In the culture of today’s world, pride is often looked upon as character strength, while humility a character weakness. Unfortunately, though, God and the world’s culture are usually at opposite ends of the continuum, and this is no exception. However, a short, but profound, word study reveals why God and the world’s culture disagree on these two characteristics, and why they disagree.
In the Bible 1Peter 5: 5 says, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” NASB
One of cultures book of word definitions, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, has five definitions for pride: 1- conceit, 2- justifiable self-respect, 3- elation over an act or possession, 4- haughty behavior and 5-osentatious behavior, (which refers to pretentious or an excessive display).
Now, how does the Bible, which is God’s book of definitions, respond to Merriam-Webster’s definitions of pride?
1- Conceit: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12 NASB
2- Justifiable self-respect: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”
Isaiah 5:21 NASB
3- Elation over an act or possession: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 NASB
4- Haughty behavior: “And You (God) save an afflicted person; but Your (Gods) eyes are on the haughty whom you abase.” 2 Samuel 22:28 NASB
5- Ostentatious behavior: “How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:2 NASB
The problem God has with pride is the world’s culture directs it inwardly, which falsely glorifies something fallible. (I’ll discuss that later in the article.)
In God’s book of definitions, Romans 12:3 says, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” NASB
In Matthew 5:3 He defines humility in a different context, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, (meek, humble) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” NASB
Yes, even though humility and meekness are not natural for us and are contrary to what the world’s culture says; God commands us to display these characteristics. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 NASB
The “and to walk humbly with your God” is what it’s all about, because the most important thing to God is His glory. Everything God does is for His glory. In Isaiah 48:11 He says, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And my glory I will not give to another.” NASB
Self-directed pride is sinful, because it takes from God glory that belongs to Him. In His completeness He has done it all:
• He spoke the world and everything in it into existence. Genesis 1
• He created Adam from the dust of His earth, and Eve from one of Adams ribs. Genesis 2
• He separated the water in the sea. Exodus 14: 21-30
• He flooded the entire earth. Genesis 6-8
• He healed the sick and raised the dead. Matthew 4:23,24; John 11
• He brings His elect to Himself. Romans 5:8
What does this have to do with our humility and meekness? When was the last time you did any of the above? Humility and meekness comes when we see ourselves in relation to God.