James 4:6 | Psalm 139:23-24 | 1 John 1:9

“Don’t let it go to your head.”

As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

(James 4:6b NLT)

You may have heard those words before… but certainly they don’t apply to you. Or do they?

It’s easy to think of pride as a condition that makes someone obviously arrogant– “stuck-up”, “too big for their britches”, “snobby”, or just plain “conceited”– but that would be a tragic underestimation of this spiritually deadly vice.

Hold up! Did you just read, “spiritually deadly?”

Yes, you did. Pride is a subtle, subversive condition of the soul. It will silently rot your spirit if left unchecked. King David knew this when he wrote:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

(Psalms 139:23-24 NLT)

Ask God to search you and help you weed out destructive pride.

How can you recognize it in yourself? It can take many forms, but any time you notice yourself wanting to be more than simply a child of God, you are dealing with pride.

You may notice yourself finding faults with other people, not being able to admit when you are wrong (to yourself, even), getting defensive, or neglecting the needs of others. All of these are symptoms.

When you find pride, confess it. Tell God. Remember:

…if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

(1 John 1:9 NLT)

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Why do you think pride is harmful? What about “taking pride in your work?” Is that harmful, too?
  • Can you recall a time when your own pride kept you from personal growth? Maybe you knew you made a mistake, but didn’t want to admit it. Maybe you were afraid of looking silly, so you didn’t try something. Have you ever mistreated a friend because you were afraid of how you would look to others?
  • How might pride interfere with your relationship with God? Why might God “oppose the proud”?
  • Consider the story of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14.
    • To whom did Jesus tell this story? (v 9)
    • How did you feel when you heard the Pharisee’s prayer? (v 11-12) How is he being prideful?
    • What does God do to those who exalt themselves? (v 14)
    • When have you seen a situation like this in your group of friends?

Let it Go to Your Head: A Challenge

The Bible has quite a few things to say about pride.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: read all of the following passages and write one or two paragraphs that summarize what you have learned about God’s feelings on pride.

  • Proverbs 8:12-16
  • Proverbs 11:2
  • Proverbs 16:18
  • Proverbs 18:12
  • Proverbs 29:23
  • Ecclesiastes 7:8
  • Isaiah 2:5-11
  • Ezekiel 28:1-10
  • (Extra Credit) Psalm 73