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Pride versus humility

 

What exactly is pride? It is having an opinion that you are more important or superior than those around you. This pride can be in the mind of the person or is displayed in his or her behaviour. 

What is humility? It is having a opinion that you are less important or inferior than those around you. This humility can be in the mind of the person or is displayed in his or her behaviour. 

God talks about pride. 

Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence;

whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. Psalm Ch.101:5

God also talks about humility. 

 

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah Ch.66:2 

When you read through the Bible a common theme is that we must avoid pride and take on humility as part of our character. 

Romans chapter 12:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. verse 3

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. verse 10

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. verse 16

Pride lures us into living independently of God 

There is an incompatibility between blind arrogance and the presence of God in our heart. 

“God isn’t watching” they say to themselves; “he’ll never know!”. Psalm 10:11 [1] 

The proud person depends on himself rather than on God. This causes God’s guiding influence to leave his life. When God’s presence is welcome, there is no room for pride. 

Pride can cut us off from God and others. 

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

 

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke Ch.18:9-14 

The Pharisee in Jesus parable did not go to the temple to pray to God but to announce to all within earshot how good he was. The tax collector went recognizing his sin and begging for mercy. Self-righteousness is dangerous. It leads to pride, causes a person to despise others, and prevents him or her from learning anything from God. Don’t let pride in your achievements cut you off from God. 

When is pride bad? 

Many people have different forms of pride. Some pride is regarded by God as being good and some as being bad. 

God sees pride as being bad when it is related to: 

a.    pride in appearance 

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 2 Corinthians Ch.5:12

b.     pride in riches 

They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. Ezekiel Ch.7:20 

Care needs to be taken to ensure we are not taking pride in riches

By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud. Ezekiel Ch.28:5 

c.      pride in comparing one with another 

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

1 Corinthians Ch.4:6 

 

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,

Galatians Ch.6:4 

 

d.          pride in things you have achieved 

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. Proverbs Ch.27:2 

Ephraim boasts, "I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin."

Galatians Ch.6:4

 

e.   boasting 

Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 1 Corinthians Ch.5:6 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians Ch.13:4 

For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16 

Usually when God speaks about pride he is referring to this bad pride. This type of human pride has one overriding characteristic – it is self-centred. 

When is pride good? 

Sometimes in the Bible pride is referred to as being good. 

God sees pride as being good when it is related to: 

a.   pride in God

My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Psalm 34:2 

but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. Jeremiah Ch.9:24

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians Ch.1:31 

b.   pride in others

as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. 2 Corinthians Ch.1:14 

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 2 Corinthians Ch.5:12 

I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. 1 Corinthians Ch.7:4 

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 2 Corinthians Ch.12:5 

c.   pride in self

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, Galatians Ch.6:4 

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

James Ch.1:9-10 

Pride in the work of God is praised in the Bible. It is okay to have a feeling of pleasure or pride in something well done for the work of God as long as you don’t compare yourself against other people.

Humility is essential for service to others

People today are eager to raise their social status, whether by being with the right people, dressing for success, or driving the right car. 

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke Ch.14:11 

Whom do you try to impress? Rather than aiming for prestige, look for a place where you can serve. If God wants you to serve on a wider scale, he will invite you to take a higher place. 

Humility is a deep awareness of unworthiness, not worthiness 

When we look at the vast expanse of creation, we wonder how God could be concerned for people who constantly disappoint him. 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4 

The next time you question your worth as a person, remember that God considers you highly valuable. Because God has already declared how valuable we are to him, we can be set free from feelings of worthlessness. 

When we look at creation, we often feel small by comparison. To feel small is a healthy way to get back to reality, but God does not want us to dwell on our smallness. Humility means proper respect for God, not self-depreciation.                                 

Increasing humility in your character 

The Bible tells of many ways to develop humility in your character. 

Helping someone who is sick or elderly

1. Help out someone else or do something good. No one else should find out about it. 

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew Ch.6:3-4

2.   Let someone else know about something

you regret doing in your life or are ashamed of. They may be able to help you improve yourself. 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 

3.   Compare your achievements in serving God with the achievements of Jesus or the apostle Paul. 

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians Ch.4:9 

4.   Do not praise yourself or talk about the things you have done for God. 

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. Proverbs Ch.27:2 

5.   Everything you do must be done to give glory to God and not your self. 

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians Ch.10:31 

6.   Boast about God and his power – not about yourself. 

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. Jeremiah Ch.9:23-24 

7.   Praise others all the time and consider them better than yourself 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Philippians Ch.2:3 

In summary, we need to think less about ourselves and more about God.

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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013