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!
You are reading part one of a two-part series on the prideful heart by Biblical Counselor Julie Ganschow, the founder and director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center in Kansas City, MO. Read part two here.
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 (NIV)
God Hates Pride
All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse 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.
But when [Nebuchadnezzar’s] heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. Daniel 5:20-21 (NIV)
King Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal until he came to his senses and repented of his sin. God then restored the kingdom to him.
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:2-23 (NIV)
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.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)
Pride brings opposition from God. He will not share His glory with anyone or anything.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)
The prideful person is self-deceived.
For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3 (NKJV)
Pride May Look Like ‘Low Self-Esteem’
Often prideful people are mistakenly diagnosed with “low self-esteem” because their actions and attitudes appear to be self-depreciating. Low self-esteem is 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 display a desire to be noticed, which is disguised as shyness. 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.