Positive and Negative Pride

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Pride is an insidious spiritual cancer. It lies at the root of all sin and self-centeredness, producing a profound darkness in the minds of those who tolerate it.

Some forms of pride are obvious (at least when they occur in the lives of others). Arrogance, boasting, haughtiness and snobbery are all fairly easy to see. Consequently, we tend to equate pride with such glaring manifestations. But there is another form of pride which is doubly dangerous; it is a pride which masquerades as humility.

The essence of pride is self-centeredness. This can be clearly seen in the arrogant. “Look at everyone watch me. See them laugh at my jokes. I’ll bet they envy my good taste in clothes, etc.” An arrogant man has a high opinion of himself and seeks to be the center of his known universe at all times.


But someone who has a low opinion of himself can be every bit as self-centered. “Look at everyone watch me. See them stare at me when I tell jokes. Why are they laughing at my clothes?” This person has a low opinion of himself and also seeks to be the center of his known universe.

It is unfortunate that much modern counseling has exacerbated the problem. People are told they most love themselves before they can love others; they must develop a better self-image. Such nonsense hardly deserves the name. Jesus did not say, “Take up your mirror daily, and come follow me.”

To focus your eyes on anything except the Lord Jesus is spiritually suicidal. If your attention is centered on yourself (whether you see a worm or a superstar is utterly beside the point) you are a priest in the cult of self-worship. A holy life will be God-centered, not self-centered. The antithesis of such holiness is the egocentric demand to be the Main Attraction.

Those with low self-esteem are so proud that ehy would rather be miserable and the center of attention than anything else. Those caught in this trap are in great danger because their spiritual problem has not been properly identified. Consequently, the biblical solution of abandonment to the love of God is neglected.

When we receive His love, He teaches us to love Him in return and that love overflows to our neighbor. What you give up is returned. What you seek to keep, you lose. The one who grasps at self esteem will lose what little he has. The one who surrenders himself and denies himself will be joyful and well-adjusted but he will not notice his “good self-image;” his thoughts are elsewhere.

Originally published in Roots by the River, a publication of Communitry Christian Ministries, in September of 1984.

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