Pride vs. Humility

God extends His grace to the humble, but resists the proud (James 4:6).

Humility expresses a genuine dependency on God and others. Humility recognizes we live the Christian life in the same manner we become Christians – by the grace of God.

To those who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). Both men appeared and sounded religious. But as the story unfolds, we quickly understand the focus of each man. The Pharisee trusted in himself and looked down on others. He was proud he was not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even the tax collector standing next to him. He looked on outward appearance and was consumed with his behavior to a fault. He spent little time evaluating the motivation behind his actions. He overlooked the fact God looks at the heart and is concerned about not only what we do, but also why we do it. The Pharisee was so rigidly self-righteous that he missed the opportunity for God to change him from the inside out. He overlooked the humility required to apply God’s grace to his life.

The tax collector, on the other hand, was keenly aware of his sinfulness, and looked to God for mercy and forgiveness. He recognized humility put him in a position to hear from God. We too, like the tax collector, understand the heart of God more clearly when we approach Him with dependence rather than smug self-sufficiency. Humility is an attitude of the heart. When God sees humility, He sees someone with whom He can entrust His grace. God responds to the humble prayer. Humility arrests the attention of God! The proud prayer is ignored, but the humble prayer is powerful. God says in His perfect timing the humble man will receive the proper recognition he deserves, while the proud man will be disgraced. There are at least three characteristic of humility we find in this parable.

First, humility is quick to confess sin and slow to point out the sin of others. The tax collector asked God to be merciful to him, a sinner. Humility asks God to surface sin, so we can repent. Pride, on the other hand, is slow to confess sin and quick to point out the sin of others. We can hear the pride in the Pharisees voice as he thanked God for not being like other men (v. 11). Outwardly, his actions looked right, but inwardly, his heart was ravaged by pride and selfishness. He was not teachable; he was not humble; he knew no compassion or mercy. To him, it was his way or no way. Pride says if you don’t look, talk, and act just like I do, you are wrong.

Second, humility asks for and receives God’s forgiveness, and in turn is quick to forgive others. Once we have received God’s forgiveness, we recognize the need to forgive others. We realize we cannot expect perfection from others until we get to heaven. A proud person, on the other hand, sees no need to ask for God’s forgiveness, nor does he forgive or seek the forgiveness of others. Pride says, “I will never forgive you.” This is where a lot of people are today. There is nothing the offending person can do to compensate for the wrong. Since the offended holds on to the wrong and does not forgive, anger, bitterness, and pride seep into his heart. Only through humility and forgiveness can the relationship ever heal.

Third, humility is content to be behind the scenes. A humble person is secure, knowing his or her service is just as important to God as the service of the one who is in the spotlight. Pride, on the other hand, insists on being in the spotlight; it wants everyone to know how much time and energy are being sacrificed for “God’s work.” Pride is always causing conflict because it insists on being the center of attention. Jesus said the proud love to hear the praises of people. Jesus also said the praises of people were their only reward – nothing more.

God hates pride. Pride made sin a reality in His creation and brought evil into the world. God has such a disdain for pride that He is willing to allow adversity in the lives of His children to inject healthy doses of humility and root it out. The tragedy, however, is some of us are clever enough to weasel our way through or around the adversity God intends to use. Through ingenuity and determination, we manipulate things in such a way as to temporarily bypass God’s plan for keeping us humble. This may work in the short run, but nobody outsmarts or outmaneuvers God forever. For a while, we may continue functioning as if nothing has changed, but eventually, what is true privately will surface publicly.

* Read more in my book: Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living.



  1. Thanks for sharing, Joe! I was “humbled” as I read it! I appreciate your truths! Blessings, Dave (“Working for Christ”)

  2. Your final paragraph says it all. God hates it so much that he must root it out. If we wiggle our way around the medicine, we’ll never get well. Great post Joe and I loved the picture you included.

  3. Reblogged this on One Bondservant's Diary and commented:
    So much of what our culture wants us to believe about ourselves runs so counter to the message of Jesus. The least among you will become the greatest. Please read Matthew 23:11 & Luke 22:26 and read this post I’ve shared.

  4. It is all so easy for me to write how true these words are. The hardest things are enacting them. I’ve been a believer all of my life and humility is still the hardest thing for me to have in my heart. Being a servant of God is the hardest thing that you can do.

  5. Being God’s servant is not always easy for me either. I will admit I am not completely free of pride and selfish desires. I thank God for His grace when I stumble!

  6. A really great article you have here my friend. May God continue to bless you in all that you all doing here in this ministry.

  7. It is kind of hard to add something to a humility/pride post 😛
    I think it is also very important to point out that the text warns us about “false humility” too which can be just as dangerous in a believer’s walk.

  8. I just realized after looking at what I wrote that it may come off as a critique – it wan’t meant that way as all. Pride, humility, false humility – they always come back to a central biblical tenet – the heart.

    1. Thanks for the clarification! Self-righteousness is dangerous because it shuts out the need for God and people.

  9. Horrible pride, always trying to creep into our lives. I ask God to keep a pride detector working through the Holy Spirit in all of us and that each time it rears its ugly head the Holy Spirit can stick a pin in pride before it puffs us up. I ask for all of us for true humility and freedom from envy along with that. Great post.

    1. Amen! The Pharisees loved the best seats in the synagogues, so they could be seen. Evidence of pride. We need to be careful.

  10. I remember a verse that talks about pride being harder to conquer than an entire city, but the battle begins with knowing the traits of humility and pride. I have found that it takes constant reminding of myself not to allow my pride to grow, and I’m grateful to God that He nudges me every time I’m tempted. We stand to lose so much by keeping our pride, so thank you for your insight!

  11. I am so glad I read this today and I am thank God for bringing me to read your blog. As soon as I saw your name pop up on my Blog I started thinking hmmm let me check his blog out and I am glad I did. Its so good to see that there are other Christians who take the word of God and honestly apply it to their lives and obey it. Thank you for sharing this scripture! I am going to reblog this!

    1. Thank you. This subject is on my mind much of the time, probably because I fall short so often!

  12. Amen! I read where someone said, “Humility is a funny thing; when you think you have it; you don’t.”
    Good post.

  13. Another great post! God is using your words to speak to me and answer ponderings that I think I have the answer to but am just not quite sure. Many are the people in a position of influence who are excluding of others not like them: long hair, wrong clothes, maybe they have an occasional drink. They point to Bible verses that would back them up but then completely skip over “Judge not”. I am going to bookmark this message and revisit as there are so many jewels of wisdom here!!

    1. Glad to hear the Lord is using my blog to speak to you. Guess what? I don’t fit the mold of a perfect Christian either!

  14. Outstanding and Totally Awesome! Did you write all of this yourself? If so, you really have a talent for getting right to the point or hitting the nail right on the head and using God’s word to do it. All I have to say other than this, is that you will make a Great pastor or evangelist!

  15. Sooo thoughtful and thought provoking. Marvelous exposition and easy read.Humility is always a challenge, even to write about it.

  16. This is a great topic. We all need to hear more on humility. It so goes against our culture, even in Christian circles. I’m glad you tackled it. It was a blessing.

    1. Thank you, my friend. I will admit I am not completely free of pride and selfish desires myself.

  17. Great topic! Our struggle as humans is placing others needs above our own. Once we understand this important teaching of Jesus, only then can we begin to truly grow. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Hi Joe!
    I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, but you are the winner of the hard copy of my book, “How & Why to Pray for Healing, Pray in Tongues & Give Prophecy”. Please email me at with your address so I may send you a copy! Thank you for entering 🙂 God bless you today with His righteousness and a hope for the future!

  19. Just wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog! Very nice entry on humility vs. pride…one of the more difficult battles of the Christian life–it’s nice to see it written out clearly and according to Scripture!

  20. This really blessed me 🙂 So in line with God’s heart. It does help you see the pride in your life. But agreeingly so, thank the Lord for His mercy and His desire to uproot all that would stand in the way of His goodness and work being done in us to will and to do unto His good pleasure 🙂 ❤

    1. Thank you. “He is God; I am not” is one of the most profound lessons we all have to learn.

  21. I have to admit the part about forgiveness really hit a nerve. That’s the one thing I have difficulties with. I do tend to hold a grudge. I’m also very strong willed and opinionated. I think my personality comes from constantly being bullied as a child and abuse suffered when I was a younger. I’m always on the defensive. Sometimes for me it’s just better to say nothing at all because I know my mouth will get me in trouble. Right now my strategy is to hold my tongue and stay away from people I can’t get along with. This is no excuse for my behavior but I think as a woman when you go through certain violent situations you never really trust other people again. For me it will be years before I’m ever back to being healed.

    1. Thanks for being honest. I understand. You were hurt and you don’t want to be hurt again. Abuse is terrible! I realize it is difficult to forgive those who hurt us and learn to trust again.

      1. Joe Thanks for understanding. I was in a domestic violence situation. I was so ashamed and guilty I did not even tell my family or close friends. Even now I tend to hide certain aspects of my life especially from other Christians because I would prefer not to be judged. I have been trying to get my life back on track and slowly things are coming together but even if you forgive the person you can never really forget. Kind of like they left an imprint.
        I did not know you suffered abuse. I’ve been thinking about getting some sort of therapy or counseling. I think anyone who has been in an abusive situation has some sort of PTSD. In certain situations I tend to over react or just plain freak out. I realize I need to address this situation before it becomes worse. At least I feel I’ve made a small amount of progress. Writing helps. That’s my therapy.

        1. Writing is therapeutic for me too! I’m glad you trusted me enough and we were able to form a friendship.

  22. I understand the point of wrongful pride..putting oneself above others…or simply thinking most time how ‘wonderful’ you are as a person…but I believe there is room for a kind of pride in a job well done, or perhaps some pride (maybe wrong) when you look at your children and think that you did an okay job (of course with God’s help)…Diane

    1. Yes there are two different types of pride. There is the willful negative pride where folks think that they are all that and a bag of chips then there is pride in ones accomplishments such as child rearing, earning your college degree, excelling at a sport, etc… Also everyone should have pride in how they present themselves. After all you would not go to school, work or church, dirty, smelly, haired uncombed, clothes stinky, etc… People who are slovenly and unkempt tend to suffer from depression.
      I can still hear my parents telling me to sit up straight, walk tall and be proud of myself, family & my culture. That kind of pride is positive, useful and fruitful.

  23. Good post!! It is so true. I think pride is the hardest thing to overcome because it stealthily creeps in. True humility is something that only God can teach us through experiences in life that bring us to our knees.

  24. Thank you. “He is God; I am not” is one of the most profound lessons we all have to learn.

  25. Thanks for the explanation. And thank you for visiting and liking Daylight Tune Ministry blog.

  26. “God has such a disdain for pride that He is willing to allow adversity in the lives of His children to inject healthy doses of humility and root it out.” Outstanding. Keep fanning the flame.

  27. Very Beautiful brother Joe!
    Jesus (AS) said to his disciples; ‘I have a wish that I want you to grant me’, so they replied; ‘It is granted, O spirit of Allah.’ So he got up, and began to wash their feet, at which they said: ‘We are more worthy of doing this for you than you for us!’ So he said: ‘Among people, the most worthy of serving people is the scholar. I am humbling myself in such a manner so that after me you may humble yourselves among people too, with humility just like my humility towards you. It is through humility that wisdom flourishes, not through pride, just as vegetation grows on flat lands and not on mountains.’ [al-Kafi v.1, p.29, no.6]
    God Bless you always!

  28. Thank you Pastor Joe for the invite to visit you I’m not sure I saw this Post before but answered one simular of yours ( see below ) but I thought this was very good and I agree, we are to have true humility, Love and respect for others concidering them better then us, meaning we are willing to serve them, yes even wash their feet but we can’t do this in the flesh it is impossiable that is why it has to be put to death, and we can’t Love God or others without His empowering .

    We are to have Godly Pride not wordly pride, to take Pride in our position in Christ Jesus and value others as people of worth who Jesus died for, even knowing those who would reject Him. God also tells us to rebuke, warn and correct those in the Church and if we Love them we will, to apathetically watch someone die Spiritually and not warn them is not Love even if they reject what we say and us.

    As we know, there are two types of Pride, Godly Pride and worldly or fleshy pride.

    What Worldly pride is…

    Mark 7:22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

    1 John 2:15- 17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    What Godly Pride is …

    Galatians 6: 4 Each one should understand their own actions. Then they can take Pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to others.

    2 Corinthians 8:24 show these men the proof of your Love and the reason for our Pride in you, so that the Churches can see it.

    2 Corinthians 5:11-12 Because we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. It is plain to God what we are, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are giving you an opportunity to take Pride in us not trying to commend ourselves again to you , so that you have an answer for those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

    Romans 11:13b I take Pride in my Ministry.

    As a Christian I also take Godly Pride in my Ministry to those who are in darkness, and rejoice with those who are not, as I’m sure you do too Pastor Joe.

    Take Care – Christian Love from both of us – Anne

    1. Good distinction between worldy and godly pride, Anne! I especially like the counsel in Galatians 6:4. When I do my very best, there is no need to compare myself with others. People make comparisons for many reasons. Some point out others’ flaws in order to feel better about themselves. Others simply want reassurance that they are doing well. When I am tempted to compare, I look at Jesus Christ. His example inspires me to do my very best and His loving acceptance comforts me when I fall short of expectations.
      1 John 2:15-17 is a great passage to understand worldliness. If you are interested, I wrote a post about a year ago on that passage here:
      God bless!

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