On Pride and Humility

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4–5

Anything that puts you and your opinions above God and the truths of His Word is pride, or “high-­mindedness,” as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 10:5. High-­mindedness can come in many forms, but it all boils down to being self-­focused, rather than God-­focused. Anything that you make an idol in your life, and even self-centered thoughts such as fear, guilt, worry, resentment, or insecurity — all of these things are a result of “high­-minded,” or prideful, opinions. What is pride? Pride means raising your own standards or preferences for thinking, behaving, or living, above God’s standards and precepts (Jer. 2:13; Ps. 10:1–11). It means having an inaccurate assessment of yourself, and resisting God’s standards and precepts (Isa. 14:12–15). At the core, the essence, of pride, is a self-­focused mindset — a mind constantly set on yourself (Rom. 8:5–7). Pride is so serious that the Bible actually says that God hates and opposes pride (Prov. 6:16–17; James 4:6; Prov. 15:25a; 16:5).

So what is the answer? What is the opposite of pride? It’s not thinking horrible things about yourself and focusing on how bad of a person you are — that’s still actually a form of pride, because you’re still consumed with yourself, and maintaining an inaccurate view of yourself rather than finding out and believing what God says about you. No, the opposite of pride is humility. Humility means aligning your thinking/behavior/lifestyle with the standards and precepts of God as we find in the Bible (John 14:21); it means a sober assessment of yourself in light of what God says about you. Having a mind set on Christ and others is the essence of humility (Rom. 8:6; Phil. 2:5).

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, “taking every thought captive” actually refers to the truth of Scripture taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. In other words, our responsibility is to humbly submit our thoughts and minds and attitudes to the teaching of the Bible — to allow the teachings of the Word of God to shape and define our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. It takes humility to do that; but as we submit our thoughts and lives to the teaching of the Bible, we will also gain more and more humility as we learn to view ourselves, God, and others, as God Himself does.

Every decision you make in life is ultimately either God-centered or self-centered. Which will you choose?

Thought Questions:

  • A humble person is a teachable person. When you are receiving instruction, whether at school, at church, or at work, do you find yourself constantly resisting that instruction, or feeling as though you don’t need to be taught this, it’s not important, or you already have it figured out?
  • Pride means putting yourself first — your opinions, your desires, and your preferences. How often do you do or say things simply because they will make you more comfortable, or make you look good, without thinking about how it might affect other people, your friendships, or your witness for Christ?