The Problem with Pride

People have pride in a lot of things - our families, our work, our possessions, and even ourselves. We are taught to be proud of who we are and what we do. It is what motivates us to do good work. My name is going to be on what I do, so I am going to do it with all I have. A job well done means I can take pride in my work.  

While there are a lot of good places that we see the presence of pride, there is a problem with pride that we must look at. Pride is defined as a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. At its core, pride is at odds with the gospel. This is a problem, and, although we tend to praise pride in our lives, we need to make sure that we keep it in check and call it what it is…sin.

4 Common Problems with Pride

1. Pride Breeds Self Righteousness

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:9-14 

Everyone would condemn the Pharisee for his pride. It’s so obvious and ugly. We see the sin so quickly in it. But if we are honest with ourselves, how often should we condemn our own thoughts and actions? Maybe our pride sounds like, “God I am so thankful that my marriage is not falling apart like those people,” or perhaps, “I am so thankful my business is doing well because I am so smart and savy,” or even, “I'm a good Christian because I serve once a month in children’s ministry, and I attend church when I'm not out of town.” Pride is a problem!

2. Pride Puffs Up

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 1 Corinthians 8:1-2

What you know should never become a source of pride. Convictions and beliefs are important and necessary for everyone. But becoming prideful in what you know only puffs you up and makes you feel like more than you really are. 

Love humbles us. Love requires that we count others more important than ourselves, and as the Scripture says, love builds up. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be known as a builder than a person who is puffed up.

3. Pride Leads Us to Worship Our Achievements

7 For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? 1 Corinthians 4:7

All of our achievements and accolades are a direct result of some ability or skill God has given us. We have only used what He has given. We must be careful here! If we worship our achievements and do whatever it takes to gain recognition, we sin. This sin can be so alluring that we honestly see it as beautiful and something to applaud.

4. Pride Breeds an Independent and Unteachable Spirit

As a younger man I bucked authority and did not see it for what it truly is. My pride in my abilities and wisdom was misplaced. My independent and unteachable spirit caused me to miss the fact that people older than me or with more responsibility than me were doing what they believed was best and sharing their wisdom for my benefit.

You are not called to like every authority in your life, but it is wise and in line with scripture to honor and follow those in authority. 

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17  

Pride is a sin. We don’t want it to be a sin, but it is. Take stock today of where you see pride in your life. Confess it and change the way you think. Speak to others in love. Treat those around you and over you as the scriptures encourage and let the Lord show you his favor as you do! Freedom is the result that waits for you. James 4:6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”