Pride Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Pride in Scripture</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Pride shows up in <a href="">Genesis 3</a> as the desire to &ldquo;be like God,&rdquo; a motive for rebellious disobedience.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Pride is exhibit A of folly in the wisdom literature. &ldquo;Pride goes before destruction,&rdquo; (<a href="">Proverbs 16:18</a>). Pride incites God&rsquo;s judgment (<a href="">Proverbs&nbsp;16:5</a>). Pride brings disgrace (<a href="">Proverbs 11:2</a>) and strife (<a href="">Proverbs 13:10</a>).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">In perhaps deliberate c<span class="body-copy">ontrast to <a href="">Genesis 3</a> (&ldquo;you will be like God&rdquo;), the kenosis (or self-emptying) hymn of <a href="">Philippians 2</a> reveals as a signature virtue of Christ Jesus that &ldquo;though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited&rdquo; but took on the nature of a servant. In the hymn this move is an example to those who are tempted to act out of &ldquo;selfish ambition or vain conceit.&rdquo; In accordance with his signat</span>ure virtue, Jesus teaches his disciples &ldquo;whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant&rdquo; (<a href="">Mark 10:43</a>).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">In her song, the blessed and fierce Virgin Mary celebrates that God &ldquo;has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts&rdquo; (<a href="">Luke 1:51</a>).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Jesus liked to tell stories<span class="body-copy">to those who were &ldquo;confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else&rdquo; and to stick them with the point of his story: &ldquo;all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted&rdquo; (<a href="">Luke 18:9, 14</a>; see the same conclusion as the point of the story of places at the table in <a href="">Luke 14:7-14</a>). Again, to an expert in the law who wanted to &ldquo;justify himself,&rdquo; Jesus says he </span>ought to be as merciful as the otherwise despicable Samaritan (<a href="">Luke 10:25-37</a>).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">In his matchless ode to love, Paul states that love &ldquo;is not boastful or arrogant or rude.&rdquo; Accordingly, do not think of yourself &ldquo;more highly than you ought to think&rdquo; (<a href="">Rom. 12:3</a>).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Prophets warn constantly that <span class="body-copy">&ldquo;the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> has a day in store for all the proud and lofty&rdquo; (<a href="">Isaiah 2:12</a>, NIV). See also <a href="">Isaiah 16:6</a>; <a href="">Isaiah 25:11</a>; <a href="">Ezekiel 28:2</a> (&ldquo;your heart is proud and you have said, &lsquo;I am a god&rsquo;&rdquo;); and <a href="">Zephaniah 3:11</a> (&ldquo;I will remove f</span>rom your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain&rdquo;).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Pride <span class="body-copy">appears prominently in the vice lists of the New Testament, as in <a href="">Romans 1:30</a> and <a href="">2 Timothy 3:2</a>. See also the contrast between worldly wisdom and real wisdom in <a href="">1 Corinthians 1:18-31</a> and Paul&rsquo;s discussion</span> of pretension and boasting in <a href="">1 Corinthians 10-11</a>.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Pride</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Usually listed fir<span class="body-copy">st among the &ldquo;seven deadly sins,&rdquo; pride is in both Scripture and the church fathers a &ldquo;root sin.&rdquo; What sin, after all, causes more war, envy, fratricide, tyranny, sense of entitlement, ethnic cleansing, and subversion of fellowship? What sin makes God seem more irrelevant? God wants to fill people with the Holy Spirit, but people who are proud are already full of themselves. There&rsquo;s no room for God.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Augustine tr<span class="body-copy">eats pride as the greatest political threat to the City of God, the usurper that wants to unseat God and enthrone itself. He also points to a remarkable irony: the person who reaches toward God and wants to please God gets &ldquo;stretched&rdquo; by this move and ennobled by the transcendence of its object. But the person who curves in on himself and tries to please only himself ends up contracting into a little wad. &ldquo;There is something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart, and something in pride which debases it.&rdquo; </span></span><span class="body-copy-sm">(Augustine,&nbsp;<em>City of God</em>, 14.13)</span><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"> See also Proverbs 29:23: &ldquo;Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.&rdquo;</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Pride is Exhibit A of folly; it ma<span class="body-copy">kes a fool unteachable. Nobody can tell him anything. He will not listen. He is often in error, but never in doubt. He&rsquo;s an off-key singer who still wants the solo parts.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Moreover, pride is a fantasy view of the self. Our wills are not sovereign; we are not our own centers or lawgivers, and the thought that we are can verge on madness. Only a damned fool, Milton believed, would rise from his flaming </span>ruins, look out across &ldquo;a dismal situation waste and wild,&rdquo; filled with &ldquo;huge affliction and dismay,&rdquo; and then declare: &ldquo;Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav&rsquo;n.&quot;<span class="body-copy-sm">(Milton,&nbsp;<em>Paradise Lost</em>,&nbsp;1:57, 60, 98, 263)</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Prid<span class="body-copy">e aborts intimacy and trust, and therefore real fellowship. It&rsquo;s a robber of some of life&rsquo;s most precious gifts. It is also subject to the law of diminishing returns. Healthy people have wide interests and so absorb a constant and fresh stream of outside intelligence. The self-absorbed are on safari only within their own consciousness. The more fascinated they are with themselves, the less of any substance there is to find fascinating.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Pride is, finally, idolatry. And like all idolatry, pride is fina<span class="body-copy">lly, futile. Idolatry removes us from God&rsquo;s sphere of blessing, condemning us, as Richard Lovelace once wrote, to search for fulfillment among our idols, which, instead of solid blessings, offer only &ldquo;black-market substitutes.&rdquo; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Richard Lovelace, <em>Renewal as a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth</em>, InterVarsity, 1985, p. 36.)</span></span></span></p>