Posted by: nmontague | June 18, 2010

Pride and Humility

I’ve been pondering the virtue of humility the last few days. In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that pride was one of the greatest problems facing our world.  But what is Pride? The best definition I’ve seen on Pride comes from a talk by Ezra Taft Benson “Beware of Pride“. He states as follows:

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” (emphasis added)

C.S. Lewis stated, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)

We see this all throughout society. We see it with money. Rich pitted against Poor. The Rich think they are better than the Poor because they have  money. The Poor think they are better than the Rich because they don’t. It’s not a vice found in just one group of people, it’s universal regardless to our status in society.

We see it again in academics. Many people don’t care about gaining knowledge, just gaining more of it than others. Or showing that they have more of it than others. (Ironically, this is usually a sign that they don’t have as much as they think). The problem here is that by being proud of what you know, it blinds you to what you don’t know. And you don’t see what others can teach you because you think you know more than they do.

The proud are more concerned with “What will men think of me?” than by doing what’s right regardless the social cost. (Which is rarely as severe as we think).  They are focused more on image or how things look than in the substance of issues. I think this is one of the biggest flaws in politicians. Because of the concern for what others think of us, the proud lose their independence from the world. We become dependent on others for our self esteem and self worth. Our happiness depends on how others view us rather than on how we view ourselves or how God views us.

Pride is an easy vice to see in others, but one of the most difficult to see in ourselves. It manifests intself in fault finding, back biting, gossip, envying, coveting, jealousy, living beyond our means, lack of forgiveness, and a lack of gratitude to others. Pride is the foundation for most of the sin and corruption in our society.

Likewise, Pride stunts our growth because it creates barriers to learning and growing. When we have a heart full of pride, it’s much more difficult to change the bad things in our life. It’s harder to build virtue. It’s harder to just learn new things. In fact, pride prevents us from seeing these very weaknesses in ourselves.

The cure for the Vice of Pride is the Virtue of Humility. Humility is the opposite of Pride. While Pride stunts growth, humility allows growth. The humble person acknowleges their weaknesses, they are able to see themselves and the world around them as they really are. As Pride’s source is emnity between men, Humility’s source is compassion. We build Humility as we look at each other as equals.

There are two ways to be humble. We can choose humble ourselves. Or we can be humbled by circumstances in life. I can promise you from experience, that choosing to be humble is much less painful than being humbled by life.  If we can develop the virtue of humility in our life, we will be able to reach greater heights than we otherwise might.


1) Make a choice in your life to actively be humble. If you see an area of your life where you see the symptoms of pride, search your heart and root it out.

2) Make a choice to view your fellow men and women as your equals. Recognize the times in your words and thinking when you put others down and instead, lift them up.

3) Can you recieve honest evaluation and criticism without exploding in anger? Reflect on what that is.

4) Provide selfless service towards others.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: