The title of this article is a quote from the book of Obadiah, who was a Hebrew prophet. Obadiah proclaims a curse over the nation of Edom for their numerous sins against God. The first sin the prophet identifies is pride. In addition, the prophet makes note of violence committed against Israel; gloating over Jerusalem’s destruction; plundering and looting of Jerusalem; mistreatment of Jerusalem’s survivals; and their longtime hostility to Israel (judgment of Eden).
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.Obadiah 1:3-4
The Deadly Sin Of Pride
Pride is one of the so-called “seven deadly sins”–sins that theologians and philosophers have identified for their uniquely destructive nature. Among the seven, pride is widely regarded as the most problematic sin of all.
I like the following summary presented by NPR’s Neal Conan in the introduction to his interview with Michael Erik Dyson, on his book Pride: The Seven Deadly Sins.
Of the seven deadly sins, theologians and philosophers reserve a special place for pride. Lust, envy, anger, greed, gluttony and sloth are all bad, the sages say, but pride is the deadliest of all, the root of all evil, and the beginning of sin. But then there’s parental pride, pride in one’s work, pride for your school or your city or your country.Neal Conan
Pride, to my mind, is an inflated view of self in light of what God tells us to be true about the world.
Pride says I am better than you. Humility says we are equal before God. Pride says I know best. Humility says God knows best. Pride says I don’t care what other people say, think, or feel, even though God commands me to love them.
Pride, ironically, sometimes likes to masquerade as humility. Pride refuses to forgive others when they sin against us, but it also refuses to receive forgiveness. When we think “My sin is too serious for God to forgive,” or “I’m not worthy of being loved by God,” we reveal our belief that our standards for forgiveness and love are greater than God’s.
Make no mistake, pride isn’t loudness or assertiveness. It isn’t confidence or ambition or courage or outspokenness. Our insecurities are often what lead us to take issue with these attributes in people who may or may not be motivated by a proud heart. Pride, indeed, is a heart state. Just as a vocal outspoken leader can be humble, many people who are quiet, diffident, and soft-spoken are inwardly very proud.
Pride goes before destruction,Proverbs 16:18
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Whether our pride is accompanied by the lofty trappings of worldly success, like it was with the Edomites, or whether it looks like self-deprecation and unbelief, the end result–demise–is one and the same.
Brace yourself for one of the most eye-opening verses in the entire Bible. .
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.James 4:6
Do we think our lives will go well if God opposes, resists, and fights against us, in his own way and in his own time? That’s exactly what happens, the prophet James says, to everyone with a proud heart.
On the other hand, grace, or unmerited divine aid, favor, and support, is accessed through humility. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get.
Today, I am striving to be humble, after the example of Christ, something that has never come easy for me, but I know is the revealed way and will of God.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:29
For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.