Learning about the sin of pride and arrogance

Published 7:28 pm Thursday, September 19, 2019


Religion Columnist

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, sheer guts plus arrogance; it’s Yiddish and no other word, or language, can do it justice. A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for a dollar each. Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and as he passed the pretzel stand he would leave her $1, but never take a pretzel.

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This offering went on for more than 3 years. The two of them never spoke. One day as the young man passed the old lady’s stand and left his dollar as usual. The pretzel lady spoke to him for the first time in over 3 years. Without blinking an eye, she said, “They’re $1.25 now.”

The movie “Pride” focuses on the pride needed by some inner city youth to believe in themselves and become a champion swim team. Pride becomes a positive force to help the swimmers rise above their perceived limitations. If you have played competitive sports, you likely have heard coaches exhort you repeatedly to “have some pride” and not allow yourself to be defeated.

Christians associate pride more often with unattractive synonyms like “arrogance,” “vanity” or “hubris.” The Catholic Church traditionally lists pride among the “Seven Deadly Sins.” In fact, many of the world’s major religions consider pride a sin, or an undesirable attribute. The Bible calls us to be humble as in the text from Psalm 10:4, “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

British intellectual C.S. Lewis once said: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” Singer Mac Davis had a hit song in the 1970s that featured the chorus: “Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cuz I get better lookin’ each day …”

I think pride has become a very deadly sin in our modern culture. A poll was taken that asked Americans what they thought was their main purpose in life. The responses were interesting. You would hope some might say, “To make a contribution to society,” or “To have a meaningful life.” However, most people said, “The main purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment.” It’s interesting to note that 50 percent of those polled identified themselves as born-again Christians.

According to the Bible, the purpose of life is not enjoyment and personal fulfillment. The Bible teaches that we are put on this earth to bring glory to God. This insight into life is critical for us to live a meaningful life.  In Isaiah 43:7 we read, “All who claim me as their God will come, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them” (NLT). Therefore, we are to glorify God in all that we do with our lives.

Sometimes we think that God has given us this life to do what we will. We think time, money, possessions, power, family, and the other things we claim in life belong to us. We will give some back to God. In fact, God has given us everything that we have so we can use it to glorify him.

Do you struggle with excessive pride?  Are you guilty of giving God your leftovers as if everything you have belongs to you?  Are you using your resources and talents for his glory?  Do you spend time regularly thanking God for all he has given you? Can you recognize true humility in others?  Have you seen such humility in yourself?

Replacing pride with humility is not easy, nor is living our lives to glorify God.  Both promise to give us a much more meaningful life. Therefore, I highly recommend that you take seriously the temptation to pride and arrogance and study this more deeply.  Read a book about humility for example. When I read “The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility,”by Thomas A. Jones and Michael Fontenot, I learned so much about the sin of pride and arrogance.  It doesn’t really matter which book you read on humility.  Doing any study at all will make you a humbler Christian. 

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles go to lagrangepres.com.