“Pride goes before a fall.”
We have all heard this phrase many times and have repeatedly been reminded not to be prideful, but to instead strive for humility. It’s great advice and is even addressed throughout the Bible.
Proverbs 11:2 (NLT) – “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Proverbs 16:5 (NLT) – “The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.”
Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) – “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
James 4:6 (NIV) – “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Humility is a desirable virtue and pride is to be avoided; the problem is that we often focus more on what we don’t want to be than on what we desire to be. We try to rid ourselves of anything resembling pride with the assumption that once all pride is gone, humility will remain. When the focus shifts from seeking humility to avoiding pride, it’s easy to end up with no confidence or sense of worth. It is important to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, but there is a fine line between being able to laugh at yourself and making fun of yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being self-deprecating, but when we become self-deprecating, we can unintentionally destroy any confidence or sense of worth we may have, no matter how noble our intentions.
We assume that humility and confidence are incompatible, but there is a difference between being prideful and being confident of your worth because you understand that God created you and values you. Being prideful is not having too much confidence – it’s believing that you are good enough on your own or that you are more important than others. Humility is understanding that I am no better than you; that, without God, there is nothing truly good about me. Being humble has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you. It is placing others not above myself, but in place of myself.
Humility and pride cannot co-exist, but humility and confidence complement each other perfectly, so we should strive to live with a humble confidence that comes from knowing and understanding your value and worth and realizing that they come from God and not from anything you have done or could do. It comes from believing that God is in control and will always be with his people. When we have a correct understanding of who God is and how great God is, we will realize that any sense of pride we may feel about ourselves will pale in comparison to what we will feel when we have lived our lives in a way that makes God proud of us and we hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”