The Impact of Pride

There is an interesting and humorous story about a pastor with a reputation of being humble. The parishioners, deacons and other leaders of this particular church often marveled about his humility. These leaders even went as far as giving him an award for his humility. Unfortunately, that is when the pastor’s reputation quickly changed. He became obsessed with the award, bragging about it and showing it off. As a result, the deacons felt strongly that they didn’t have a choice but to strip him of the award. Yes, I said it’s a funny story but it’s also a serious issue. What about you? Are you truly humble or do you struggle with pride especially when praised or recognized as a standout? With that, have you ever evaluated your heart for pride? Before you answer that question, allow me to say that a good indicator that your heart is full of pride is thinking you don’t need such an evaluation.

You likely already knew this, but the Bible warns us about pride. For example,

1 PETER 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

Why are we warned about pride? According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the main Hebrew root for pride is gh; the most common term is gaon, includes the idea of arrogance, cynical insensitivity to the needs of others, and presumption. Pride is both a disposition/attitude and a type of conduct. What constitutes a “proud” person? The negative sense points to a sinful individual who shifts ultimate confidence from God to self. In the biblical Wisdom literature, “the proud” are distinct from “the righteous” and “the humble.”

Also according to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, in the New Testament pride refers to ill-treatment, hardship, disaster, or a violent or insolent person (Acts 27:10, 21; 2 Cor 12:10; 1 Tim 1:13 ). The word hyperephanos and its derivatives occur six times; twice in the Gospels (Mark 7:22; Luke 1:51) and four times in the Epistles (Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). In its Greek background, the word means arrogant, haughty.

Pride manifests itself in limitless ways. So, are you concerned about how this pride is manifested in your life and others? By the way, it’s a bad sign if you’re not. The following are some examples:

Worshiping other gods (putting people, activities, hobbies, entertainment, and possessions ahead of God).

Giving (time, talent, tithe) God your leftovers or nothing at all because you’re keeping or using it for yourself.

Allowing your schedule and priorities to primarily serve you instead of God’s purposes.

Ignoring the commands of Jesus are if they are optional.

Actively living as if the church and her mission are insignificant and even unnecessary.

Disrespecting and subverting church leadership.

Refusing or ignoring your spiritual gift to build up the church.

Justifying or excusing your sin and even blaming others.

Expressing a critical attitude toward others but failing to see and take responsibility for your faults first.

Couriering opinions as if your opinions are the only ones that matter.

Resisting accountability and rarely apologizing even when you’re proven wrong.

Insisting on your way and frequently quitting when you don’t get your way.

The next question is, what is the impact of pride in your life? As you’ll notice from the following examples, the impact is more detrimental than most will admit.

A lukewarm relationship with Jesus.

A negative testimony in the Christian community.

A superior attitude toward leadership resulting in disrespect and slander.

Little to no growth as a disciple of Jesus.

Ongoing conflict and division with people across the spectrum of relationships.

Habitually making others feel devalued and unappreciated.

Consistently distracted and distracting others, with side issues about preferences.

Routinely killing ministry opportunities and growth because of your harshness and judgmental attitude.

I hope we can all see the detrimental impact of pride. But what do we do about it? With God’s help and our repentance, we can humble ourselves and counteract our pride. The Apostle Paul even exhorts us to walk . . . with all humility. EPHESIANS 4:1 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” But how is it possible to walk . . . in all humility? Allow me to quote Jim Putman and Chad Harrington, authors of the book, The Revolutionary Disciple, “A humble disciple knows who they are before God and chooses to go lower by serving, submitting, listening and confessing.” I challenge you to read the book for more details.

We all likely have stories about a prideful person. Some of the stories may even be a bit funny. But what about you? Are you truly humble or do you struggle with pride especially when praised or recognized as a standout? Well, I have a thought. Maybe it’s time for all of us to evaluate our hearts for pride.

A Work in Progress,