What is pride?
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What is pride and why is it bad?

The Bible condemns proud men and women in the strongest terms (Proverbs 16:5). This is because human pride directly undermines everything God created us to be.

God made us “in His image” (Genesis 1:27): we are like mirrors, and our purpose in life is to turn toward God in love (Mark 12:30) and reflect His glory to the world (Psalm 115:1). The opposite of this is sin: turning away from God (Romans 3:10-12), so that we don’t reflect God’s glory any more (Romans 3:23).

Pride: turning away from God

Why would humans turn away from God? Part of the answer is pride: our desire not to praise God (1 Corinthians 1:31), but to boast about ourselves (Philippians 3:4-9); not to promote God’s name (Matthew 6:9), but to make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4). Satan appealed to human pride in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5), and throughout the Bible there are countless more examples of people taking pride in things rather than in God. We take pride in our wealth (Deuteronomy 8:13-14); in our jewellery (Ezekiel 7:20); in our salary (Ezekiel 28:5); in our health and strength (Psalm 73:4-6); in our beauty (Ezekiel 28:17); in our power (2 Chronicles 26:16); in our successes (Psalm 140:8) and in our victories (2 Chronicles 25:19). But instead of humbly thanking God for all these good gifts (Romans 1:21), we proudly refuse to respond to His kindness (2 Chronicles 32:24-25) and instead try to take for ourselves the credit for what God has done in and through us (Isaiah 10:12-15; 37:23-26).

Proud people have no interest in listening seriously to God and obeying what He commands them (Leviticus 26:18-19), because they have put their confidence in themselves (Isaiah 9:9-10). Rather than seeking God or even thinking about him (Psalm 10:4), proud people act as though they themselves sit on God’s throne (Ezekiel 28:2), assuming that God is powerless to stop their plans (2 Kings 19:10-13, 22).

Pride deceives

Pride, however, deceives us (Jeremiah 49:16) and corrupts our wisdom (Ezekiel 28:17): all our proud boasts are empty (Isaiah 16:6). When we turn away from God seeking freedom to live life our own way, we are quickly enslaved to false gods and to our own stubborn desires (Jeremiah 13:9-10). The results are catastrophic. First, since God designed us as mirrors to reflect the One we worship (Psalm 115:8), when we swap the glorious God for an unworthy substitute (Romans 1:21-23) we increasingly degrade ourselves (Romans 1:24-32). But second, and even worse: since God is worthy of our worship, when we proudly turn away from Him we insult Him and invite His punishment for our faithlessness and disloyalty (Isaiah 2:12-18). Pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and the Bible is full of examples of how God may even bring this destruction in this life, upon individuals (e.g. Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4; Haman – Esther 5-7) and upon nations (Tyre – Isaiah 23:9; Babylon – Isaiah 13:19; Moab – Jeremiah 48:29-47; Edom – Obadiah 1:3; Egypt – Ezekiel 32:12; Assyria – Zechariah 10:11; Philistia – Zechariah 9:6; Israel – Amos 6:8).

Pride vs humility

The opposite of pride is humility (Proverbs 11:2) that trusts in the LORD (Zephaniah 3:11-12) and obeys His word (Isaiah 66:2). Abraham is a good example of this kind of humble faith (Hebrews 11:8-12). Unlike people who work hard to build their own reputation (Genesis 11:4), Abraham trusted God to make his name great if he simply obeyed Him (Genesis 12:2). God richly rewarded Abraham’s faith: through Abraham’s descendants came the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, through His own perfect humility, brought blessing for all nations of the earth (Romans 3:21-24), just as God had promised Abraham in the beginning (Genesis 12:3)! Stooping down from heaven itself (Philippians 2:5-11), the Son of God humbly washed the feet of sinners (John 13:1-11) and freely gave His life for those who were His enemies (Romans 5:10). In this way, God showed us how much He loves us (John 3:16), so that we could learn to trust Him again (Romans 8:31-39), surrender our pride (Mark 8:34-38), and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3).

Forgiveness of pride

Today, Jesus freely offers the gift of forgiveness to all who will humbly receive it like a little child (Mark 10:13-27). Ask God for the gift of faith, so that you can learn to humbly trust God, and so enter into fullness of life (John 10:10) for which God created you in the very beginning: a life overflowing with joy, because we no longer boast of our own proud achievements for God, but instead, of God’s humble achievement, in Christ, for us (Galatians 6:14).

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Biblword is a ministry of GlobalRize. Marten Visser is the founding director of GlobalRize. Marten is a pastor from The Netherlands with long years of experience as a missionary in Thailand. We now have around 550 people from all over the world involved in GlobalRize’s ministry. Besides the English page, Biblword also exists in 25 other languages on Facebook.

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