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You may have never been taught how to identify the symptoms of pride in your life. In fact, you may have been taught that pride was a good thing. Your parents and friends might have told you to be proud of who you are and that your accomplishments in life will bring you happiness and respect. But when life gets tough, and you go through trials, you realize this is not true. You may have experienced taking pride in your accomplishments doesn’t help you when you are going through a hard time in life. The admiration of others only brings momentary happiness. When you do life in your own strength, you feel lonely and anxious.
You Need to Take Steps to Learn How to Identify the Symptoms of Pride in Your Life
Proud people are more concerned with being right, looking good, and boasting about their accomplishments.
A prideful person doesn’t have time or the energy to look out for the interests of others because they are too busy creating a life that makes them look good.
Prideful people want more fruitful and safe relationships in their lives, but they don’t know how to achieve this goal.
A proud heart is too busy pleasing people instead of living with the fear of the Lord, and they have little concern about how their pride is negatively affecting their spiritual life.
Pride will dig up any sort of seeds planted in the believer’s life and relationships and create a life of emptiness and pain.
When you look at your life, it can be challenging to see the areas of your life that have been taken over by pride.
In Proverbs 6:16-19 it says:
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (NIV)
It might be easy to identify others’ sins as pride, but we often have a blind spot towards the pride in our hearts. When we look at Proverbs chapter six, we can see pride can be incredibly hurtful to God, and we know pride is hurtful to the people around us.
Signs of Pride in Your Life
The truth is every human being on this planet suffers from the disease of pride to some extent. In this article, I want to talk about what pride is and the symptoms of pride. Throughout the Bible, a proud heart is considered the root cause of sin. It can lead to disobedience and rebellion against God’s commands. Some signs of the sin of pride in your life might include:
- Arrogance – Merriam-Webster dictionary defines arrogance as an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims or assumptions. Your attitude towards other people matters. In Proverbs 21:24 (WEB), it says, “The proud and arrogant man—“Scoffer” is his name—he works in the arrogance of pride.
- Selfish Ambition – This is when you are more concerned about what you want in life. You have little concern for the needs of those around you. Philippians 2:3 (ESV) states, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
- Boasting – This is when you share with the world about how proud you are. Boasting is usually done with an attitude of “look what I have accomplished in my life.” This is done in a way that makes you feel superior to others. Boasting is vain conceit in disguise. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- Rebellion Against God – This might be a difficult sign of pride to identify. In some instances, rebellion might be obvious, and in others, not so much. The Pharisees had spiritual pride and thought they were better than everyone else. Their pride made them rebellious towards God because they were unloving and uncaring. You can only identify your willful acts against God through a humble heart.
- Self-Righteousness – You might put a lot of faith in the blessings in your life and take great pride in them. However, scripture is clear that our self-righteous acts do not make us right with God. Self-righteousness is a problem because it can quickly lead to arrogance; both are signs of pride.
In Proverbs 16:18 it says:
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (ESV)
The Bible consistently warns against having a sense of superiority that leads to disregarding God and others. God’s Word encourages us to have a humble spirit and recognize our dependence on God’s grace. The essence of living a humble Christian life includes using our talents and gifts to help others. Let’s look at some of the symptoms of pride found in the Bible. This will help you identify the symptoms of pride in your own life.
Symptoms of Pride in the Bible
While pride does have several different meanings, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pride is defined as an exaggerated self-esteem or conceit. When you look at the examples of pride in the Bible, you will notice the main symptom of pride is the feeling of superiority. Feeling like you are special and deserve special treatment is the complete opposite of humility. It is important to make sure you do not let undetected pride go unchecked in your life.
1 John 2:16 states, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t the Father’s, but is the world’s.”
Lack of Humility
Humility can be a misunderstood character trait. You might think humility means letting people walk all over you and treat you poorly. Sometimes people think humility is devaluing themselves.
Ralph W. Stockman once said: “True humility is intelligent self-respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.”
Humility is recognizing that while you continue to press forward in this life, it does not mean you are superior. Living a life with as much humility as possible, we need to dig out the sinful pride in our hearts.
Everyone is unique, and we all have different gifts and talents. Life is viewed and experienced from billions of different perspectives. The truth is every human being has value, and everyone has room to grow and mature. Humility is about recognizing this truth in ourselves and others.
Proverbs 15:33 (ESV) says: The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
If you are having a hard time in life, then rest in the fear of the Lord to find wisdom. Having a humble heart will give you peace and wisdom.
Resistance to Correciton
We like the comfortable moments of life. Correction makes us feel uncomfortable and insecure. Our initial reaction to the correction is to justify our actions instead of listening to the other person’s concerns. We want to influence others’ perceptions of us through what we say, not what we do.
God’s Word talks about having a teachable heart. This is because resistance to correction can harm your team at work, friendships, and marriage. As parents, we often talk about how our children need to have a teachable heart. However, parenting also requires the parents to be open to correction and improving their parenting skills.
In Proverbs 12:15 (ESV), it is clear we need to listen to the counsel of others, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Correction is not fun, nor is it comfortable. When you have a prideful heart, you think you do not need to make the necessary changes. Blame is the name of the game with pride. Pride can be used as a defense mechanism against correction if you are sensitive to criticism. Low self-esteem and low self-worth often hide behind pride and can prevent growth in your heart and relationships.
Remember, nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes. But the biggest mistake you will ever make is to put a wall of pride up against correction. You will miss out on opportunities for growth if you never take the time to learn from your mistakes. The best defense against the sin of pride is to be open to receiving feedback from others. Being open to correction from your peers will create fruitful relationships.
This is easier said than done because if you are struggling with low self-esteem or low self-worth. When you finally let that wall down, you might be tempted to become a people pleaser. Moving away from pride and being open to correction means having the courage to be yourself and shift towards becoming a better version of yourself.
Now there is a difference between someone correcting you and when they are criticizing and judging you. Let’s dive more into this next symptom of pride.
Critical and Judgemental Attitude
I’m not going to lie; this is what I struggle with most regarding pride. I point out the things that other people need to correct a lot. This is a challenge for me, and “biting my tongue” when a critical and judgemental attitude arises is often necessary and requires a lot of prayer.
In my personal life, the critical judgemental attitude often rears its ugly head with exasperated irritation, and I don’t hide it very well. How can I be annoyed with the minor requests people make of me? Why don’t they know I’ve already processed this, and they are just wasting my time by asking this question? Y’all, the struggle is SO real in my life. This form of pride in my life leads me to the terrible temptation of belittling the struggles of others. I am often unwillingly faced with my sinful nature when my loved ones ask me the wrong question at the wrong time, or worse when someone asks me to do something that I am responsible for doing, but my mood does not want to do it at that moment.
But when I am honest with myself, I know this is due to a prideful heart. A critical and judgemental attitude is the core definition of pride in my life. As I mentioned in the previous section – everybody makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect, especially me. I have had to make intentional efforts to learn how to better communicate my requests without criticizing or judging other people. One thing I have learned is when I am able to receive the love and grace God has for me, I am able to move in the power of The Holy Spirit and give more grace and love instead of criticism and judgment. It’s nice to remember we all struggle with pride, and we all need God’s grace in our lives.
Moving away from criticizing and judging those around you can be difficult, but you can take practical steps to get there. I have made great attempts to improve my communication skills. I have had to memorize different ways to make a request, and I have had to learn to respect other people’s boundaries.
Unwillingness to Serve
Unwillingness to serve is one of the sneaky symptoms of the infection of pride in a Christian’s life. Serving deals with your own heart and causes you to see where you are lacking in your spiritual walk. God’s Word is clear that Christians have a responsibility to use their gifts and talents to serve others. As shown in the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), Jesus shares with us that those who bury their talents out of fear of punishment will not receive a reward; in fact, Jesus mentions they are punished.
You may attribute your unwillingness to serve to fears, doubts, and insecurity. The reasons for an unwillingness to serve can be a difficult situation based on many factors, hurts, and struggles in your life. I know we all go through our moments where serving stretches us and takes us out of our comfort zone. However, getting to the point where you feel like you don’t have to do the hard things (face your fears, be uncomfortable, and look out for the interests of others) and serve is where the sickness of pride sneaks into your Christian walk.
Jesus modeled serving others, and as He washed His disciple’s feet, He said, “For I have given you an example, that you should also do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15 WEB) Serving is always challenging, but it is something we have been called to do. A spiritually proud person will deny this fact in their walk and find many excuses not to serve. The hardest part about serving is letting go of our own comfort and letting our discomfort prune and refine our lives. We have to sacrifice our time, talents, and efforts and move past all of our fears to get to a place where we are truly sharing the good news with those around us.
Nothing destroys a relationship faster than someone who is defensive. It is not easy to receive correction, but having a defensive posture is a good sign there is pride in your life and your heart. Defensive hearts are stubborn hearts. Being defensive makes it impossible for someone to talk to you and address the issues hurting the other person, which are probably hurting you, too. You might also be defending something you want to keep in your life that is not good for you.
Defensiveness creates a cycle of self-justification for the things that hurt you and others. This is a dangerous place to be in life and in your relationships. There is a good reason why Jesus said to get the log out of your eye before trying to get the speck out of someone else’s eye. Moving away from pride and towards self-awareness will help you to move away from being defensive. A humble man knows defensiveness is a wall preventing great success in his life.
The Importance of Identifying Pride In Your Life
The fact is if nothing changes, nothing changes. Do you want a better marriage? Good friendships? Fulfillment in your spiritual walk and be fruitful in your spiritual gifts? Do you want to advance in your career or ministry?
Breaking the pride in your life will help with every single one of these areas of your life. Addressing your own pride can be scary, and it can be sad because when you have leaned on your pride for so long, you will need to find your identity in something or Someone else (i.e. Jesus.)
In Proverbs 21:2 (ESV), it says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
In God’s goodness, we move away from spiritual pride and having an arrogant spirit, and we learn what it truly means to be children of God. Fully loved, covered in His grace, and made for the purpose of serving others and sharing the good news.
In Romans 12:3 (ESV), the Apostle Paul states, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Being real and digging up the secret pride in our hearts will create a life that is worthy of honor and fruitfulness in all that we do.
Overcoming Pride and Walking in God’s Grace
To walk in God’s grace, we need to tear down the walls of pride. The first step is knowing what pride is and learning to identify areas of pride in your life. This will help you learn to walk with wisdom and repair your relationships.
If you’re ready to tear down the walls of pride and experience God more fully, Breaking Pride is for you. Breaking Pride will take you from hurting to healing through a practical reading of what pride may look like in your life and how to break free. Click here to start reading today!
Learn more about the author, Heather Bixler, by clicking here.