The Poison of Pride
According to National Geographic, the Pufferfish can inflate itself into a ball shape to evade predators. Also known as a blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size …
But these blow-up fish aren’t just cute. All pufferfish contain “tetrodotoxin” a toxic substance that makes them foul tasting and potentially deadly to other fish. The toxin is also deadly to humans, in fact, 1200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is enough poison in one pufferfish to kill at least 30 people, and there is no known antidote.
Like Pufferfish, a person can “blow themselves up” with pride, ego and arrogance so they look and act bigger than they are. And this pride can become highly toxic to a marriage, to family and friends, and business relationships – and in the church. It’s no wonder British Bible teacher, John Stott once said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
Stott’s succinct statement goes straight to the heart of what the Bible teaches about the deadly root of our sins, problems and troubles.
Luke 18:11-12 (TLB) The proud, self-righteous Pharisee prayed this prayer: “Thank God, I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give to God a tenth of everything I earn.”
Self-glorification is the mantra of proud people: “Look at me, look at who I am, look at what I’m doing.”
The Peril of Pride
Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the one who has it.
Luke 14:11 (NCV) Jesus said, “All who make themselves great will be made humble.”
Hubristic pride is a common trademark amongst most politicians. Those who indulge in it tend to be narcissistic, cocky, and manipulative and are essentially bullies. Always assuming they know more, and know better than anyone else, their behavior reflects a smug self-righteousness and the vainglorious belief that “only they” have the solutions, the strength and superiority to be in control of others’ lives.
“He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle!”
– William Shakespeare
More than anything else God loathes hubristic pride and will eventually bring it down. Consider the biblical example of three Kings…
2 Chronicles 26:15-16 (MSG) After Uzziah became a famous king… success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, he fell.
Daniel 5:20 (MSG) Nebuchadnezzar developed a big head and a hard spirit. Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame.
Acts 12:23 (MSG) God had had enough of Herod’s arrogance and sent an angel to strike him down. King Herod had given God no credit for anything. Down he went. Rotten to the core, he died.
God is very specific. He hates pride. In fact, it is at the top of His list of sins that He most despises:
Proverbs 8:13 (NLT) God says, “I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech!”
A person can fall victim to pride for several reasons:
- Deep-seated insecurity and feelings of inadequacy
- Immaturity and an inability to handle responsibility
- Narcissistic personality
- Inability to handle wealth, position and success
When a spirit of pride rules we believe we’re always right, and more important and better than other people. Pride never admits its failures. Instead, the prideful person blames others and continues to push forward, blindly seeking self-gratification.
“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful!”
– Ann Landers
Pride exalts self and not God. Instead of God receiving the glory for our lives, we seek praise and glory for ourselves.
Viper in the Heart
The Revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, called pride “the worst viper that is in the heart” and “the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ.” He ranked pride as the most difficult sin to root out, and “the most hidden, secret and deceitful of all lusts.”
Pride was the first sin that ever entered into the universe and the reason for Lucifer’s transformation into Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15). Of all the sins listed in God’s Word, pride is the most destructive.
Proverbs 6:16-17 (AMP) The Lord hates a proud look, (the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others).
Specific warning signs tell us when a spirit of pride is ruling our lives. While the list is long, it certainly includes the following obvious traits:
- Fixation to be number one or first
- Overinflated sense of self-importance
- Feelings of superiority and snobby behavior
- Refusal to accept or listen to the advice of others
- Spirit of rebellion
- Obsessive need to be the center of attention
- Sense of entitlement
- Willingness to “use people” and take advantage of others
Pride is at the root of all sin according to the Bible (Isaiah 14:12-14), and it’s no accident that “I” is at the center of the word “sIn.” Pride in a person leads him to make exaggerated claims and to ensure he is recognized, honored and celebrated for what he does.
“Make no mistake about it: pride is the great sin. It is the devil’s most effective and destructive tool!”
– C.S. Lewis
Pride is openly on display by someone who is “puffed up” and stands on his own self-created pedestal and puts himself above others. It’s always chasing power, prestige, and position and self-glory.
Pride has many faces. For this reason, God cautions us to be vigilant in our stand against it. If you are more interested in living life your way than you are in pleasing God, then you are dealing with pride and eventually it leads to ruin (Proverbs 29:23).
“Embrace your nothingness: Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Pride is thinking you are more important than others, better than others or above others because of your name, your accomplishments, your abilities, your knowledge, your position in society or your wealth.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
God hates pride because it shifts the glory from Him to us, and we are not the ones who need to be exalted and honored. Anything good we have or accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling us, blessing us and sustaining us.
1 Corinthians 4:7 (TLB) What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?
Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Every good thing you have is a gift from God… You wouldn’t be able to take your next breath if God didn’t give it to you.
Pride is God dethroned, and self-enthroned! Pride shuts out grace because it walks in self-sufficiency.
Pride is the sin that caused the Pharisees to reject Jesus as their Messiah and crucify Him instead. God wants humility, and He opposes stinking pride! Humility is total dependency on God.
Why Pride Is Nothing to Be Proud Of
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a handsome young man who caught sight of his reflection in a pond. Gazing in adoration at his own beauty and magnificence he fell in love with his own image, toppled into the water and drowned!
Narcissus died a lonely, self-absorbed death, consumed in the end by his own self-infatuation.
Narcissism is an excessive love for oneself, an unbounded admiration of self. It’s all about “Me, Myself, and I.” It is self-love wrapped up in pride, ego and vanity.
Narcissists see every situation in terms of how it affects and benefits them. Ruled by self-centered, ulterior motives they never see their problems as a result of their own actions, but glibly excuse their behavior and constantly blame others. Biblically, the root of narcissism is pride and idolatry of self.
Isaiah 2:11 (NLT) Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted.
Proud people are self-conscious and concerned with what others think; they constantly strive hard to protect their own image and reputation.
Proud people are defensive; swift to pass the buck and blame others.
Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Proud people have to prove that they are always right – well expressed by the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way.”
The book of Proverbs explicitly tells us what God thinks about pride and its serious consequences…
Proverbs 6:16-17 (AMP) The LORD hates a proud look.
Proverbs 8:13 (NLT) The LORD hates pride and arrogance.
Proverbs 11:2 (NLT) Pride leads to disgrace.
Proverbs 13:10 (TLB) Pride leads to arguments.
Proverbs 15:25 (NKJV) The LORD will destroy the house of the proud.
Proverbs 16:5 (TLB) Pride disgusts the LORD.
Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) Pride goes before destruction.
Proverbs 18:12 (NIV) Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud.
Proverbs 28:25 (NKJV) He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife.
Proverbs 29:23 (NLT) Pride ends in humiliation.
Pride handicaps our relationship with God. God tells us in His Word that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot be loyal to Him and be self-centered and self-serving.
There is only one person who is worthy of all our praise, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He saved us from sin, showered us with His grace, gave us eternal life and without Him we have nothing!
Shamefully, many believers today are so wrapped up and focused on themselves that they hardly mention or talk about the Lord at all. Our real problem is the colossal difference between our perspective and God’s viewpoint…
- We look at the outward; God looks at the inward.
- We value popularity; God values character.
- We look at intelligence; God looks at the heart.
- We honor those with money; God honors those with integrity.
- We talk about what we own; God talks about what we give away.
- We boast about those we know; God notices those we serve.
- We list our accomplishments; God looks for a humble heart.
- We value education; God values wisdom.
- We love size; God notices quality.
- Our view is temporary; God’s view is eternal.
Romans 12:3 (Phillips) Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance.
Pride hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we become prideful, God’s strength and ability, wisdom and discernment within our lives fades.
James 4:6 (NLT) God opposes the proud but favors the humble.
Pride encourages us to be puffed up and rely upon ourselves. We begin to make foolish and foolhardy decisions because we no longer have God’s clear direction and wisdom available.
Discerning people know the difference between right and wrong. They can sense the protection and presence of the Holy Spirit forewarning: “Stop!” “Wait!” or “Slow down!” But the prideful person never gives an ear to God’s instruction and reaps the painful consequences.
How to Kill Pride Before It Kills You
Pride is our greatest single problem, and the most pernicious problem! The Bible tells us that “pride goes before destruction.” If we do not turn back from the way of pride, our end will be destruction.
#1: Ask God to forgive you for the sin of pride.
God alone is worthy to receive honor, glory, and praise. But pride tries to hijack it for ourselves. Self-promotion, self-congratulation, hubris, selfish motives, an exaggerated ego, cockiness, self-trust and not trusting in the Lord are all things we have been guilty of.
“Let us watch against pride in every shape – pride of intellect, pride of wealth, pride of our own goodness. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of heaven, and prevent him from seeing Christ, as pride. So long as we think we are something we shall never be saved. Let us pray for and cultivate humility; let us seek to know ourselves correctly, and to find out our true place in the sight of a holy God.”
– J.C. Ryle
Before you can deal with pride, you must acknowledge it (1 John 1:9). You do not have to continue living in a state of pride. In a definite act of repentance bow your knee to the Lord, and turn away from this toxic sin that is separating you from Him.
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Let the Lord know that you do not want anything in your life that would be a barrier or block your relationship with Him or prevent you from experiencing His best.
#2: Remember where you came from and how far God has brought you.
Many times, we begin our Christian walk well. Our focus is set on God, and our hearts are fully committed to Him. Then gradually without warning, pride begins to rise up, preventing us from being all God wants us to be by blinding us to His will and His ways.
The spirit of pride tempts us to believe that we know better than God does. It tempts us to believe we can handle everything and assume we are a “self-made” success… and so, we carelessly forget God and His awesome grace and blessing in our lives. We fail to give God the honor and the glory!
Psalm 106:21 (NIV) They forgot the God who saved them, who had done such great things.
Many of our problems result from pride operating in our lives, but people often fail to realize this. They become prideful over the many good things that God has given them – thriving careers, families, children, educational accomplishments, beautiful neighborhoods, financial and personal success and much more.
Psalm 103:2 (NASB) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.
We can get so self-absorbed that we forget how far the Lord has brought us … It’s time to remember how He has blessed you.
Remember where He found you. Remember how He saved you, delivered you and wrote your name down in the book of life (Luke 10:20; Revelation 21:27).
Remember the mighty work the Lord has done in your life and the great salvation He has given you.
#3: Humble yourself and choose to walk the path of humility.
Pride can only be cured by humility. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God will make us humble. God always puts the responsibility upon us to humble ourselves. It is a decision of faith that we have to make.
James 4:10 (NASB) Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Matthew 23:12 (NASB) Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
- Humility is the quality of unpretentious behavior which recognizes one’s own weakness while at the same time recognizing God’s all sufficient grace, power and supernatural enablement.
- Humility understands the key difference between leaning upon self-sufficiency and learning to lean upon the Lord.
- Humility recognizes and constantly acknowledges our habitual need of God’s grace, God’s help and God’s strength.
“Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it!”
– Andrew Murray
God resists the proud the Bible says in James Chapter 4. Why does God oppose the proud? It’s because proud people oppose God by putting themselves in the place of God.
Proud people are “rebels” they choose their own path and “do their own thing.” Pride is to be self-dependent and thinking more of yourself than what you actually are!
John 3:30 (NKJV) He must increase, but I must decrease.
The only solution to the dangers of pride is a spirit of humility – all we are and all we have is because of Jesus and the result of God’s amazing grace – what do we have to be proud about?
#4: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
A grateful heart is a humble heart! Thankfulness is one of the best ways to defuse a spirit of pride and conceit.
As a child of God, do you regularly count your blessings and are you sincerely grateful for the many wonderful ways God has blessed your life?
Psalm 106:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
I believe we frequently fail to really appreciate our blessings and we neglect or forget to thank God for all the amazing things He has done in our lives. Or else we fall into the trap of feeling others have a better situation than we do, the “grass is greener syndrome” and we focus on what we don’t have, instead of all the glorious blessings God has freely given to us.
Psalm 126:3 (NIV) The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
The grateful heart stays close to God! Start every day the right way, with an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful and thankful to God for His amazing grace and His goodness in your life.
Pride is the destroyer! It ruins lives and it does not belong in the life of any believer.