The Ugliness of Pride & Arrogance

Black-and-white portrait of an ambitious young Christian minister
Black-and-white portrait of an ambitious young Christian minister

Pride is a sin that is at the core of all humanity, you either have a little or a lot. Proud and arrogant behavior has never done anybody any good; and it will surely and ultimately damage the life of the person who maintains this behavior. Of course, the world doesn’t look at pride as a big deal. Even though pride is like a hot, stinky, smell – it’s tolerated – there’s no law against it.

The problem is: this same attitude is in the church (2 Tim 3:1-5) and professing Christians have forgotten that this is a sin and an extreme lack of love. God says that when you say you love someone – you show it by being humble, not proud (1 Cor 13). As followers of Christ, who are called to love everyone. Pride is prohibited.

Pride is defined as:

A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association. Full of self-respect and independence of spirit. Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness. An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit, vanity, ego.

Now, read very carefully:

It’s not a sin to have dignity or feel pleasure or satisfaction for an achievement, possession or who we are associated with. As Christians, we are associated with a God who is all powerful, all knowing and everywhere. Our God is magnificent and awesome and he gives gifts to those who serve him – I take great pleasure and satisfaction in this. We should feel satisfied when God achieves something new in our lives; and we should have high esteem in the fact that God created our bodies and faces with such wonder (Ps 139:14) and beauty. We should feel good about ourselves knowing he loves and thinks of us so worthy that he had his Son be tortured and killed in our place (John 3:16). When I think of these things, I am truly dignified; and God wants us to have a healthy respect for ourselves because of him.

Now, the above reasons I give for my worth, value and self-respect may not be what others tie their worth and value to. Followers of Jesus Christ should get their worth and value from God; and him alone. But unfortunately, some make the mistake of building their worth and value from themselves – what they do in their flesh – their self-esteem. Sometimes we forget that our accomplishments only were made possible through God; and so we mistakenly attribute worth and value from ourselves rather than God. So this is how pride becomes a sin: when our value and worth come from within ourselves or other people, rather than God.

What Pride Does to People

If you think pride isn’t a problem, I will go over its basic and damaging effects. Once again, pride is prevalent in the church – many religious leaders bath in this sin. Though it’s constant stench is offensive, the other leaders or the flock won’t rebuke or correct this behavior. Some even call it “confidence”, or that these men have the right to be proud because “they are on top… they are the leaders… the founders of this great church” – and they have the right to parade themselves around like little gods amongst men. But they are wrong. This behavior is disgusting and it gives the green light to anyone else: that the sin of pride is OK.

I’m better than you

Because your value and self-worth is not rooted in God but yourself, you begin to compare yourself to other people. Perhaps it’s the house, money, gadgets, jewels, cars, or a spouse that others don’t have; but you do. Other times, its the flattery, the adoration of fans, and the media that lift you up and contribute to your swollen head. You look around in your circle of friends and begin to compare your achievements in various professional fields, your talents, your college degree(s), the amount of weight you can press; your fame in the public, or your subscriber list on YouTube. Whatever it is, you begin to think you ‘re better than others. Well, how is this a problem? Its all in your head. You haven’t hurt anyone for feeling good about yourself and your achievements and possessions – right? Wrong.

Nobody likes a boaster

Now, you can’t help it, you’ve got to tell them all about how great you think you are; sometimes its subtle and sometimes is obvious. But God says: a person who loves others doesn’t boast about themselves (1 Cor 13:4-7). Boasting is: To glorify oneself in speech; talk in a self-admiring way. People do this all the time when they brag about how “holy” and “spiritual” they are; or about what they’re doing for God. Its all an attempt to glorify themselves rather than God. People hate when a person opens their mouth and begins to “lift themselves up” over others – it’s offensive and selfish. Perhaps it’s offensive because, deep-down, we all know (Christian or not) that God is the only one who can glorify himself. We’ve all been given gifts and talents – born with special abilities – and while these are spectacular, it all originates from God. So he deserves all the glory and we should never glorify ourselves in our speech.

May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
and the tongue that speaks proud things (Psalms 12:3)

You’re below Me – Disdain, Contempt and Disrespect

Finally, pride turns to boasting, which turns to arrogance; and here in lies the worst damage. Because you perceive yourself as “better than others” within your social circle or community, you begin to lose respect for people who are not on “your level.” You begin to reject those who you deem as beneath you. You regard them as inferior, base, or worthless – and they don’t deserve your respect because they’re not in your class.

You think you know what’s best for these “other people” because, after all, you are a god and you know it all. You look to help others (which seems like kindness) but you will surely patronize them because, after all, they’re inferior to you. You now deserve to be catered to; and no one can refuse you because you are “somebody.” You can steal, abuse, manipulate and hurt “that person” or “that group of people” because they’re despicable and below you. Some have even thought so highly of themselves that they should be praised and worshiped like the All-Mighty God. How disgusting this behavior is; how demeaning and offensive it is. The “big ego” and the “superiority complex” is what the world calls it – but God calls it sin.

Do to others as you want done to you (Matthew 7:12). How do you feel when someone treats you like a roach, a dog or a slave? Do you like to be treated like an inconspicuous worm or stepped on like one, after rainfall? This is how pride, boasting and arrogance make others feel. Pride comes from the root of selfishness and its all because that person’s value and worth comes from the flesh rather than from God. The flesh is weak and nothing good can come of it. But with God as your source of value and worth, you can’t really boast about anything other than the Lord himself.

Your head is stuck in the clouds

Pride is dangerous for you because it prevents you from being corrected. You see, God is above reproach and because you think of yourself as a high and lifted up being (like God) you can’t possibly be wrong, or be corrected. When you do mess-up, its extremely hard for you to take responsibility. You lie to cover it up. You’ll do everything in your power to NOT say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I apologize“; and if you do, it always follows with a “but you too…” to ease the pain of humility.

Because your value and self-worthiness comes from yourself and not from God, you won’t ask for help when you need it the most. You think to yourself, “gods don’t need help”, but you’re not a god! And this angers you – but you still won’t ask for help. You can’t submit to positions where you’re not in full control – you need to be the leader – you can’t be “under” someone else, you have to be on-top and in charge. You lose opportunities in life because people don’t like you. You lose relationships, you lose chances to change and grow because your head is too swollen and stuck in the clouds.

The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:11)

Unbalanced Unhealthy Relationships

Arrogance brings a level of unbalance to relationships because the one who’s most arrogant will always try to push down the other. We’ve all seen relationships where one person is frequently demeaning or patronizing towards the other. The arrogant person doesn’t see the other as an equal. On top of that, arrogant people need someone to be “below them” (so they befriend people who they perceive as lower in status) so that they can always feel elevated. The “clouds” have become a comfortable place for the proud and so they don’t want to come down – “its better to be above, than humble”, is how they think.

This is damaging to the others because they’re frequently, physically, but most often, verbally hit with lies of inferiority, inability or weakness. A flower can never grow if it’s always being stepped on; and people are like flowers. All of us are precious, delicate beings and words and actions of contempt, disdain and disrespect hinder our growth. People who are in relationships with people who exhibit pride and arrogance are certainly being effected for the worst. People who continue to accept this behavior (abuse) will find that it will just get worse and worse. If they try to leave or rebuke the behavior they will surely anger these tyrants. The continual sin of arrogance produces domineering and controlling characteristics in people.

I really hate pride and arrogance; and God does too.

What pride does to God

16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure (Psalm 101:5). Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5).

It’s funny how arrogant religious leaders will single out homosexuality as such an abomination, but God views lying, and prideful behavior just the same! Do you look at the sin of pride as abhorrently disgusting, as God does, or is it insignificant to you?

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5).

10 Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.” 13 The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.” 14 Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.” (Luke 18:10-14 CEV)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the Almighty God to resist me. When I pray, I’d like my prayers to get through, but those who are proud, God resists. What a shame – so many prayers wasted because of pride. It’s simple: God loves humility and hates prideful behavior.

The benefits of humility and how to be humble

  • Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. (Matt 5:5)
  • Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. (Pro 3:34)
  • A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Pro 29:23)
  • Whoever humbles himself as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 18:4)
  • Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
  • Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things,
    but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion (Romans 12:16)

Proud people don’t get into Heaven, only the humble do; not only that, humility can make you one of the greatest in Heaven. As followers of Christ and people who are called to love as he did, we must be humble – there is great reward in it. Humility makes it easier to follow a God who knows what’s best for us. With humility, we keep our heads on level ground and we don’t disrespect others. We can also ask for help and be corrected when we’re wrong. We show God we love him by being humble.

Humility looks like this:

  • Admitting your wrongs and mistakes; and taking responsibility for them
  • Pulling over and asking for directions when you’re lost
  • Not thinking or pretending you “know it all”
  • Saying, “I don’t know.”
  • Telling the truth and receiving the consequences for it
  • Service to others, in any capacity, without getting anything in return
  • Prayer: submitting, listening and following God instead of yourself

Humility is not feeling bad and low about ourselves, rather, it’s having a correct view of ourselves through the eyes of God. This is why God says:

… Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

If you allow the word of God to renew your mind, you’ll see who you are in perspective to God and you’ll also learn that humility is what he loves and pride is what he hates.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8)

God is noble, he is just, he is pure, he is lovely, he is praiseworthy – keep your mind on the Most High God and you won’t get a swollen head. You are nothing but dust (Ecclesiastes 3:20), so you should never let people put dust on a pedestal. You must also stop stroking the ego’s of your lifted up religious leaders – you’re only encouraging them to be more sinful – if you love them, you wouldn’t boost their pride, but rather, esteem them as everyone else. Only God deserves the glory, honor and praise.

“My Big Ego ♫”

The above title is a song by the very worldly Beyonce and Kanye West.

The world’s view of humility is warped. They look at humility as weakness and pride as confidence. To be humble is to be disrespected. I guess they think: because that humble person is modest in their behavior, or isn’t acting, walking and bragging about their accomplishments, they must not have too much going on for them – therefore, I’m better than them. It’s almost as if: if you are lowly, the natural response of the proud is to step on you.

Respect is earned?

The world says, “respect is earned, not given“. In other words: I don’t have to show others respect unless they do things that I feel are worthy of my esteem or praise. This viewpoint is so sinful and so clearly against scripture. God says: respect everyone, no matter if you think they are worthy of your esteem or not. If you believe the world’s lie, you’ll find yourself always doing something to be noticed, to be praised and to be respected. And you’ll finally get that respect too, but this respect comes from men rather than God. And so, sinful men will have control over your self-value and worth – they’ll have the power to give and to take. We should care less about respect from men, but rather, the respect of God.

As Christians, we are called to be like Jesus; and humility is one of his attributes. Humility it also one of the things he was “hated-on” for. The proud Pharisees were the complete opposite of Jesus and this is one of the reasons they persecuted him. Don’t be surprised to see your religious leaders and “Christian brothers and sisters” treat you bad just because you’re being humble like Jesus:

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also (John 15:20).

When we are humble and not prideful, we show are love for people; and we please our God who is the only one who deserves to be glorified, praised and worshiped.

Written by Neal Chester (Nealreal) and published December 25, 2009. If this was helpful, share it using the buttons below. If you'd like to redistribute this article in other ways, visit our terms for more information. For other inquiries, please contact us.