Pride Is Dangerous
ARE you drawn to people who give the appearance of always being right? Rather, are you not repelled by those who continually boast about their abilities, achievements, wealth or position? Does it annoy you that some people are very quick to point out the mistakes of others but refuse to acknowledge their own, even taking offense when some failing is called to their attention?
Yes, such expressions of pride repel and irritate. There can be no question that pride has a bad effect on others, tearing down rather than building up. It can give rise to hard feelings and may eventually ruin good relationships with fellowmen.
Just what is pride? It is inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable feeling of superiority as to one’s talents, wisdom, beauty, wealth and rank. It usually displays itself outwardly by a haughty, conceited, self-important bearing.
As pride is a common fault among imperfect men, we do well to control it and thereby avoid its damaging effects. This requires that we develop or maintain a heartfelt recognition of the fact that pride has no sound basis. Regardless of race, nationality, education, abilities, achievements or economic circumstances, all humans are sinners and the offspring of sinners. That is no cause for boasting, is it?
Yet someone might say, ‘I have worked hard for the position or prominence that I now enjoy.’ But does that give him any basis for being proud? Well, did he give himself the capacity to develop some talent or ability? If he had been born with great mental or physical limitations, would his best efforts have enabled him even to come near to his present achievements? An argument recorded in the Holy Scriptures gives the right balance on this. We read: “Who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?”—1 Cor. 4:7.
Besides a proper evaluation of self, respect for the dignity of fellow humans is vital in controlling pride. The Bible’s counsel is: “[Do] nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you.”—Phil. 2:3.
It is good for the Christian to recognize that other fellow believers may have certain qualities superior to his own. They may be exemplary in showing love, kindness, sympathy or consideration. Years of Scriptural study may have given some an excellent grasp of Bible principles and their application to daily living. While others may not be particularly outstanding in knowledge, they may have had much valuable experience in life. Something can be learned from them, too, even if it is just a matter of coming to recognize that there may be more than one way of looking at matters. This will prevent one from making the mistake of trying to fit everyone into the same mold and being overbearing in making decisions or in turning down suggestions.
For a man to make another feel low or inferior because of considering himself superior in knowledge, abilities or experience is dangerous. In the Christian congregation, for example, a ministerial servant might approach an elder with a suggestion. Now, what might be the result if the elder brushed him off without giving due consideration to his suggestion, implying that the ministerial servant was talking out of turn? Would not the ministerial servant feel hurt and be saddened about having been misunderstood? At the same time the display of pride, though minor, may lower the ministerial servant’s view of the elder. In having had his motivations questioned for no valid reason, the ministerial servant might conclude consciously or subconsciously that the elder’s judgment as a whole may not be the best. Being hurt over what has happened, he may pour out his heart to a close friend and that friend’s view may likewise be adversely affected for a time.
The example of Jesus Christ is certainly one worthy of imitation. He did not let ‘knowledge puff him up.’ (1 Cor. 8:1) Though he had all the correct answers, he did not alienate others by calling attention to his superior ability, knowledge, experience and wisdom. He did not make his disciples think that after his leaving them they would never be able to do the work to the extent that he had done it. To the contrary, he expressed confidence in them and accorded them honor, saying to his disciples: “Most truly I say to you, He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these, because I am going my way to the Father.” (John 14:12) And as a body, the disciples of Jesus Christ did do works on a greater scale than he had done and for a longer period of time.—Compare Matthew 5:14.
Now, if Jesus as a perfect man could voice such confidence regarding believers, why should any imperfect man conclude that others simply cannot do what he can? The man who reflects such proud thinking makes things harder for himself and others. He discourages others from wanting to work with him because they are made to feel inferior and undeserving of confidence. As a result, they are robbed of a measure of personal interest.
Especially dangerous, however, is a dominantly proud “spirit.” It causes those possessing it to resent valid criticism, correction or discipline, in fact, to reject the counsel of God’s Word. This leads them into following a way of life that is bound to bring ruin to themselves. The Bible proverb aptly puts it: “A man repeatedly reproved but making his neck hard will suddenly be broken, and that without healing.” (Prov. 29:1) This is so because the dominantly proud person places himself in opposition to God and what He looks for in those whom He accepts as His servants. As the Bible says: “All of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Pet. 5:5.
It is vital, therefore, that Christians work hard in keeping pride under control. Not only can the proud person harm others, but he may also lose out on God’s approval and life. Truly pride is dangerous.