Pride is a heart-attitude sin that overflows into a person’s motivation, decision-making, and activities. Pride is at the root of nearly every problem we struggle with in counseling!
The heart of pride is focused on “self.” Prideful people believe they deserve better than what life has brought them. They become sorrowful, resentful, and even jealous of other people and their successes. Pride breeds self-pity, which is a major component in depression. Typically, people who struggle with pride will live life based on how they feel and expect everyone else to accommodate them and adapt to their moods.
Two key characteristics of pride are independence and rebellion. It should not be too difficult for us to understand why this is so. The truth is we all want our own way about things, and we usually will do almost anything to have it our way. The sinful nature leads us to desire independence, and we rebel at the thought of being under anyone’s control or authority.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4 (NIV)
In our hearts we say as Pharaoh did, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” (Exodus 5:2)
The truth is, we cannot remain full of pride because God hates pride!
All who fear the LORD will hate evil. That is why I hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speech. Proverbs 8:13 (NLT)
The heart of pride brings devastating consequences that God ordains: a hardened heart and consequences of this sin. Scripture shows us the results of pride through the examples of two kings: King Nebuchadnezzar and King Herod. They both became prideful and consequently were humbled by God.
In your life, pride will cause your heart to harden toward God. Consequently, God will not allow you to prosper. He will bring you dishonor, which is the last thing a prideful person wants (Proverbs 11:2).
Pride brings opposition from God. He will not share His glory with anyone or anything. The prideful person is self-deceived. Often prideful people are mistakenly diagnosed with “low self-esteem” because their actions and attitudes appear to be self-depreciating. Low self-esteem is defined as “a person’s belief regarding the degree to which he is worthy of praise.”
The prideful person already thinks very highly of himself or herself! People infected by pride typically think so much of themselves that they believe the world should revolve around them. The only thing important to prideful people is getting their needs filled. It may be an emotional need, a desire for attention, or a resistance to conform to social norms in order to be seen as an individual. Prideful people struggle with bitterness, revenge, conceit, self-pity, a competitive nature, gossip, slander, and vanity. They typically have a lust for attention, approval, and praise. Those who attempt to build them up psychologically only assist them in further self-indulgence.
Pride is an evil of the heart that must be done away with for the Believer to grow and change. The response to pride is repentance. A prideful person must be convicted at the heart level that they are thinking of themselves above others, and determine to follow the exhortation of Paul in Philippians 2
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:1-8 ESV)
The ability to display the actions in the above passage comes from changes in the heart. Repentance that comes from conviction by the Holy Spirit that living a self-focused (prideful) life is sinful. The Lord also provides the ability to change, or transform, from one thing into something entirely different. From someone full of selfish ambition and conceit to someone who has the mind of Christ.
When the heart is changed there will be new and different motivations, new and different desires, and a new and different way of looking at self and at life. This will bring actions that are “others” focused, and will bring God much glory and honor.
There will be hard times in this kind of change, because the flesh dies hard and slow. God is so good; He will bring many opportunities to succeed in the days ahead!