Characteristics of Pride

James 4:6

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
September 2009

Today, I want to talk about what the Bible says about pride. We sometimes use the word pride in a good sense, meaning proper self respect. In fact, even the Bible uses it in this sense (Proverbs 17:6; Galatians 6:4; James 1:9-10). The Bible also uses it in a bad sense. The world only uses pride in a good sense as a virtue, not a vice.

It says that we should have pride in ourselves, in our school, in our country, in our race. James Brown wrote a song in 1968 entitled, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Cinco de Mayo celebrates Hispanic pride. The world takes pride in its sin (gay pride). We even talk about “southern pride”.

God sees pride not just as a sin but a very big sin. In fact, it made his list of the top seven sins in Proverbs 6:16-19 and it is at the very top of the list. Proverbs says that it is one of the things God HATES (6:16-17; 8:13). Pride was the first sin. You could call it the root of all evil. The Bible says that God resists the proud (James 4:6).

Pride is not a sin limited to non-Christians. Christians can have pride. God judged several OT kings who were believers for pride (Hezekiah and Uzziah). But what exactly is pride? How do you know if you are proud? I want to share with you twenty characteristics of pride.

20 Characteristics of Pride

1. You boast about yourself.

You always think you are the best at things. Pride comes out in words. The Bible speaks of “proud words” (Revelation 13:5). When I think of boasting, I think of King Nebuchadnezzar who said, “Is not this the GREAT Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by MY mighty power and for the glory of MY majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Muhammad Ali was also known for his proud words.

Ali said in 1964: “I am the greatest! I’m the greatest thing that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest.” In 1975, he wrote his autobiography and he titled it The Greatest. Scripture says that if we are going to boast, we should boast about God (cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24). Do you like to boast or brag? Do you toot your own horn?

2. You like to draw attention to yourself.

The Pharisees did this by blowing the trumpet before they did a good deed (Matthew 6:2, 5; 23:5). You exalt yourself all of the time. That is what Satan did (Isaiah 14:13-14). He tried to take a higher position that he was never meant to have and that God never gave him. Are you a show off? Do you want to stand out in the crowd? Make a name for yourself? Do you wish you were famous?

3. You are self-centered.

Everything is about you. You act like you are the center of the universe. When you talk to others, you spend hours talking about yourself and your problems. You are self-absorbed and narcissistic. Are you a self-centered person? Do you lack empathy for others? Are you upset when the spotlight is on someone else and not you? Does it make you jealous or envious?

4. You love to be honored by people.

Some people love the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:43). You love to be respected because of your title or position and if you are not, it bothers you. (Matthew 23:6-7). Did you see the exchange between Senator Barbara Boxer and Brigadier General Michael Walsh of the US Corps of Engineers two months ago (June 2009)? Walsh was testifying in a senate hearing.

Boxer asked him a question. He started to answer and said, “Ma’am” when Boxer cut him off and said, “Do me a favor. Could you say senator instead of ma’am? I worked so hard to get the title, so I would appreciate it”. That was a joke because in the military ma’am is a term of respect but it wasn’t a big enough term for the democratic senator from California. Do you like people to pat you on the back and tell you how good you are and stroke your ego? Do you want people to be impressed with you? Are you offended and hurt when you do not get credit for what you do?

5. You refuse to ask for help when you need it.

Many who are lost are too proud to stop and ask for directions. There is a myth that real men don’t ask for directions. Are you too proud to ask for help when you need it?

6. You do not like being under the authority of another person.

Instead of being submissive to authorities, you question authority and despise people telling you what to do. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to feminists is over the whole question of submission. It does not matter how clear biblical teaching is on the subject. They simply refuse to do it. What is your attitude toward authority? Are you to proud to submit to God-ordained authorities over you?

7. You are stubborn.

The OT term for being stubborn is to be “obstinate and stiff-necked”. That’s what God called the Jews. I Samuel 15:23 says that “stubbornness is like idolatry” (KJV). Some people are never willing to compromise or listen to any other viewpoint. They are very rigid and inflexible. Are you a very stubborn person?

8. You are power hungry.

How many people do we know who are into power? They want a position or job because they like the power that comes with it. They insist on having their way all of the time. They like to control the people and events around them. They tend to be bossy, pushy, tyrannical, or a bully. Are you a control freak? Do you love to control others? Does having power make you feel good?

9. You are emotionally insecure.

An insecure person is a person who lacks confidence in their own value and ability. Most people are insecure about something but if it is serious enough it can become a personality disorder. Often people by to overcompensate and boost their self-image by jealousy or pride (e.g. boasting). Do you have any of the following thoughts: “I am no good at anything,” “I can never do anything right,” “No one could ever like, respect or accept me”, “Why would anyone care what I say or think?”

10. You think you are superior to others.

You think you are better than other people. You may think you are superior either physically superior (stronger) or better looking (more attractive) or economically superior (wealthier) or socially superior (live in a better house or a nicer neighborhood or drive a fancier car) or intellectually superior (higher IQ, better grades or more degrees than someone else) or morally superior.

This self-righteous Pharisee felt morally superior to the tax collector. A poor self-image often drives people to act superior to disguise and overcompensate their inferior feelings. Do you have a superiority complex?

11. You look down on others.

Because you feel superior to others, you feel contempt for certain people, like the Pharisee did in Luke 18:9. You may look down on them because they are not as educated or as smart or as wealthy as you are. You may look down on them because of the way they look, dress or talk. You may look down on them because of where they live or the car someone drives or because they have a disability of some kind. Do you look down on and snub your nose at certain kinds of people?

12. You are highly critical of others.

You don’t just think feel contempt for others, you say critical things about them. The problem with being critical of others is that we have all have a tendency to see the flaws of others clearly but to not see any of our own flaws (Matthew 7:1-5). Are you a critical person? Do you always find the worst in people and focus on the negative, rather than the positive?

13. You say things to put people down.

Because you are critical of others, you say things to put people down, insult them, and call them names. We can insults people’s race, gender, size, skin color, looks and even their family (Yo Mamma jokes). We forget that words hurt people. The Bible says that some people sharpen their tongues like a sword (Psalm 64:3) and use their tongues to hurt people. The Bible says that the person who mocks and teases people has a problem with pride (Proverbs 21:24). Do the words that you use tear people down or lift them up?

14. You have an inflated view of yourself and your own abilities.

You think you are better than you are.  You have an inaccurate self- image. The world thinks the solution to low self-esteem is high self esteem. There are all kinds of books that tell you how you can get high self esteem. According to Paul, the solution is not to think of ourselves too low or too high (two extremes) but to have an accurate picture of ourselves.

That is biblical self-esteem. Many of us have average abilities but in our head we think we are better than everyone else. Romans 12:3 says, “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to”. Don’t go around with your head too big. Do you have a big ego?

15. You are argumentative.

Arguing is not always a sin. We are to give reasons for the faith (I Peter 3:15). and you can’t do that without arguments. Paul went into the synagogue and reasoned with people from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2; 18:4). Apollos even held public debates about whether Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 18:27-28) and you have to use arguments when you debate anyone. But there is a difference between arguing and being argumentative.

God told Moses to do something (Exodus 3:1-10) and he argued with God (Who am I that I should go? What if they do not believe? But I am not eloquent? Why don’t you send someone else?) and God finally got angry with him (Exodus 4:11-12, 14-17).

It is like when you tell your kids to do something and they always argue with you. They love to argue, instead of obey their parents. A proud person loves to argue and loves strife. The Bible says that pride breeds quarrels (Proverbs 13:10; 20:3). Do you argue for the sake of arguing (i.e., just to be difficult)? Do you argue out of a rebellious spirit?

16. You do not like to be corrected.

A proud person does not respond well to criticism, even constructive criticism. Criticism implies that there is something wrong with you and a proud person does not want to admit this. He would have to swallow his pride to admit this. Proverbs says, “he who hates reproof is stupid” (12:1) and “he who hates reproof will die” (15:10). Anyone who is married knows about correction. Do you get defensive and mad whenever you are corrected? Do you always take it personally?

17. You think you know everything

It doesn’t take long for people who think they know everything to find out that they really don’t know anything. I Corinthians 8:2 says, Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much” (NLT). We see this, especially in teenagers. Parents can’t tell them anything, because they already know it all.

Sometimes we think that we know more than God. How many have said, “I know the Bible says homosexuality is “an abomination”, something God hates but I do not think there is anything wrong with it. It seems perfectly natural to me. ” Are you a know-it-all? Do you think your know more than your parents, your teachers and your friends? Do you think you know more than the Bible? (Proverbs 3:7; 12:15).

18. You never admit when you are wrong.

You never apologize. You never say you are sorry, even after you make a mistake or hurt someone by your behavior. Pride keeps people from apologizing for their actions. Do you always think you are right? Do you ever apologize for things?

19. You tell lies to yourself.

The Bible says that our heart is “the most deceitful of all things” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). The Bible says that the pride in our heart can deceive us (Obadiah 1:3). That is why many who have a substance abuse problem never quit. They are in denial that they have a problem and they are in denial because they lie to themselves.

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true, despite overwhelming evidence. Sigmund Freud came up with the concept. Do you ever lie to yourself about things?

20. You rationalize your sin.

God’s Word clearly condemns you but you justify what you are doing. What are some excuses people have for sin?

Modern Rationalizations of Sin

• “It is just the way God made me.” “It’s just my personality. It’s the way I am.”

•  I am not hurting anyone”.

• “No one will ever know about it”.

• “I will never get caught”.

• “I was born that way. It’s genetic. I have a gay gene.”

• It is someone else’s fault.

• “The devil made me do it.”

King Saul tried to rationalize his sin (I Samuel 15). Do you make excuses for sin or do you take full responsibility for your actions, as David did in Psalm 51?


7 Responses to Characteristics of Pride

  1. Akinnusotu Godwin says:

    This is a wonderful piece. God bless the author with more wisdom.

  2. Bwire Byron says:

    This is great work. I will share this with others

  3. Grace and peace of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied you who wrote this about pride am blessed it’s written God resist the proud and lifts the humble which means this I have. read is vital to me and I Psalm 139:23 we need to examine ourselves and surrender to God for help.thank you.God bless

  4. Oluwabamigbe Tomilade says:

    I’m so excited to have read this piece. It added virtue to me

  5. Johnbull Emenike says:

    Thanks @ Alan for allowing the Holy spirit inspire these master piece from you. I have lately desired to imulate christs humility. Trusting the Holy spirits guidance on this subject; having suffered the consequences of being a proud and haughty soul.
    Thanks to God for this meal in season. I will commit myself to its study and practice until i become that which God desires of me.

    Please I covet your prayers @all

  6. Nyoma Friday Jacob says:

    God bless you man of God for the enlightenment.i feel blessed

  7. Seun Oloyede says:

    Thank you for this article, God bless you.

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