Pride: The Roadblock to Wisdom
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” – Romans 12:3b
The goal of the book of Proverbs is to teach wisdom, and its writers are clear that pride is a main obstacle to becoming wise. Because humility is so foundational to wisdom, we will spend two sessions on recognizing and gaining it in this series.
We all know proud people and they can be hard to be around. Proverbs says, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Proverbs 13:10). They think they are right and, generally, are not open to correction or counsel.
But, there’s another side to pride which can masquerade as self-effacement or withdrawal. God has something to say about that, too: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Those of us who are more concerned about man’s opinion of them than God’s are proud in a quieter, but equally damaging, way.
If we want to become wise, humility, not pride needs to be our focus. Humility has been described not as thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. The focus turns from ourselves and what everyone thinks of us and, instead, to God. Our self-worth comes from Him alone. When it does, we will be grateful, not proud.
God gives fair warning about what will happen to those who continue to live prideful lives.
First, we are told that eventually the proud will be disgraced. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
If we choose to be governed by pride in our decisions and our relationships, disgrace will follow. Without the advice of wise counselors and without submission to the leading of the Spirit, we inevitably will make bad decisions and the responsibility for the outcome will be all ours.
Another warning to the proud is that their home will not experience God’s protective hand. We read, “The Lord tears down the proud man’s house, but he keeps the widow’s boundaries intact” (Proverbs 15:25).
The household of a proud person will likely be filled with conflict and stress. Even when pride is disguised as self-effacement, it often evidences itself by subtly undermining others within the family by comments or behaviors.
God’s word also tells us that punishment awaits the proud. Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Very often the result of prideful arrogance is evident. The proud person who does not repent goes through life with a trail of broken relationships, financial stresses, moral failures, frustration, and separation from relationship with God.
Probably the saddest statement of all about the proud person is that he has no hope. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12). Until the proud repent, there is no hope - of change, spiritual growth, being taught, being led, relating to God. No hope of God’s blessing.
Would you rather be wise than proud? Listen to this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). The first step to wisdom is turning our eyes from ourselves to God and beginning the life-long journey of getting to know Him.
“Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” – Andrew Murray