What Pride Is Not
One of the things about “pride” is that it is hard to define in the English language. It is one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism, and the Bible has some very bad things to say about it. But just what is pride? In the Biblical sense, it does not mean to feel a sense of satisfaction from your efforts; it is not referring to “being proud” of your kids for doing a good job at school (see 2 Cor. 7:4); it is not about the sense of gratification, fulfillment, joy, or pleasure derived from receiving rewards from hard work, or from other accomplishments. All of these things are harmless, natural feelings that come from reaping the rewards of your labor. No saint is going to be condemned for “pride” on the Day of Judgment for feeling happy that they have pleased Christ, after hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23). That is not pride in the “sin” sense of pride that the Bible often refers to; the idea is one of confidence and satisfaction from a job well done. That is not the sin of pride.
The Sin of Pride Defined
The Biblical sin of pride is better defined by words like haughtiness, snobbishness, and superiority.
Haughtiness – the appearance or quality of being arrogantly superior and disdainful; disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious (behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others; haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person, a look, or a facial expression (see Prov. 30:13); displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference); lofty; lordly; having a show of arrogance; thinking too highly of oneself in comparison to others; with haughty and naughty coming from the same root word.
Snobbishness – the character of a snob; mean-spirited, especially as it expresses itself in belittling, condescending comments and expressions towards others seen as below the snob’s caliber; a higher-than-you, elitist, snooty, aristocratic attitude that would give a look of disgust, disregard, and rejection of those considered lowlifes. Ignoring those considered below themselves, not so much as giving them the time of day.
Superiority – an attitude that attempts to gain dominance over others; to consider oneself as above others.
There are many ways that this “sin of pride” can come into play. I think that it mostly occurs over jobs and money. People love to brag about their good jobs as over and above the jobs of other lowlifes. They think of themselves as “winners” and others as “losers,” who don’t have “real jobs” like they do. They like to brag about their accomplishments as in condescending comparison to the low-quality jobs of others around them. They are obsessed with the facts that they are richer, more educated, more pretty, stronger, more talented, having the most impressive resume, and having a greater house, greater cars, and greater toys, and greater vacations than others they know about. They’re obsessive narcissists, egotistically obsessed with their financial success–you guessed it–as over and above other people they consider to have not come up to their level. This is the heart of this sin. It is a sin of comparison. It is a sin of looking down on people. It is a sin against other people, putting them down, even kicking them while they are down. Sure, its a personal sin. Sure, its a sin that dwells in the mind, and eventually spills out into words, facial expressions, and arrogant behavior. But its a social sin. If there were no other people in the world, then it would be impossible to commit the sin of pride. But because there are many people in the world, the prideful sense of accomplishment and financial success is likely going to damn your soul, unless you learn to impoverish yourself a bit, and get a sense of philanthropy and charity (1 Cor. 13). I don’t believe giving to a charitable organization is good enough, from the Biblical viewpoint. Matthew 25:31-46 suggests the need for hands-on interaction with the poor and suffering. Its about changing the way you prideful, immature, successful businessmen think about yourselves and others. Pride is immaturity. It is basically a childish way of handling financial, academic, athletic, or artistic success. Its an attitude that just doesn’t know how to handle all of that success; and so, it turns the rich man into a successful failure, who loses his integrity, and the respect of all the people he disdains with his snobbery. A few examples would be Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol; or Mrs. Oleson, the Victorian snob from Little House; or Cera, from The Land Before Time. Anyone who lives like this is in danger of Hell-fire, as will soon be proven from Scripture.
Scriptures Against the Sin of Pride
Job 33:14-18: “God does speak–now one way, now another–though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, He may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” Here it says that pride leads to the pit of Hell, if it is not sometimes warned against by dreams from God that lead to repentance.
Psalm 10:4: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” This is the atheist or at least the practical atheist or deist, who, although he may passingly acknowledge the creation of God, has no time for God in the sense of a personal spirituality or mysticism; God is not in all his thoughts; he does not abide in Christ; he does not fix his eyes on Jesus; he does not keep his mind stayed on God; he does not walk in the Spirit. He is a self-made man and most likely does not see the hand of God’s providence in his life.
Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” All these other sins naturally flow out of the lives of those who have haughty eyes, who look down on others, who look with disgust upon such peasants and losers and lowlifes; God hates that.
Proverbs 8:13: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Pride and arrogance are so evil that they should be hated by Christians.
Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” The prideful man considers himself wiser than all others, so when new information causes him to discover he is not all-knowing, he falls into disgrace; and then realizes that if he would have just been humble, coachable, and teachable, he might have learned a lot more, and become wiser.
Proverbs 13:10: “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Wisdom is later defined in Proverbs in terms of keeping God’s commandments; those who are prideful are wicked, as we have seen, and do not have God in all of their thoughts; they are fools, and are not wise in the Biblical sense; they refuse to take advice, because they like to think of themselves as people who are so wise that they are only in a position to give advice; in their minds, they have the culmination of all knowledge, they know better than others, who have poorer judgment than they; and because of this, when a new idea or view than theirs is expressed, especially something coming from the wise commandments of the Bible (Ps. 10:5), such prideful people are bound to “only breed quarrels” with those who introduce these new views to them.
Proverbs 16:18-19: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” This is where the popular expression comes from: “Pride goeth before a fall.” Why is this? Because God hates it when people have a proud, haughty spirit that looks down on others. Whatever it is that is making that man haughty, God will remove it from that man’s life, if He feels like it might contribute to his salvation. If a king is proud of his authority, God will depose him; if a CEO is haughty because of his company, then he will fall into scandal and financial ruin; if a pastor is haughty over how many church members he has in comparison to others, watch out, God might do something to destroy his ministry; if a chancellor is prideful over his college being the best, God might destroy his influence; if an employee prides himself in being the best, hardest worker on the team, and above all the rest, God might just get him fired. Its better to be lowly in spirit and thank God for all of His blessings to such a wretched, Hell-deserving sinner like yourself.
Proverbs 21:24: “The proud and arrogant man–‘Mocker’ is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.” Prideful people are in the habit of making fun of others whom they perceive to be not as well-bred, refined, rich, smart, good looking, and strong as they are. Prideful men are mockers. They love to bully, demean, and scoff at people who are “losers” in their eyes. The word “overweening” means excessively cocky, overconfident, overbearingly lofty, and high-minded. Pretty disgusting isn’t it? Its not hard to see why God opposes the proud (James 4:6).
Ezekiel 28:2: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’ But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.” Some theologians believe that the king of Tyre in this passage typifies Satan as with the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14. This being because they were both pagan kings and the visionary language takes a behind-the-scenes look at the prideful, demonic influence on them. Here it defines pride as having, 1. A prideful feeling in the heart. 2. A godlike attitude. 3. A throne loving attitude, to sit upon a throne, as in a fancy, luxurious office chair. 4. Thinking himself to be as wise as a god: pride of knowledge and education.