The Ugliness of Pride & Arrogance

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

This article is apart of the series “.” You may need to read the rest of the series to get the full context.

Contrary to what the world says about pride, pride is a sin and has devestating effects. If we say we love God, and one another, we must be humble.

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.


About Nealreal

I'm a follower of Christ, a Bible teacher, a Hebrew, and a husband. I'm tasked with helping people understand and enter the kingdom of God.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. I surely agree with what you are stating. I have been dealing with this matter a lot currently with my father so i hope this will find him to determine my perspective. Hands and fingers crossed!

  2. Hi! I was wondering if you could share some insight/perspective with me. I have a friend who I love and care about very much. He is in ministry and loves God, but he is very prideful and arrogant. Through the past several years he has changed considerably toward being this way. Though I care and love him very much, he makes myself and others feel like we are not spiritual or seek the Lord enough.. atleast not like him. There are well known people that he is affiliated with in ministry circles. He carries himself as if he is better than us because we are not in ‘ministry’. What makes it worse is the Lord really does speak through him, but his attitude, pride and arrogance is so awful. He can be so cooled and unkind. It breaks my heart because I know the Lord uses him tremendously, but he doesn’t show love toward us, his friends anymore. He wants to be seen, and wants to be sure you know just how ‘good’ his life is, what he drives, who he associates with. He wants to be sure your good, but not better than him. And somehow no one calls him out on it, not even those in ministry seem to notice. My spouse is young in the Lord, he has a keen gift of discernment. He doesn’t say much, but he sees right through this friend. This friend doesn’t realize people are watching how he treats and speaks to others. He is to be an example. To much is given, much is required. Many times I’ve prayed for him. I have even prayed and questioned myself in humility and my heart for my friend. I have ask the Lord to give me wisdom on how to approach him in love about how he comes across and treats me and others who are our friends. It seems he has to be correct about everything spiritual and above reproach. The last several years he has become estranged to me in friendship, to the point where he walked right in front of us several times at a ministry gathering that ‘they’ invited us to come and support, and never looked at us or said hello. The evening became about him. I love him and his wife, they are some of my closest friends, but it has gotten to the point where I don’t want to visit with them, it has gotten that tough to be supportive.

    1. Hi Lucy, friends like yours sadden me and anger me at the same time. On one hand I hate their behavior, on the other, I’m concerned for them because they just don’t know the danger they’re in if they continue on that path. First of all, a person whose full of pride and arrogance doesn’t love God. They’re more in love with themselves.

      From the scriptures, I know that God is the only God that will sever a relationship with a person and let them still keep working for him. God’s gifts are without repentance and if the person wants to keep working, God will let them, but his relationship with them would no longer exist. Then Jesus said this,

      Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

      A rude awakening in the presence of God is what your friend is in for if he doesn’t repent. He’ll be rejected by God even though he works for God like all those other people Jesus mentioned. The problem Jesus had with them was their lawlessness—their iniquity—their sin. On one hand they’re doing good works, on the other hand, they’re sinning against God and man through arrogance and pride. God hates both. Unfortunately people like your friend may not take rebuke well (Proverbs 9:7-9) having become a scoffer, but hopefully he can still be corrected—maybe not by close friends but someone else. I’d do as the Lord leads concerning him and I’d continue to pray that God humbles him in hopes that he does repent.

      The fact that others in ministry with him don’t call out his behavior shows that they too practice it, this is a clear sign of a harlot church environment. At least you and your husband see it. There’s not too much you can do for people like this. And sometimes, God has you to cease from praying for such folks. But hopefully grace is still available for him.

      1. Hi Neal! First, I want to thank you for your response and the wisdom you shared with me. I could not fully read your article at the time I was trying to post a comment. I was later able to read the entire article and the insight and truth you shared was spot on in truth, and unfortunately many things are literally verbatim in actions we experience with our friends. I cannot agree with you more about others in ministry not seeing or calling out his behavior. This shows me there is something so seriously wrong with leadership. That is heartbreaking. Where are the men of God and prophets to bring correction?

        I think the worst part of it is that at times I have felt disqualified by this friend, and that somehow, somewhere we must be doing something wrong because our life didn’t look like there’s. I say this with truth and sincerity, that I am very, very careful not to walk in covetousness by comparing myself with others. I always go before the Lord with humility and express my joy that my friends are blessed in many areas.. even when in our own life things have been extremely difficult. There have been seasons where my husband and I see things happen for others, and we feel like we have been left behind. We didn’t understand why. And sometimes we still don’t. There have been many many tears, forced smiles, and lots of pain wondering where is God.. We don’t fully understand His ways.. But the Lord is faithful to us. When I’ve found myself with a thought of comparison, I remember His goodness and faithfulness.. His promise to me is that He would never set me on a shelf, but salvage me and keep me by His hand. His timing, promises and His ways are perfect. He is wonderful.

        I grew up in church all my life. My father and mother were pastors. God has taken me on an extraordinary journey the past several years. I keep the commandments, I even keep the Sabbath and celebrate the Feast Days. Not out of legalism like most people think, but because the word of God says ‘If you love me keep My commandments’.. This too has become such a taboo with my friend. I have to be obedient to the Lord, and not man. But this friend at times had made it a point to try point out that I’m somehow involved in a cult and involved in legalism. It can be painful. Responses and rebuttals are riddled with pride and arrogance since this friend knows the ‘word’ so well. I owe everything to My King.. I follow Him. I want to do what He does, say what He says, go where He goes. I don’t expect this friend to understand, but I do expect him to love me and respect me though he may not fully agree. I want to believe he has the love of Jesus, but I truly wonder. I’m sure the Lord will reveal this friends heart issues to him, and bring correction .. If not in the thunder, lightning or earth quake.. hopefully in a still small voice.

        1. Hi Lucy, you said, “I think the worst part of it is that at times I have felt disqualified by this friend, and that somehow, somewhere we must be doing something wrong because our life didn’t look like there’s.” This is exactly why their behavior is so troublesome, it can potentially hamper a person’s growth in Christ and their ability to be used by Christ.

          You also said, “but I do expect him to love me and respect me though he may not fully agree.” People with a spirit of arrogance and pride cannot love/respect others with a differing opinion—this is what pride does. But as you ended your comment, maybe the Lord will get to him. But I say to guard your heart from such people in the meantime because fellowship with such people can ruin your soul.

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