“Pride is an independent, me-oriented spirit. It makes people arrogant, rude, and hard to get along with. When our heart is prideful, we don’t give God the credit and we mistreat people, looking down on them and thinking we deserve what we have.” (Joyce Meyer)
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 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. 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.” He describes this “anti-God state of mind” like this:
“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 Pharisee and 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:
- Thinking we have any merit in our own abilities.
- Seeing others with contempt and disrespect.
- Placing ourselves above others.
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.
The Bible provides the necessary instruction for identifying pride in our lives.
- Ask God to reveal your pride. We must ask God to show us our pride, because we likely won’t see it otherwise.
- Earnestly seek God. And remember, eradicating pride is not a one and done deal.
- Seek accountability. God encourages us to seek others help in eliminating sin.
- View humility as essential. Christ’s example of humility sets the standard.
- Look in the mirror of scripture. Let it reflect any changes you need to make in your life.
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.