Getting Rid of Pride

What is pride? The American Heritage Dictionary defines pride as conceit or arrogance; having too high an opinion of oneself; excessively and unpleasantly self-important. No one likes to think of himself as arrogant, but all of us are. The book of Proverbs seems to imply that a prideful person trusts in himself and not in God. Even if God is gracious enough to give us some measure of wisdom, even the wisdom of Solomon is only a speck of dust compared to the depth of God's wisdom which created this universe and holds it together. All true wisdom comes from God (James 1:5), and even if we are highly skilled or talented in some area, this talent or skill also comes from God (Ex. 35:31). We tend to be prideful of what we're good at; we seek to build ourselves up so that others will think highly of us (Prov. 27:2). But whenever we boast in our own accomplishments, we are seeking glory for ourselves and not for God (Prov. 25:27).

Another word for pride is insolence, which is rude and disrespectful. Humility, as defined by Philippians 2, regards others as more important than oneself. A humble person respects what someone else has to say and does not presuppose that his opinion is always the right one. Someone who believes he is always right is arrogant. Only God is always right. Putting oneself above others, therefore, is not only disrespectful and rude, but it is also wrong.

According to Proverbs 14:16, fools are arrogant and careless, and not cautious. This is because they don't take time to think through what someone has said, or to cautiously analyze a situation before taking action. If we naturally trust in our own understanding, we will not even think to pray about each situation and wait for God to give wisdom. Many of us pray before decisions, but then lean on our own understanding instead of waiting for God's wisdom. Many times the wisdom comes through silence as we are in an attitude of prayer and openness to do something we don't want to do. Wisdom is often the opposite of what we naturally want to do! If we are not willing to set aside our own understanding, we will never truly be wise.

How does God feel about our pride? He hates it! It is an abomination to Him (Prov. 6:17; 16:5). He equates evil with pride (Prov. 11:2): “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (NASB) God will tear down the house of the proud (Prov. 15:25), and He will not leave the proud unpunished (Prov. 16:5).

What other horrors await the prideful? The prideful will be brought to dishonor (Prov. 11:2; 15:33; 29:23). An example is given to us in Proverbs 25:6-7 when a man claims honor for himself, but is then put lower in front of everyone else. Pride comes before a fall (Prov. 16:18); a haughty person will stumble and be destroyed. He will stir up strife (Prov. 28:25), and people of understanding will see through him (Prov. 28:11).

“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin.” (Prov. 21:4) A lamp is something that illumines and guides. God's Word is supposed to be our lamp (Ps. 119:105), not our own understanding of a situation. We are to be guided by God's Word and God's Holy Spirit within us that can lead us to the truth, not by our own prideful heart.

There is more hope for a fool than for a man with a proud heart (Prov. 26:12). The Proverbs fool is hopeless, and everything he does leads ultimately to death (Prov. 16:25). Satan's only vice in heaven was pride, and that was enough to get him thrown out of heaven. Anyone who is prideful in heart is like Satan, who parades like an angel of light, trying to puff himself up.

May we always take pride seriously and repent of it. Let other people praise us (Prov. 27:2), and not our own lips. If we have been foolish in exalting ourselves, let us put our hand to our mouth in silence (Prov. 30:32). If we do boast, let us boast in our weaknesses so that we can always see ourselves in a right perspective before God. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked – who can know it? (Jer. 17:9) We are not even aware of most of our sin; we don't even want to know it because getting rid of it requires pain (acknowledgment with God in His grief over it) and self-discipline (continually crucifying that sin every day for the rest of our lives.) It is too much work for most of us to be constantly alert and vigilant over sin; but as soon as we are lax about our daily crucifixion of flesh, we will revert back to our prideful, stubborn ways. May God have mercy as we humble ourselves before Him!