[Quick note right off the bat] When I refer to “pride,” I don’t mean “self-regard” or “self-worth.” Those are good! We are God’s creation, and that makes every soul valuable. I’m talking about pride as self-exultation. Setting myself on a pedestal. Thinking more highly of myself than I do of my fellow humans and even of God. [End note]
Do you know someone who is always right?
They aren’t (truly) right all the time…but they think they are. Even when they’re not.
All of their opinions are facts. (Don’t argue.)
Bring up any random topic, and they’re an expert on it. (Don’t question.)
They say everything with a tone of absolute certainty. (Don’t doubt.)
If you do decide to argue, question, or doubt anything they say, then you quickly realize that this person isn’t interested in a two-way conversation. (Why bother listening to you? What could you possibly tell them that they don’t already know?)
I’ve known people like this. They can drive me crazy. But ya’ know what else is crazy? As much as I think know-it-alls are crazy, I’ve been crazy like this before.
At certain points in my life (#teenyears) I knew it all. (Look at me! I’m 19 and I’m a genius in all things life!)
Even now, there are certain topics that I know a lot about. When I discuss them, I can’t help myself. I put on my pedantic pants and bestow a lesson upon anyone who is polite enough to not run away.
The root of this behavior is pride. There are scads of ways that pride shows up in our lives. This is just one example.
And the main point I want to get across is this: Pride makes me lose touch with reality.
I’ve set myself so high that everything else in the world is below me. (Not reality.)
I’ve made myself so big that everything else in the world is small. (Not reality.)
There’s nothing for me to look up to. Nothing to inspire awe and wonder.
Pride Makes Me Unteachable
Pride tosses self-awareness out the window. I’ve got an over-inflated view of myself. I’m the fount of all knowledge. (If only people would listen to me…)
I become unteachable.
Not only to my boss. Not only to my parents and family members who are looking out for me. Not only to my church family who cares about my spiritual welfare. But also…
…to God. (Eeeep!)
Scripture says that one of the hallmarks of a true disciple is having a teachable spirit.
“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” (Prov. 13:18)
Pride rejects this. It says, “I’m the teacher, not the student.” Pride tells me not to pray for wisdom. Not to read scripture for wisdom. It stands in direct contrast to Prov. 2:6:
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
But who needs God when I have my own superior intellect?
That’s the primrose path that leads to Gal. 6:3:
“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
By the time I get to this point, I’ve completely broken with reality.
God isn’t real.
God isn’t good.
God isn’t all-powerful.
God isn’t interested.
God isn’t competent.
Exalting myself and holding God in contempt…it narrows my vision and makes my world small and paltry.
If I’m the biggest and best thing in my world, then there’s nothing for me to look up to, nothing to inspire me with awe and wonder.
Check out these scriptures. They describe the nonsense that a pride-riddled heart proclaims.
- “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)
- “Thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.” (Isaiah 47:10)
- “Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God.” (Ezekiel 28:2-10)
- “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud.” (2 Tim. 3:1-2)
Bottom line? I want to be my own God. I want to be the ultimate authority. I want to decide what’s good and bad. I don’t want anyone else telling me what to do because I know best.
Pride leads me to despise God, my Creator, my Father.
Talk about out of touch with reality. That’s it.
Stay Off the Pride Slide
[Kind-of a side note, here.] It’s hard to have empathy for others when I’m fulla pride. After studying up on this, I found scriptures that connect pride to a slew of human-on-human crime. Here’s just a sampling of what I found. Pride leads to…
- Hard heart – Dan 5:20
- Malicious spirit – Ps. 119:85, Alma 4:8-9
- Contempt for others – Ps. 123:4, Jacob 2:13-16
- Quarrelling – Prov. 13:10, Alma 4:8-9
- Violence – Ps. 73:6
- Injustice and inequality – Ps. 119:78, 3 Ne. 6:10-14
- Oppression and persecution – Ps. 10:2, 2 Ne. 28:13
- Materialism – Alma 31:28
- Corruption and failure of the church – 2 Ne. 28:12, Alma 4:10
Yow! All that from pride…
Humility Is Reality
Here are some beautiful words of sanity.
“Acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.” (Alma 38:14)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Jesus is Lord above all. Amen and amen.
Humility is recognizing that God is God and I am not. One aspect of self-denial is giving up my inner throne to the One who truly deserves to sit there.
When I lose my grip on pride, then my hands are free to accept the gift of awe and wonder—the universe of God’s mysteries, everything beyond the scope of my understanding, a bigger, braver world with an untamed lion as King.
Next time: Denying Ho-Hum Normal (to Gain the Thrill of Different)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.