My grandmother was a proud woman.  I don’t mean that in the stoic, dignified kind of way.  I mean she was full of pride. My family always said she would cut off her nose to spite her face.  That kind of proud.  Although I loved my grandmother deeply, in some ways she became an example to me of what not to do if I wanted to live a happy life.

Our culture values pride — team pride, national pride, pride in accomplishments or looks, pride in social status or possessions, pride in our children’s accomplishments, and on and on.  Conversely, the Bible has much to say about pride as well. God opposes the proud (Jas 4:6).  God hates pride and arrogance (Pro 8:13).  Pride leads to disgrace (Pro 13:10).  God detests and punishes the proud (Pro 16:5).  Pride defiles us (Mar 7:20-23).  The original sin is pride (Eze 28:17; Isa 12:12-14).  The Bible also contains multiple references to the fact that God will humble those who exalt themselves (Mat 23:12 and others).  We can easily conclude from reading the Bible that pride is a really bad thing and not something we should value.

Honestly, no one likes the arrogant and prideful, except perhaps for their entertainment value.  We all expectantly wait for them to fall so that we can say, “That person got what they deserved” or “That person isn’t so great after all.”  We instinctively know that pride and arrogance are not to be valued. It is not loving your neighbor; it is loving yourself, usually at the expense of your neighbor.  We see the fall of the prideful as divine retribution and rightly so. The old expression “pride goeth before the fall” (Pro 16:18) speaks of the inevitability of the downfall of the prideful.  

Unfortunately, like all sin, pride leaves damage in its wake.  The guilty do not fall alone. Innocents are always affected by the sin of others.  For example, the death of John the Baptist was caused by a man’s pride. As the story goes in Matthew 14:1-12, John was imprisoned because he called out Herod for sinning with his brother’s wife, Herodias.  Pride in his reputation. Next, Herod had Herodias’ daughter dance for his birthday party. Pride in his associates. Since she pleased him, Herod offered her anything she wanted. Pride in his wealth. Finally, after she asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, he had it done for her.  Pride in his power. Herod’s pride was the direct cause of John’s death. It may seem like only a series of unrelated decisions, but each decision was motivated by Herod’s pride.

Pride is no different from any other sin, only more insidious.  Pride doesn’t usually manifest itself in most of us like Mohammad Ali shouting, “I’m the greatest!”  Many times, it remains hidden behind what appears to be a series of bad decisions. It lurks in the background waiting for a chance to rear its ugly head.  Even within myself, I find that my pride is largely locked within my own mind. It motivates what I do, or what I want to do, with no outward signs to betray me to the outside world.  You may not see it, and I may not even see it, but make no mistake, God sees it.  1 Chronicles 28:9 says “for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.”  Nothing escapes God, not even my innermost thoughts.

How do we escape the demise of the pride?  God tells us to be humble.

Humility is the topic of my next blog post.  Ahhh, the suspense!

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