Struggling with Pride


“The Great Sin”

In one episode of the Big Bang Theory, Raj accuses Sheldon of arrogance. While funny, the clip aptly illustrates the pride and arrogance constantly oozing out of Sheldon. Perhaps, like me, you find Sheldon’s arrogance amusing because, well, you can relate yet remain certain your own arrogance pales in comparison.

While we can laugh at others prideful antics on television, we also must admit to the reality of pride’s severe impact on culture. And it’s not at all funny.

Consider the following all-to-real examples of pride:

  • Politicians pursuing personal agendas.
  • Business and financial catastrophes like WorldCom and Enron.
  • Attention-seeking TV & music entertainers.

Pride exists abundantly within Christianity too. Stories of pastors living in extravagance and debauchery along with the many examples throughout Scripture tell the tale well.

Pride touches every aspect of life and culture throughout history. And while the widespread preoccupation with self continues making light of pride and even seemingly promoting it, as Christians we cannot consider pride humorous at all. In fact, we must consider it, as C.S. Lewis did, “the great sin.”

An “Anti-God State of Mind”

Seeing pride in others is easy, but seeing it in ourselves… not so much. Consider what Lewis says to ask yourself to find out if pride is a problem for you:

“How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?”

Our annoyance and frustration with others too often points to our own problem with pride by revealing a desire to elevate ourselves in some way above others. Pride is very much a struggle of the competitive nature within every one of us.

Lewis describes the struggle it this way:

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud, the pleasure of being above the rest.”

Pride, as Lewis describes it, creates an “anti-God state of mind,” living within us as a “spiritual cancer.”

The Pharisee & The Tax Collector

The story Jesus told about a Pharisee and a Tax Collector proves Lewis’ point well. Please take a minute to reacquaint yourself with the passage found in Luke 18:9-14.

The Pharisees words and actions show that pride involves:

  1. Thinking we have any merit in our own abilities.
  2. Seeing others with contempt and disrespect.
  3. Placing ourselves above others.

Lewis’s describes this “anti-God state of mind” with these words:

“In God you come up against something that is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know your-self as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

The words and actions of the tax collector, however, give us a needed view of humility. The tax collector stands at a distance and shows that he knows he is a sinner and in need of God’s mercy and grace. He can’t even look at God because of the contrast between God’s holiness and the man’s own sin.

Identifying Pride

Fortunately, Scripture provides the necessary instruction for identifying pride in our lives.

  1. Ask God to reveal your pride. We must ask God to show us our pride, because we likely won’t see it otherwise.
  2. Earnestly seek God. And remember, eradicating pride is not a one and done deal.
  3. Seek accountability. God encourages us to seek others help in eliminating sin.
  4. View humility as essential. Christ’s example of humility sets the standard.
  5. Look in the mirror of Scripture. The Redeemer Church of Dubai offers a list of “30 Biblical Indicators of Pride in Our Lives” and gives a great way to use Scripture as a mirror for identifying pride.

Pride blocks our ability to see God (Deuteronomy 8:14). Humbleness, on the other hand, involves awareness of the heart’s true condition, one of sinfulness, hopelessness and utter depravity without the redeeming work of Christ. We’ll look at humility in detail In a couple of weeks.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on pride?

Two resources in addition to Scripture played a tremendous role in this very personal study on pride: Pride & Humility by Thomas A Tarrants & The Great Sin by C.S. Lewis.

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29 thoughts on “Struggling with Pride

  1. Sometimes, we (or least I) tend to display a bit of false humility. I think this is especially true for us introverts. I may appear humble on the outside, but thankfully no one is privy to some of my thoughts!

    We often think that there is no one better to handle a task than us, or that since we are more reflective of life, that somehow we are on a different level than others. This is a mindset that I regularly have to guard against. Thankfully, God offers me many doses of humility throughout each week.
    My recent post 3,000 Miles Later

    • False humility was a topic I started to include in the post and realized I just didn't have the time and space to cover it in the post. Maybe another time, but it definitely was on my mind as I studied this. I think it may even be more deceptive than the outright pride we often identify. It's hidden, and it involves not being honest with ourselves let alone others. Pride, in whatever form is definitely something we have to continually work at to both be aware of and to get rid of. Good point, Chris.

  2. Who me? Proud? Surely you jest. I am humble, and know it. I take offense at your insinuation that I may have a pride problem. Other than that…good post. (All previous remarks except last one said in sarcasm). 🙂
    My recent post Anniversary

    • Sarcasm duly noted (and assumed, actually). If you click on the link in #5 and read through the list, you'll see humility there too 🙂 I am sort of pouncing on your well-made point because sarcasm is, um, well, uh, has been, an issue for me.

  3. A few years ago God began revealing to me areas I was extremely prideful. I had not clue! I was so blinded by my pride that I couldn't even recognize it in myself (much like Sheldon). Satan does a wonderful job at helping us justify our actions/behaviors/emotions.
    I'm so thankful God took those blinder off…is still taking them off. Because like you said, it's not a "one time thing".
    Looking forward to reading more on pride. Thanks, Kari. Well done.

    • Thanks, TC. For me, it's focusing too much on others and how my pride just isn't as bad as theirs. If I look at it that way, I've got nothing to work on, especially when mine is in one area and theirs is a lifestyle issue. See what comparisons do? Pray for me on this, please. I am teaching on this very topic at church tonight.

  4. I just prayed for you, Kari!
    Comparisons are very dangerous…so easy to find the justification we are looking for when we use comparisons.

    • Appreciate the prayers! Comparisons are extremely dangerous, and I think they are something we have to constantly struggle with because if we're not struggling, we're likely giving in. I don't think there's complete victory over them this side of Heaven.

  5. Great post Kari! Pride is that subtle, yet deadly, sin that rises its ugliness at me all the time. It is constant battle to put it to death. But it's a most important battle… and thankfully, Jesus helps us with it.

    • Thanks, Dave. Pride is subtle until it glares at us and then seems insurmountable. It\’s a lifelong struggle and process for sure. A focus on Jesus is, in fact, the only way to defeat pride.

  6. Great post, Kari. For the last two mornings I've been spending time in Romans 1, I think it is, the verse about how they did not honor Him as God or give thanks and so He gave them over to their lusts. I've been thinking about what does it mean to honor God as God and in what areas do I not do that?

    One of the things God is impressing on me is that part of honoring God as God is to recognize that He's in control, not me and He gets to call the shots, not me. I can't stand on rights or what's fair. He is God! And being thankful is what helps me recognize that and be grateful for it and not mind when it seems like things aren't fair in my mind.

    I loved your insights on pride and noticed you spoke about it at church – how did that go?
    My recent post 015 Help for Depression with Betty Mullaney

    • Great insights from Romans, Barb. The need/desire to control definitely gets us hung up in the area of pride. The teaching went well Wednesday night, or so I'm told. I'm pretty hard on myself after I teach for some reason. Thanks for asking!

  7. I wish I could say I don't struggle with pride at times but ….well we all know the ending of that well. One thing I have learned though the years is when someone gives me a compliment to just say thank you even though I might be thinking in my head, that was a poor teaching time. The pride pit I get trapped in usually is the one when I want to argue my rights, or an opinion. I don't like having to admit I was wrong about something…like having others come to me for answers. So very thankful for sweet conviction that comes from Him. It's sweet for He always pulls me out of the pit and uses me again despite my foolish pride. Good post Kari…as always you have a way getting to the core of an issue.
    My recent post Fifty years and counting.

    • None of us like to be wrong, that's for sure. My pride flares up in those instances too, even if I'm obviously wrong. I too am thankful for the gentleness of His Holy Spirit working in my life. Thanks, Betty. Your comment reflects what likely most of us experience. Pride is an all-too-common human condition, that's for certain.

  8. You may want to check out "Humility" by CJ Mahaney – a great resource on the subject.

    Pride is a difficult sin to nail down. I wouldn't necessarily say that pride is about being better than the next person. That is certainly a manifestation of pride but it's not the sole definition. After all, Adam and Eve sinned because of pride when they were the only two people in existence. I would totally concur though with pride being anti-God. That's the essence of it – we want to be above God instead of the other way around.

    The difficulty is that pride is the core of our sin nature. It's not nearly as simple as battling something like gossip or alcoholism. Those are very specific. Pride is so general, it manifests itself in so many ways, and it's so part and parcel of who we are as sinners. I think the approach we have to take is not thinking that we can defeat pride, but hoping to subdue pride in increasing amounts day by day through the Spirit.
    My recent post Learning to Love New Habits: How I Lost 100 Pounds – Episode 22

    • Thanks for the resource, Loren. Pride is definitely difficult to nail down. You're right, it's not necessarily about being better than someone else, but it can be about that. Adam and Eve sinned because of pride thinking there was a better way than what God told them, and that's another way pride shows itself. Pride is definitely at the core of our sin nature, which is why C.S. Lewis's description of it fits so well. No, we can't fully defeat pride this side of Heaven, but I do believe it decreases the more we focus on humility (that's next week's post, btw). And we absolutely need the Spirit's help.

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