Here in America we are all about American pride and we also have made a cliche of the proverb, "pride comes before the fall” (from Proverbs 16.18). So which is it? Is pride a good thing or is it deadly? Maybe we should evaluate this a little deeper. Pride was the first sin and it will be the last. Lucifer thought he was worthy to overthrow God and his prideful rebellion was the first sin. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This speaks to us that each of us who have not surrendered our pride and will to God will face a humbling of the greatest magnitude in the end. Pride is as sneaky as the snake from which is comes. It disguises itself in the simplest and most unsuspecting ways and can leave a great trail of destruction in our personal, relational and spiritual lives. Let’s pause for a short moment to look over some ways that pride might be disguising itself in our lives.
- Criticism and Gossip: Pride peaks its ugly head out from behind criticism and constantly running other people down behind their back. People who have never considered themselves to be prideful might be surprised as they realize they actually believe they are better than all of these other people they are constantly criticizing. A critical spirit is a prideful spirit.
- Anger: Anger has roots of many different origins but one of them is most certainly pride. Pride convinces you that you are owed everything by everyone. When people don’t bow to your will and preferences, anger ensues. When people don’t recognize your superior insight, talent or appearance you just get mad about it. And most of the time, we don’t even realize what caused our anger. We just know we are mad. If you find yourself flying off the handle for seemingly no reason at all, follow the trail back and see if pride isn’t at the end of the rope.
- Boasting and a desire to be recognized: This might be the most obvious of all the ways pride disguises itself. It is very easy to spot someone who is obviously obsessed with themselves. Every story is about them. Every story ends with how awesome they are, how much money they saved or how well they performed on a given task. When we see this in ourselves or others we can quickly realize that pride in this instance is most likely a coping mechanism for someone who has yet to discover where their true identity comes from and is still searching for it in the recognition from others.
- Selfishness: We are all selfish. Selfishness is natural but devastating to our relationships. Unearthing the reason for our selfishness is vitally important in cutting off the head of the snake. Since pride convinces a person that they are superior to others, they really don’t see being selfish as selfish. They actually believe it is obvious and everyone should understand why they get the last piece of pizza, why they deserve the promotion and why they get a veto on every dining out adventure (ugh!). Again, selfishness is a coping mechanism for someone who has not discovered their true source. Selfishness is most common from hurting people.
- Justifying sins: Prideful people can do no wrong. They can’t be corrected. They do not receive teaching or rebuke well. This turns into constantly justifying their sins, wrong doing and behavior that is detrimental to themselves and others. Every time we make excuses for our behavior and justify our sins we lower our standards for ourselves until eventually, we have no standards left.
- Unforgiveness: Pride and pain seem to work hand and hand as you might notice from the previous 5 disguises. Nothing is more telling of this than unforgiveness. Pride is what convinces us to hang onto resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Pride will not allow a person to ask for forgiveness or receive an apology. Don’t let a past injustice or hurt dictate any more of your future emotional and relational health.
- Jealousy: A prideful person cannot celebrate with others. They find themselves embittered at people who have done them no wrong. They simply are jealous. Jealous of someone’s success, attention and accomplishments. You know pride is starting to loosen in your life when you can celebrate with others and enjoy their success and accomplishments with them instead of being jealous.
- Obsession with appearance and other people's opinions: Pride, just as with the first disguise of criticism, disguises itself similarly with an obsession on what other people think. Lots of checking the mirror, purchasing clothes outside your budget and constant worry over what other people will say is more nasty offspring of pride. While there are healthy doses of concern over appropriate attire and being mindful to how others will feel and react, these can easily spin into a prideful obsession that can leave a person searching for validation and acceptance in all the wrong places.
- Always Right Syndrome: The most wise person in the room realizes that they don’t have all the answers. The most prideful person is convinced they can do no wrong and are pretty much always right. Quit the argument now because you’re wasting your time with a person who has ARS. If you are suffering with ARS, be slow to speak, take time to acknowledge the worthiness of others and affirm what others bring to the table. You will discover great pleasure in respecting the opinions of the people around you and honestly, people will like you more. No one likes a know it all.