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The Two Kinds Of Pride

Selfish pride can be defined as "excessive confidence or glorification in one's self, possessions or nation." The concept is found in The Bible, along with pride itself, in words such as arrogance, haughtiness and conceit, among others, all of which are opposite of Godly humility. The wrongness of self-centered pride is essentially twofold. On a spiritual level, it inevitably leads to disregard, disrespect and disobedience to God i.e. self-centered pride is primarily what transformed the once-righteous Lucifer into the wicked Satan after he became too impressed with himself: "I will make myself like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14 RSV, see also Born To Be Wild?). On a worldly level, selfish pride very often results in self-destructive behavior because, while a form of self-delusion, it isn't necessarily as much an overestimation of one's self as it is a dangerous underestimation of others, hence "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18 RSV). The Bible also speaks of a good pride, but it differs greatly from selfish pride (see below)

What Does The Bible Say About Pride?

Holy Bible Selfish pride is sin:

"Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." (Proverbs 8:13 RSV)

"For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride" (Psalm 59:12 RSV)

"For the wicked boasts of the desires of his heart, and the man greedy for gain curses and renounces The Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek Him" (Psalm 10:3-4 RSV)

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2 RSV)

God will humble those who don't humble themselves:

"And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, then I will chastise you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like brass; and your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. Then if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many as your sins." (Leviticus 26:18-21 RSV)

"The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and The Lord alone will be exalted in that day." (Isaiah 2:11 RSV)

"A man's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor" (Proverbs 29:23 RSV)

The Bible also speaks of a good form of pride, but there is a difference - it's based on a pride for others who are living in obedience to God.

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God. Open your hearts to us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you" (2 Corinthians 7:1-4 RSV)

"We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man's position and not on his heart." (2 Corinthians 5:12 RSV)

Fact Finder: Does "God oppose the proud, but give grace to the humble"?
1 Peter 5:5

This Week's Bible Quiz

What's the missing word? (Revised Standard Version)

1. "Then _______, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under" (Matthew 2:16)

2. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of _______, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2)

3. "You are the _______ of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid." (Matthew 5:14)

4. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the _______; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Matthew 5:17)

5. "He said, "Come." So _______ got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus" (Matthew 14:29)

6. "Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the _______ of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

7. "And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of _______" (Matthew 21:1)

8. "So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet _______, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matthew 24:15-16)

9. "Now on the first day of _______ Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" (Matthew 26:17)

10. "When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named _______, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him" (Matthew 27:57-58)

For the answers to this December 31 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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