The Problems of Pride

The Problems of Pride

Remember that our goal for 2018 and 2019 is to answer this question: How do you build your interior wall?  How do you build character and habits which prepare you for the storms you face as a leader? There will be things you need to build  habits, spiritual disciplines, spiritual formation: Last week we talked about worship.

There will also be things you need to tear down – Habits, lies you tell yourself and live by, and sins which need to be put to death. John Owen in the Mortification of Sin said, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work …cease not a day from this work. Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work …cease not a day from this work. Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” – John Owen, Mortification of Sin.

Over time, the church  developed a list of 7 deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony & Lust. Usually in this order – an order of seriousness. 

Pride is the worst of all sins. Pride is first because it is a cosmic crime. Pride contends for supremacy over God. Other sins lead the sinner further away from God, but pride attempts to elevate the sinner above God. Pride is the topic of our conversation this morning: Most of us are familiar with Proverb 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, arrogance before a fall.”

 “Pride goes before destruction, arrogance before a fall.” – Proverb 16:18.

I’ve always found this video to be a funny, yet clear representation of pride:

Here is how I want to look at this topic today and get you wrestling with it. First, the Problems of Pride (1 Peter 5:5-7), and second, Problems in a Prideful Leader: Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4).

The Problems of Pride

I Peter 5:5-7  – Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

First and by far the biggest problem with pride: “God opposes you!” Nothing could be more significant than being in opposition to an omnipotent God.

Second, you lack “humility.” A prideful person is always thinking about themselves, which can be displayed in a few different ways:

  • Self-Promotion (Like the Rocket Scientist): You need to “top” someone else’s story or you want someone else to give you credit for something.
  • Self-Justification: The need to explain why you are right. A project fails at work and you feel the need to say: “Well, I knew that was a bad idea from the beginning.” 
  • Self-Demotion: We highlight that we have performed worse than others, we have it worse than others, or we have less than others. It can be a sneaky form of self-promotion because we’re actually shing for the armation and reassurance we believe we deserve.
    • I once knew a guy who was the most self-demoting person I ever met. He was always saying: “I’m probably wrong, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, O don’t listen to me!” It was a false humility. He was always thinking about himself. Eventually I told him I thought he was one of the most prideful people I had met.
  • Self-Condemnation: Replaying poor performances in order to beat ourselves up over our failures.
  • Self-Preoccupation – This is the common denominator in all these ways of thinking. C.S. Lewis famously said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” 

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

Third: Lack of humility means you don’t want to go “under the mighty hand of God.” You don’t want to live “under” anyone’s hand because you want to think of your “hand” and your ways and your thoughts as “mighty.” 

Think about this for a moment, this verse on pride is coming from the apostle Peter, who constantly displayed his pride throughout his discipleship. Recall Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in Mark 8:31-33.

Jesus began to teach the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Jesus spoke plainly about this. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. (Peter is rebuking God’s plan here. I believe that qualifies as prideful.)  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

OUCH! Jesus looks at his disciples and knows they tend to follow Peter, so Peter gets rebuked with the harshest vocabulary. His pride of knowing how to better operate the world is compared to Satan! Peter had firsthand knowledge of how it felt to be in opposition to God, so he is warning his readers in I Peter. Don’t be prideful, don’t be in opposition to God, it doesn’t work out well for you.

Fourth: God hates pride because it is self-destructive. God has made you in his image, and if you “humble yourself under his mighty hand,” then God will “exalt you.” God will build you into the person you were designed to be. But self-exaltation leads to self-destruction.  Self-exultation destroys your God-given image. Instead of reflecting God, you reflect yourself.

Fifth: Pride means you care for yourself. You don’t “cast your anxieties” on God because of your pride, you have to hold onto and fix all of your anxieties. This is a terrible way to live, because you miss out on experiencing the truth that “He cares for you.

Problems in a Prideful Leader: Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4).

This week, I want you to do the work. Read Daniel 4:4-5, 10-17, and 24-37 slowly. Make at least five observations about pride from Nebuchadnezzar. After this part, as always, you may talk over the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  1. As you look at Nebuchadnezzar’s life and lessons he learned about his pride…what has the most application to your life
  2. What’s an effective way to work against pride? How do you live “under God’s mighty hand”
  3. Do you see pride coming out from you more in:  (In what ways?)
    • Self-Promotion (Me Monster – Notice me)
    • Self-Justification (Let me tell you the reasons why I am right)
    • Self-Demotion (False humility)
    • Self-Condemnation (I replay poor performances & beat myself up)
  4. C.S Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – How do you do this?


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture




Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church

Comments are closed.