A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (Proverbs 29:23, KJV). Without realizing it, pride plays a bigger role in limiting God in our lives than we would care to admit. Sadly, it also has been a major cause of a number non-believing people to face eternal judgment separated from God. Pride knows no boundaries, as everyone faces it in their life and on several occasions. What are some of the ways pride affects people and how do we combat it?
In the Lord’s Word against Edom, Obadiah three declares, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground (emphasis added)?” Pride has a way of lurking behind self-deception to cover up its true identity, thus making it possible for people to walk in pride without realizing it. Pride gives people a false perception of who they are in their minds, and false assessments of their circumstances. Pride is self-exaltation in action, even in those actions that would appear to be humble on the surface. For example, as the joke speaks volumes: “we are proud of our humility.” Some will act humble, but underneath the surface, they are looking for the accolades attached to it –“he is so humble!” As strange as it may sound, they want the glory for being humble. They act humble while they are actually looking for affirmation. One of the reasons those new to the faith should not be placed in leadership is pride: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6, KJV). Pride was the devil’s downfall, and the downfall of many that followed. Pride gives an assessment of the self by the self.
A lesson we can learn from Nebuchadnezzar when he was thrust out of his throne can be found in Daniel 5:20, “But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him (emphasis added).” Pride can harden our hearts and minds to God and the things of God. As one becomes more self-absorbed, one becomes less sensitive to God. If one becomes indifferent to spiritual matters, it may be time to examine the heart to see if he has been ensnared by pride. For example, there are some who did well in ministry because they were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, only to find failure because they became prideful as the result of “their success.” Sometimes the Lord will allow a person’s ministry to die in order for them to humble themselves, and realize they are only stewards of the Lord’s ministry. The ministry began in the flesh, but had to be crucified in order to raise it up in the Spirit. Such was the case with Nebuchadnezzar, before he could continue to rule as king, the Lord humbled him (see Daniel chapter four).
Pride does not allow for submission. Submission to another person requires humility. Because pride wants preeminence, it will not take the backseat to anyone. One example of this is found in 3John 9-10, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” Diotrephes wanted first place, and would cause division in the church as a result. “Only by pride cometh contention (arguments) . . . (Proverbs 13:10, KJV). Why do people argue? Pride. Church splits have been the result of too many people wanting the preeminence. They will not submit to those who have been placed in authority over them. Whether it is in the church, the home, or workplace, pride will cause contention at every turn.
We really need to realize that pride is not our friend. As an act of humility, we are to do all things as unto the Lord, which will result in excellence. Acts of humility will glorify God, especially since they are done on His terms. We have all heard or read the slogans, “Take pride in yourself,” or “Take pride in what you do.” Taking pride in whom we are or what we do glorify us, not God, especially because everything is on our terms. If we take pride in our “works for the Kingdom,” those works become dead works and have no eternal value or reward.
Pride makes no room for repentance. Repentance requires the ability to see one’s fault, which pride will not do. Hosea 7:10 says, “And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him for all this” (emphasis added, KJV). Since pride will never admit to wrongdoing, it will never repent. Self-deception strikes again!
True humility is the key to overcoming pride. As it is written, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10, KJV). It ties in with Matthew 16:24-25, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (KJV).