Wisdom Decries Pride – II

Mighty fallenWisdom’s reason for hating pride

Why does true wisdom command us to hate or chase away pride (cf. Proverbs 8:13)? Because God warns against it.

Pride is ‘an abomination to the LORD’

Proverbs 16:5 cautions us that “every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD”. The word “abomination” means a thing that is strongly disliked or hated. God’s wrath kindles against every abominable thing. Pride is an evil thing that the Lord hates. In Proverbs 6:16-19, we see a list of things that are abominable to God, and pride stands first on that list. Proverbs 21:4 identifies pride as a sin, “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”

Pride leads to shame and destruction

In Proverbs 11:2, we read, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame.” The Hebrew word for “shame” (salon) denotes a lowering of state from what he presently occupies (See Proverbs 29:23a). This shame is something that a person brings upon himself. Because of pride, he would find it difficult to remain at his current place of work or social activity. It is very likely that he himself would leave the place because of the shame that he had brought on himself.

Proverbs 16:18 warns that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”. Again, it is said, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty” (Proverbs 18:12). Some put on a humble appearance before others while prideful thoughts and ambitions fill their hearts. Even to them, the Scripture warns, “An haughty spirit” is “before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride-filled thoughts will only lead them to destruction.

Wisdom’s advice on overcoming pride

Mighty fallenSince the LORD hates pride, we must learn to subdue and eradicate the pride within our hearts. Otherwise, it will destroy our lives. To keep pride out of our hearts, the wisdom of Proverbs gives us the following instructions:

Cultivate “the fear of the LORD” in your hearts

Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy . . .” According to this verse, every heart that fears the Lord will not entertain any prideful thought or attitude. Whereas pride teaches one to take glory for himself, the fear of the Lord instructs us to give due honour to the LORD. To avoid any prideful behaviour, we must give glory to God for every progress and achievement in our lives. It is an absurd thing to rob God of His glory.

Cultivate humility in your hearts

Often the book of Proverbs places the spirit of pride antithetically to the spirit of humility. For instance, Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” To be “haughty” is to be proud or to behave in a puffed-up manner. A haughty person thinks that he is better than others, and tries to show off his abilities for self-glory. On the other hand, a humble person will behave in a non-self-promoting manner, and be submissive to God and others.

When a person is not self-centred, pride will not be able to take root in his heart. Likewise, when a person is submissive in his attitude towards others, he will not speak arrogantly or attempt to promote himself.

Cultivate friendship with humble people

Walking with the lowly in heart is far better than sharing the wealth or fame of the proud. In other words, friendship with the lowly is to be desired above friendship with the proud ones. Proverbs 16:19 says, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

When your friends are humble people, you will learn to behave like them. But if your close friends are those who deal arrogantly, you will soon learn their proud ways and behave like them. When you keep company with the proud ones, you will be compelled to adjust your language, mannerism and actions to suit theirs, lest you become a misfit in their company. So you must not develop friendships with proud people. Instead, you must choose humble people as your friends. Then you will be encouraged to behave like them. It may look fascinating to talk and act like the arrogant ones because it may make you feel that you are better than others. But remember that the proud ones will be brought low by God.

Wisdom Decries Pride – I

The Tower of Babel - Dionysius Padtbrugge
The Tower of Babel - Dionysius Padtbrugge

In chapter 8 of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a lady who gives wise counsel to those who seek her. In verse 13, she lists those things which she hates, and one of them is pride. The Hebrew word for “hate” expresses a strong feeling of revulsion that is determined to exterminate. Why does wisdom chase away pride? To understand the reason for wisdom’s hatred for pride, we will pursue wisdom’s perspective and handling of pride.

Wisdom views pride as evil

In the list of evils mentioned in Proverbs 8:13, the first is “pride”. A study of various Hebrew words, translated as “pride” in the book of Proverbs, provides us with the following understanding of pride.

The evil nature of pride

  • Pride is a preoccupation with self-glory. It turns one’s heart away from giving glory to God. In a prideful heart, self-pleasure and self-glory take precedence over God’s glory (cf. Psalm 10:4).
  • Pride thrives on the idea of self-importance. A proud man will be so preoccupied with himself that he would not be concerned about others and their needs (cf. Proverbs 21:4).
  • Pride also entails self-confidence that is unwilling to submit to the good counsel of God and man. Pride is unyielding (cf. Hosea 7:10). For his own satisfaction and glory, a proud person will not hesitate to pursue evil ways.
  • Pride seeks to promote an exalted view of self at the expense of proper and moral conduct. Such an inflated view deceives a man into expressing defiance and rebellion unashamedly.
  • Pride may also take the ugly form of contemptible treatment of others. Inconsiderate, unkind, intimidating and cruel words will flow out of a proud person’s mouth.
  • Pride involves a “high look” or a haughty appearance and attitude (cf. Proverbs 21:4). Pride rejoices in an inflated opinion of oneself. An inflated view of one’s own opinion cannot help but causes trouble.
  • Pride also involves boasting. Psalm 73:8-9 casts some light on the words of the proud – “They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” He has a “tongue that speaketh proud things” (Psalm 12:3).

The evil outcome of pride

A prideful person will lay bare the ugliness of pride in his attitude, words and actions. Three evils are mentioned in Proverbs 8:13 as following pride: arrogancy, the evil way and the froward mouth. Certainly, a conceited heart will be full of such evil. Seldom will a prideful man repent of his stubbornness, cruelty and evil ways.

Being quarrelsome is one of the evil fruits of pride. Proverbs 13:10 states, “Only by pride cometh contention.” Proverbs 28:25 affirms this fact when it says, “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife.” A proud person’s desire for prominence would make him a quarrelsome person. He would revolt against authority either to assert his own ideas or to gain material prosperity, position or popularity (cf. James 4:1). Pride also makes one impatient of competition and rivalry, impatient of contempt, or anything that looks like a slight. Prideful men will not forgive but take revenge.

Proverbs 21:24 describes a proud man as a scorner – “Proud and haughty scorner is his name.” A proud man is a mocker. Proverbs 9:7-8 describes how an arrogant scoffer will behave. Even those who lovingly correct him will be scorned. “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (cf. Proverbs 13:1; 15:12; 19:25).