I remember years ago, when my son was in elementary school, trying to get him to put forth his best effort in the things in which he was involved. We had our little father-son talks, and I seemed to make progress, until one day I was trying to encourage him in the result of one of his tasks. I mentioned that he should be proud of his accomplishment. Now we all know it is hard to be corrected by our children and it makes parents uneasy, so what came next was no exception. Without giving his answer much thought, Ethan responded “But God says we are not to be proud.” Just as quickly, and with less thought than Ethan gave his response, I said, “That is a different kind of pride. God is talking about ‘tooting your own horn’ type of pride. I am talking about feeling good about your efforts and accomplishments knowing you have done your best.” I do not know where that thought came from, but it was not generated from my brain. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit puts words into our mouths when we are caught off guard and when we have no answers for people when we are questioned [Luke 12:111-12].
Too many times we as Christians can get caught up in the world’s philosophy of how important we are as humans. We begin to value our own self-esteem and become consumed by our self-image. Notice the common adjective in the two phrases, “SELF”. When used in this way the idea of self is exclusive of others, which includes excluding God [Isaiah 53:6]. This “self” idea goes against the grain of the greatest commandment which Jesus talked about as well as the commandment which comes in a close second [Mark 12:28-31]. We cannot be consumed with self and put God first and others second in our lives. No matter how we rationalize this thought of “self first” it just cannot be done. Self and pride are closely wound together. Satan became obsessed with his own esteem and image which lead him to pridefully think that he could supplant God as the supreme person of the created universe [Isaiah 14:12-14]. After his fall Satan proceeded with a plan to carry man down the prideful road of dissent and rebellion toward God, along with him. [2 Corinthians 11:3].
God is constantly reminding us to not think more of ourselves than we should [Romans 12:3]. He knows what pride will accomplish in our lives [Proverbs 29:23]. The first thing to consider is that a haughty prideful person cannot be saved. He neither sees nor acknowledges his sin [Hosea 5:15]. How can a man accept God’s offer of forgiveness when the man does not see the need to be forgiven? [Romans 3:20] He cannot bend his knee in reverence, nor can he bow in worship [Jeremiah 13:6-10].
Second, a prideful person is not a loving person [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]. There is no way that someone who is consumed with himself can show love to another. He might show empathy and pity toward someone, which might even result in some benevolent action, but love is nowhere to be found. True love, God’s love, is the giving of oneself to another [1 Corinthians 13:5].
Third, a prideful person is in opposition to God [1 Peter 5:5]. Even though a man may appear to be humble, his humility may simply be the evidence of an unrepentant and disbelieving heart.
The fourth thing about pride is that we harm ourselves [Deuteronomy 29:18-19]. It becomes the root of bitterness [Hebrews 12:15]. Our self-pride can cause us to hold others in contempt [Psalm 123:4]. We can hold grudges over things of non-importance. The stress and tension caused from these fractured relationships will eventually eat away at our inner being. So our pride brings on resentment not only toward others, but also toward God.
If our pride becomes puffed up it begins the slow process of killing us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. We have to be careful to remain humble in our accomplishments. We need to realize where the brains, ability, and strength came from in the first place. It is God who enables us and empowers us for accomplishments and not ourselves. As His creations we are sustained by God alone [Colossians 1:17]. Any pride we have should exalt and glorify our awesome God [1 Peter 2:12].