lust of the flesh is characterized by a preoccupation with satisfying physical desires; the lust of the eyes, by craving of things and accumulating things we do not need, in other words idolizing the god of materialism; while the pride of life is characterized by one’s status or importance. Most people are in debt today because of such an attitude or trying to keep up with the Jones’s.
Eve’s temptation at the Garden of Eden were in the three areas mentioned above. These are the areas that determine our values. It is not surprising that Satan tempted Jesus in the same areas before commencement of His ministry on earth, Mathew 4:3-10. These are the areas to be concerned about and guard against the enemy and instead focus on the eternal.
Living a life of Humility
We can avoid falling into pride and the consequences thereof by choosing a humble life which brings contentment. Peter in his epistle urges the believer to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” 1Peter 5:6. God is able and willing to bless us according to His timing.
Hannah was constantly provoked by her co- wife Peninnah who had children while Hannah did not have any. Hannah continued to humble herself before God in prayers and eventually God in His timing gave her children, the first of which was Prophet Samuel. Hannah did not try to avenge herself for Penninah’s torment but left it to God. In her prayer she says “talk no more so very proudly; Let not arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” 1 Samuel 2:3.
Do not focus on your current situation and start comparing yourself with others that you assume are doing better than you. Learn to be content in whatever situation you are in and wait on the Lord to deliver to you what is due to you at the appropriate time. The Psalmist writes of his contentment “like a weaned child with his mother” because his “heart is not haughty” and “neither does he concern” himself with matters too big for him, Psalm 131:1-2.
Pride makes us restless because we are always wondering whether someone else has acquired or achieved more than us. Humility makes us put others first and gain contentment with what God has provided and with His leading in our lives. We no longer feel the need to prove ourselves to others because we are secure in our relationship with God and we trust Him.
To protect ourselves from pride, we need to ask God to carry out exploratory surgery of sins in our lives. David Prayed, “search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.
David’s prayer shows a trust in God in recognition that only He truly knows the condition of our hearts. David even asks God to search his thoughts, because sin starts with a thought. My prayer is that we can make this our prayer and when God reveals the sin, let us repent of it and receive forgiveness for “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9