What does pride mean to you? Pride can be used in different ways, and carries different connotations. However, in this article, I discuss pride from a Biblical standpoint, and show how it relates to the Gospel.
Biblical pride in the Bible is very clearly a trait that is not admirable.
2 Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NLT)
18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NLT)
49 Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49 NLT)
There are a lot of examples in scripture. But why is pride such a flaw according to the Bible?
Since the garden of Eden and the fall from grace, humanity has been destined to sin, and it started with two people wanting to be like God. You probably know the story.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5 NLT)
So we see that it starts with mankind questioning God. When we start to question God and put our priorities above His, we have set ourself up to fail.
Of course, we know what happens next.
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (Genesis 3:6-7 NLT)
This passage is obviously very important, but it also speaks to our nature as human beings in a way that might help us to understand the Gospel on a new level. We want to be like God, or like gods, but when we do try to become like God, we become aware of our shortcomings. This parallels our relationship to the Law. When we try to become righteous by the Law, by our own power, we are destined to fall short and become exposed for our unrighteousness.
16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (Galatians 2:16 NLT)
20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3:20 NLT)
So when we live by the grace of God, similar to how Adam and Eve lived before the fall, we are righteous in His eyes. This is the basic principle of the Gospel.
At its roots, Christianity is about humility.
17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NLT)
We are to live by His power, and not exclusively of our own.
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[b]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 9-14 NLT)
When we set ourselves up above God, and believe that we can become righteous by our own strength, we are neglecting the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. It’s missing the point of the Gospel.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26 NLT)
Instead of trying to carry the burden on our own, we can rest it on Jesus. This is an amazing gift from God, and is fundamental to the Christian faith.
The question remains, then: why do we want to become like God? This doesn’t seem to be an animalistic trait. While animals (I believe) can feel proud, I think that their primary motives are driven by survival, not pride.
But our quest for dominance and power goes far beyond survival instincts.
As humans, however, we are called to be more than the animals. I guess while we are blessed in a way that animals aren’t, we are also given a curse that we must live with. The curse is pride, and our tendency to want to exalt ourselves.
I believe that our impulses are really derived from a very real temptation – self-gratification.
The world around us is obsessed with this gratification. Porn is an industry that feeds on people’s desires for quick pleasure. Casual sex seems more normalized than actual relationships. I think TV stars and athletes are treated more like gods than humans sometimes. I think that self-gratification is sold like never before. We are essentially being trained to worship things, but not God himself.
I guess that we all worship something, and the world sells things to worship. But as Christians, we are called to set our eyes on better things, heavenly things.
Moreover, we are asked to not be tainted by this world.
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Gifts/How to Live
So how should we live? Is it wrong to be good at something, and to recognize our abilities?
I believe we are given gifts, and we should recognize these gifts. Otherwise, I don’t think that we would be able to use them properly.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10 NLT)
We are called to use our gifts to bring out the glory of God.
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)
We should celebrate our gifts, but in a worthwhile way, not one that is purely temporary and self-indulgent.
I don’t think that feeling good about ourselves is a sin, but when that quest becomes an obsession centered around simple pleasure and dominance over others, and is a spring for jealousy, then we should check ourselves.
I guess it’s kind of a paradox. Instead of wanting to become like God the Father in His power and glory, we should strive to become like Jesus the Son, who showed humility, self-sacrifice, kindness, and compassion.
Jesus came to glorify God the Father and to do His will. I guess we should do the same. Once we humble ourselves, there are far greater treasures than materialistic goods that become apparent.
5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:5-7 NLT)
When we think about today, we should be humble and remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 NLT)
For me, leaving it up to God has served me better than any other plan I’ve had on my own.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NLT)
Let me know what you think, I would really like to get some feedback from anybody who reads the article. I’m trying to start writing and posting more, so if you have a topic you’d like to see an article on, feel free to reach out.
Also, always, if you need resources, prayer, or just someone to talk with, please shoot me a message.
Youversion Bible App
This is a section I want to add to in the following weeks, and will hopefully serve as a decent way to study for anybody interested in their subject, the Bible, or becoming closer with God.
There are examples in the Old Testament that I think might help portray God’s relationship to humility, and exemplify how we can glorify Him. I won’t go in to all of them right now, but if you want to get to know God better, I recommend checking these chapters out.
Here is some suggested reading:
Judges 7 (Gideon’s men going to battle)
Joshua 6 (Battle of Jericho)
2 Chronicles 1 (Solomon)