Today, we’re diving into a topic we’ve all heard a lot about—pride. Pride can fall into a couple of categories but one such category is a sin against God. So, we want to make sure we see what the Bible says about that. We will actually see some examples of pride in the Bible.
In today’s world, feeling a certain type of pride for your accomplishments or those of others can be seen as a positive thing. Were you proud of yourself when you got a promotion at work? Have you been on a competitive team of some kind and you displayed pride in winning without being arrogant or putting down those who didn’t win?
Is it okay to have healthy and humble self-esteem and be pleased with your accomplishments or those of others? Certainly.
But what about the bad kind of pride? There is that pride that is self-focused or arrogant and leads us to be disobedient to God and follow our own way. This kind of pride can lead to our downfall, and the downfall of complete nations! We want to look at examples of pride like that in the Bible. And that pride was a sin against God.
As we delve into God’s word, we’ll find Bible verses warning us that an excessively prideful person is walking on dangerous ground. The kind of “sinful pride” we often read about in both the Old Testament and the New Testament can lead to devastating outcomes.
Good vs. Bad Pridez/
Is all pride negative? No. We can be proud of our accomplishments or be happy about the achievements of ourselves and others without crossing over into arrogance. Being proud of your kids, your spouse, or the good you’ve done is acceptable as long as it doesn’t become the “center of attention” in your life or replace God’s place in it.
C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist, sums it up well when he says, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” This captures the essence of how we should differentiate between healthy pride and the kind of pride that the Lord hates.
Let’s talk about some examples of pride in the Bible that displeases God.
Examples of Pride in the Bible? Really?
In the biblical text, pride isn’t something that usually gets a thumbs-up from the Holy Spirit. Rather, it’s often coupled with warnings that a “haughty spirit” or a “spirit of pride” is something that can push God away. So what is this haughty spirit? It’s an arrogant person who believes they’re superior to others and acts accordingly.
Remember the story of the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament? That’s a perfect example of how prideful people can mess things up for everyone. They tried to build a tower that would reach “the farthest sides of the north,” or in other words, heaven itself! This pride of life, thinking they could outdo even God, led to their downfall.
The Apostle Paul, a messenger of God, also addresses this issue. He teaches us to “value others above yourselves,” which can be seen as a remedy for the prideful tendencies we often have.
Pride That Displeases God
The Bible doesn’t mince words when it discusses the type of pride that God finds displeasing. Pride that cannot possibly please God is unlike the positive emotion you might feel when your child brings home a good report card, the kind of pride labeled as sinful has far darker implications. This isn’t a pride laced with humility about your accomplishment or mutual respect of others; it’s a pride that elevates oneself above others and sometimes, unknowingly, above God Himself.
In the Bible, this kind of pride is often linked with a haughty spirit, a mindset that assumes one’s own superiority over others. It manifests as a rebelliousness that negates the word and will of God. This is not the same as feeling proud of someone for a well-deserved accomplishment. Instead, this is an arrogance that makes us feel self-sufficient, as though we have no need for God or His guidance.
When we’re mired in this kind of pride, we often forget that we live under the eyes of God, and we become prone to selfish actions, and not showing humility that values others.
More alarmingly, this form of pride doesn’t just isolate us from other people; it creates a chasm between us and Our Heavenly Father. It’s like ingesting forbidden fruit, offering us a false sense of wisdom and independence while keeping us from depending on the source of all wisdom and strength. In essence, it’s a defiance of God’s design for how things should be— rebellion against the kingdom of heaven.
So, when you find yourself dwelling in a state of pride that focuses more on the self than on others or God, remember the warnings and examples the Bible provides. From Nebuchadnezzar to Pharaoh to Saul, we’re given biblical illustrations of the dangers of pride, reminding us to maintain a humble spirit that aligns with God’s plan for us.
The Bible does contain instances of pride that aren’t characterized as sinful. For example, 2 Corinthians 7:4 says, “I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” Here, Paul expresses pride in the Corinthian church for their faith and spiritual growth.
In Galatians 6:4, we’re told, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”
The Apostle Paul himself felt a form of pride for the spiritual well-being of the churches he helped establish, referring to the Thessalonians as his “glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:20).
And what about a parent being proud of their children, or perhaps the feeling of pride or accomplishment for a special achievement like graduation, etc.? So, there is a sense where people can have joy and pride in themselves or others that don’t cross over into sinful behavior.
Striking the Balance
The key difference here seems to be the focus of the pride. Is it self-centered, all about elevating yourself and forgetting God? That’s a dangerous game to play.
But if it’s about acknowledging good, promoting love and unity, and especially giving glory to God, then it seems the Bible gives that a thumbs up.
Paul’s advice? Be filled with a humble spirit, focused on the interests of others rather than your own interests. This lines up with the teachings of Christ Jesus, who showed us the ultimate example of humility by giving up his royal throne in heaven to live as a man and die for our sins.
So no, not all pride is created equal in the Bible and the fascinating stories of the Bible. But it’s clear that much of the teaching about pride in the Bible is the kind that is terribly displeasing in the eyes of God.
Examples of Pride in the Bible
King Nebuchadnezzar: A Towering Ego Crumbles
King Nebuchadnezzar serves as a good example of pride gone awry. As the ruler of the expansive Babylonian Empire, he embodied what the Bible would describe as a very proud man. This Babylonian king was so consumed with his own greatness that he boasted from his place of honor, “Is this not great Babylon that I have built for my royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” His words dripped with boasting, demonstrating his arrogance and pride.
God, however, was not amused by this blatant pride of King Nebuchadnezzar down from his metaphorical mount of the congregation, God took drastic measures. The king was driven away from his royal throne and lived like a wild animal.
32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’Danile 4:32
His dark descent served as a stark reminder, even in the eyes of God, that pride goes before a fall. Nebuchadnezzar’s experience served as a lesson not just for the people of Israel but for everyone. God is the one who elevates and humbles, who sets up kings and tears them down.
These were serious consequences of pride for Nebuchadnezzar. His sins of pride might have seemed irredeemable in the eyes of men, but not for a loving and merciful God.
When the King was humbled and repented before God, he finally acknowledged God’s sovereignty. Look in the later verses:
34 “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.
His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.35 All the people of the earthare nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’
36 “When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.
37 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”Daniel 4:34-37
So even with the sin of pride, there remains a pathway to redemption. God’s grace has the power to transform a wicked man into one who embodies humility, values others. Just as Nebuchadnezzar eventually understood, every individual has the chance to learn this crucial lesson: that we are not the center of the world, and our boastful claims, whether of a wise man or a rich man, are empty without recognizing the true source of all blessings—God Himself.
Pharaoh of Egypt: A Hardened Heart Leads to Ruin
The Egyptian Pharaoh in the book of Exodus stands as another person whose pride led him down a path of self-destruction. When Moses, approached him wanting to liberate the Israelites, Pharaoh’s ego swelled within him. His attitude wasn’t just everyday stubbornness; it was a refusal to yield his selfish mindset that his kingdom was the real kingdom of heaven on Earth.
God, in his most incredible ways, unleashed a series of plagues—from turning the Nile into a river of innocent blood to sending swarms of locusts into Egypt. These were not subtle signs; they were loud proclamations, practically shouting from the heavens that there was a power far greater than Pharaoh. Yet, blind in his own eyes, his arrogance remained unshaken.
It was only after the crushing loss of his son during the final plague that Pharaoh’s exterior showed cracks. Yet, this brief flicker quickly vanished almost as quickly as it appeared. Fueled by his anger, the Pharoah pursued the Israelites to their freedom and his own catastrophic downfall as the Red Sea parted giving us one of the greatest and miraculous stories of deliverance in the Bible
Pharaoh’s story serves as a somber reminder, echoing the words of C.S. Lewis, that pride is a spiritual cancer. It illustrates vividly that disregarding the will of God because of inflated pride and ego can be a fatal mistake.
Unlike King Nebuchadnezzar, who eventually found his path to repentance, Pharaoh’s hardened heart led him to a point of no return. His refusal to heed Moses’ request solidified his legacy not as a wise ruler, but as a cautionary tale—a “proud person.”
King Saul: From Humble Beginnings to a Tragic End
King Saul’s life story reads like a cautionary tale highlighting the dangers of pride. Initially a modest individual, Saul was astonished when the prophet Samuel chose him to be king. “Am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel?” he queried, almost incredulously. But just as the “son of the dawn” rises only to set, Saul’s humility waned as his authority grew.
As he tasted power, it corrupted him, and he soon joined the ranks of proud people. His behavior exemplified the type of arrogance the Bible warns us about. Saul began to disobey God’s will, electing instead to follow his own path and do things his way.
For example, he impatiently offered sacrifices that were the exclusive domain of priests, a terrible misguided mistake that revealed his growing detachment from the divine order.
King Saul’s downfall was triggered by his increasing arrogance and neglect of God’s ways. This pride pushed him off the course of doing what was right and led to where God no longer recognized him as king. Saul’s unfortunate end serves as a powerful warning, much like the stories of other figures who let their pride get the best of them.
Regardless of how well someone starts out, arrogance can ruin even the most promising of lives. In Saul’s case, his life became barren and forsaken, much like an abandoned paradise, missing out on the potential blessings that could have been his if he had stayed humble and obedient to God.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector: A Warning Against Self-Righteousness
To grasp the nuances of pride that are unacceptable and particularly distasteful to God, consider Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee stands front and center in the temple, visibly thankful that he isn’t like the so-called sinners around him. It’s a striking display of self-righteousness.
Contrast this with the tax collector, who stands at a distance, too ashamed even to look toward heaven. His simple, heartfelt prayer is, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” According to Jesus, it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home spiritually renewed.
This story shows that God cares more about real humility than acting super religious. The Pharisee thinks he’s better than everyone else because he follows all the rules, but God doesn’t just look at that. What really matters to God is being humble, knowing you’re not perfect, and asking God for help and forgiveness.
So, the main takeaway is: don’t act like the Pharisee. Being popular or praised shouldn’t be your goal. Instead, focus on understanding your own mistakes and genuinely asking God for help and guidance. This way, you can truly grow spiritually.
Other Examples of Pride in the Bible
King Uzziah: A Journey from Arrogance Back to Humility and Grace
King Uzziah began his reign with significant promise. He was a young monarch who initially ruled with a genuine fear of God, leading to prosperity and growth for his kingdom. However, as is often the case with power and success, Uzziah became overly confident and prideful. He reached a point where he felt entitled to overstep his royal boundaries and perform religious rituals that were specifically designated for priests.
God’s response was swift and unmistakable: Uzziah was struck with leprosy right on the spot. This moment of divine intervention served as a severe wake-up call for the king. The immediate and severe consequence prompted Uzziah to reassess his relationship with God, shattering his illusion of self-sufficiency and invincibility.
The experience was undoubtedly harsh, yet it crystallized Uzziah’s understanding of his own fallibility and his ultimate dependence on God’s grace. This story invites us to contemplate the perils of pride and the importance of humility.
Often, life has its own way of humbling us, showing that even at the peak of our accomplishments, we are never beyond the need for divine grace and guidance.
So, the story of King Uzziah serves as a reminder of the need for humility but also is a story of redemption. It illustrates that while pride can lead us astray, humility and repentance of our sin against God can put us back on the right path. Sometimes it takes a profound experience to remind us of these eternal truths.
Apostle Peter: From Denial to Devotion
Apostle Peter is another fascinating story. Remember how he promised Jesus that he’d never abandon Him, even saying he’d die for Him? But then, when Jesus got arrested, Peter got scared. Before you knew it, he’d denied even knowing Jesus three times. He denied knowing the very Son of God with whom he had served with for several years.
Peter was heartbroken over his actions. However, he would not allow his failure to define him and he repented and trusted the forgiveness of Jesus.
And guess what? He became one of the most important leaders in the early church. That’s the power of a humble heart and God’s grace. Jesus forgave him, telling him to feed His sheep,to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to help lead the church.
Let’s take a look at another example of pride in the Bible.
King David: A Tale of Repentance and Divine Mercy
King David is renowned as a man after God’s own heart, yet even he had his weaknesses. One notable instance was his liaison with Bathsheba, a lapse of judgment that led him down a path of deceit and even murder, arranging for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to be killed in battle. This series of events clearly highlighted how David prioritized his personal desires over God’s will.
What sets David apart, however, is his reaction when confronted by the prophet Nathan. Instead of justifying his actions or wielding his royal authority as an excuse, David exhibited sincere remorse. He was visibly contrite and accepted the gravity of his sin. In a state of deep humility, David confessed to God, admitting that he had sinned against the Lord.
In response, God extended His steadfast love and mercy, forgiving David even though there were still significant consequences for his actions. David’s subsequent life was a testament to a man who had learned from his mistakes, and who aimed once more to be someone who sought God’s own heart. He, also, didn’t let his failures define him; instead, he used them as catalysts for spiritual growth and a closer relationship with God.
The story of King David serves as a compelling example that the grace of God is available to us even when we falter. The key lies in relinquishing our pride, admitting our mistakes, and approaching God with a contrite spirit.
David’s story teaches us that irrespective of our shortcomings or the gravity of our errors, it is never too late for redemption. All it takes is the courage to say, “I was wrong, and I to repent and receive God’s grace to make this right.” By embracing this humility and depending on God’s mercy, we too can find our way back, just as David did.
Practical Lessons on Pride and Humility
Fear of the Lord: Where Wisdom Starts
So, how do we steer clear of ungodly pride? Well, the Bible’s pretty clear: it starts with a healthy fear of the Lord. Now, don’t get freaked out; this doesn’t mean being scared of God like you’d be scared of a monster under the bed. It means having huge respect and awe for who God is – a respect and awe that is far greater than you could ever than for any other person or thing.
It’s actually submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, receiving Him as your personal Savior, and focusing on your relationship with Him.
C.S. Lewis Weighs In: A Deeper Dive into the “Anti-God” State
Let’s take another look at the viewpoint that C.S. Lewis expressed. Lewis wasn’t just some guy with good ideas; he was a great example of a godly man who exhibited deep Christian thought and actions. He once described pride as the “anti-God” state, the “great sin” that leads to all other sins.
Why? Because pride puts you at the center of your own world, which is exactly where God should be instead of us. When we’re full of ourselves, there’s no room for anyone else and we, even unintentionally push God away.
Now, Lewis also pointed out something pretty interesting. He said that pride is competitive by nature. It’s not about having a lot or being a lot; it’s about having or being more than the next person. So, you’re not just focusing on your “own strength”; you’re also comparing it to others and finding it superior. This, Lewis argues, fuels our “wicked schemes” and drives us further from the “God’s help” and grace that we all need.
Lewis’s insights really help us understand why pride is so damaging. According to him, it’s the biggest roadblock between us and a deep relationship with God. So if you’re looking to get right with the God of the Universe, taking Lewis’s wisdom to heart is a pretty good place to start.
Now we will look at the greatest example of humility in the Bible.
Jesus Christ: The Benchmark of Humility
In the landscape of human history, no figure embodies the virtues of humility and selflessness more than Jesus Christ. He stands in stark contrast to the proud people who populate tales of prideful downfall. Jesus serves not just as a good example but as the absolute standard against which all other acts of humility are measured.
While kings and rulers like “Herod Agrippa” and “King Herod” claimed divine connections to amplify their pride, Jesus, who actually possessed a divine nature, chose a life of utter humility. He entered the world in a manger, not a palace. He chose disciples not from among the esteemed scholars but from the ranks of fishermen and tax collectors. His was a life dedicated to serving the least of these, putting others’ interests far above His own, and teaching us how to “value others.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, and uplifted the marginalized. Yet, His actions were never about gaining applause or self-glory; He repeatedly directed all praise and thanksgiving to God the Father. There was no “wise man boast” in His actions; only the purest form of love and humility.
When falsely accused and facing unimaginable suffering, Jesus displayed total humility. He did not defend Himself with eloquence or wrath, features that would have been justified considering His innocence. Instead, He accepted His fate on the cross, offering Himself as a sacrifice for humanity’s sins. His crucifixion is the good news that provides a pathway to eternal life for all who believe.
His life and teachings remind us that true humility comes from understanding one’s place in the grand tapestry of existence. Jesus, despite being the Son of God, never sought a place of honor but instead showed incredible humility toward others as in washing the feet of His disciples, teaching them that the “last shall be first, and the first last in the Kingdom of Heaven.
In every way, Jesus epitomizes the antithesis of pride, demonstrating that genuine strength and greatness lie in humility and service. As we navigate our own lives, it would serve us well to remember His example, ensuring that we don’t stray into the pitfalls of pride that have claimed so many before us.
Conclusion: Pride, Humility, and the God-Focused Life
So there you have it. God is serious about pride and humility. I hope you have been able to gain some insight about examples of pride in the bible. While we’ve seen some famous Bible personalities mess up due to their great pride, we’ve also seen how repentance can put things right. King Uzziah, Apostle Peter, and King David are proof that God’s steadfast love is for everyone who turns their heart towards Him.
Bottom line? Humility’s where it’s at. By truly understanding what the Bible says about pride, and by taking a page out of Jesus Christ’s playbook, we can aim for a fulfilling, God-focused life. So go ahead, put your own way and your own interests aside, and make room for the transformative power of God’s grace. It’s the ultimate game-changer for this life and the one to come.