‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).’
Overindulgent self-esteem and pride are bedfellows – they are one and the same. In this day of the selfie, each person vies with the other: “I’m more beautiful than you. I have a better car. My husband earns more than yours.” By comparison those with low self-esteem are down in the dumps; they feel they are no good; they can’t make it; they are nothing: or so they believe, and some become suicidal.
All of this is of the world which is the devils’ paradise (cf. Matthew 4:8, 9). The devil himself, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), rules the roost at ground level – well, only for a time (Revelation 12:12c); for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Himself will come to judge, and He will judge with righteousness (Psalm 72:2) and with justice. All self-indulgent pride will be done away with (Zephaniah 3:11).
God hates the proud (Proverbs 6:16, 17; Amos 6:8). His Word, the Bible, repeatedly affirms His condemnation of the proud of heart and Psalm 10 describes how He will overthrow the proud and bring justice for those who are oppressed:
‘The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts (2-4).’ And, Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.” But You have seen it, for you observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand (vv. 13, 14a).’
Pride and Self Respect
Self respect and self-esteem are not the same. A self respecting person judges himself by the way in which he lives according to how he performs in upholding his principles, beliefs, morals and ethical values. The person who performs well according to these things can justifiably say he is proud of his achievements. He is not bragging; he is not shouting aloud to the world, “Look! See what I have done! Aren’t I great and wonderful? I’m better than you! I’m superior and of more worth – more powerful than you!”
The person who has genuine self respect is not prideful. He objectively considers truisms of himself; he does not boast; he does not brag about his attributes and accomplishments.
Self-esteem is a subjective analysis of self. It is based on comparisons of self to other people. A person with low self-esteem may see himself as inferior; he may feel he is not as good, not as clever, not as talented, or perhaps not as handsome or beautiful as those he may admire. These are all negative assessments. Such a person is unlikely to be boastfully proud, but that’s not to say he can’t be boastful.
So, pride in the right sense can be positive and good, but it is mostly exercised in a negative sense.
What does God’s Word have to say about it?
Pride was the downfall of satan, or so it can be deduced from the Scriptures. Isaiah in his proclamation against Babylon and His condemnation of the King of Babylon who was a type of satan, tells of his downfall.
‘“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest side of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).’
Another typical representation of satan is mirrored in Ezekiel’s prophesy regarding the fate of the prideful king of Tyre: ‘The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,’ yet you are a man and not a god, though you set your heart as a god (Behold you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! ….. your heart is lifted up because of your riches) (Ezekiel 28:1-5).”’
And, ‘“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
“By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they may gaze at you (Ezekiel 28:14-17).”’
The Consequences of Pride
‘These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).’
God will abase and bring down the proud, as the following Scriptures testify:
‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase (Daniel 4:37).’
‘“Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,” says the LORD (Jeremiah 49:16).’
‘The Lord God has sworn by Himself, the Lord God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, and hate his palaces; therefore I will deliver up the city and all that is in it (Amos 6:8).”’
‘“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, “ says the LORD (Obadiah 3, 4).’
A Warning Against Pride
‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).’
Those who desire to serve as bishops: ‘must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach; …. not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil (1 Timothy 3:2, 6).’
Note that the devil is condemned (v. 6), and in his pride what power he has over the world will be taken away from him (Revelation 20:10).
The Good News
The good news is: ‘So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word or their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:9-12).’”
Finally, ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).’