Signs of Pride Part -2

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  1. Seeks control (leadership/supremacy/desire to dominate)

Pride seeks to be on top, to rule and lord over others. It has a tendency to control and dominate people using their authority.

Nebuchadnezzar used his authority over people to control them as he wished.

“Da 5:19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.

Da 5:20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory”

In his pride he humbled those he wanted to humble and promoted whom he wanted to promote. This is the danger of deadly combination of pride and authority. They control and treat people as they wish with prejudice and favoritism but not in the fear of God. Human beings were never meant to be controlled by another human. If a leader demands that everyone must listen to him and punishes directly or indirectly for not listening it is a sign of this attitude to control or exercising authority. That was the spirit of Babylonian kings.

Jesus taught His disciples a different principle of leadership when they desired the highest position of authority.

 Mt 20:25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Mt 20:26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

Mt 20:27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

Satans’ fall originated from this desire to take the highest position as God to control everyone. Only the sovereign God has the complete right to control us. Pride tempts us to seek higher positions in work place or even in church/ministry and tries to dominate others. Trying to control people using our authority is a subtle form of witchcraft.

This is true for every God given authority like the authority of parents on children, husband over wife, rulers on citizens, masters on servants, higher officials on subordinates, leaders on members and pastors on congregation.

However, this must not be confused with authority exercised in fear of God for correcting and reproving someone under our authority. It is done in Godly love to bring repentance and not in arrogance. If the motive behind use of authority is selfishness and if authority is used without love, it is the fruit of pride.

Peter emphasizes the same and appeals to the elders or leaders “Not lording it over those entrusted to you”.

 1Pe 5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder…..:

1Pe 5:2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—

1Pe 5:3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Note that Peter appeals elders of church to be examples to the flock instead. His advice to the early church elders was “Be shepherds and not dictators”.


Beware of misusing authority

Be an Example


  1. Rebels authority:

Pride cannot accept anyone above and refuses to submit.

Exodus accounts that Miriam was a prophetess and she sang prophetic song when Israel crossed over Red sea.

Ex 15:20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.

Ex 15:21 Miriam sang to them….

Yet Miriam was leprous when spoke against Moses. Did she commit such a big crime to be punished by God? What was her sin?

We can see this from her statement.

Nu 12:2 “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.

She was proud to be a prophetess through whom God speaks and hence considered herself equal to Moses. Probably she thought even I and Aaron are equally leaders. Pride was her sin. Her pride did not allow her to accept Moses as leader above her. She failed to understand that God has chosen Moses as their leader above them and not equal to them.

Korah, Dathan and Abiram could not learn this lesson from Miriam’s experience. They rebelled against God instituted authority of Moses. Their pride was also expressed as complaining, murmuring and rebellion against Moses like Miriam.

Nu 16:3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’S assembly?”

They committed the same mistake what Miriam did and we see that they even said the same statements. “The whole community is holy…. and the LORD is with them”. They considered themselves as equal to Moses thinking “Lord is with them”. They could not accept Moses as leader “above them”. They ask Moses “why do you set yourselves above ?“.

Pride will not accept anyone to be “above us” and hence will not submit.

Are we finding it difficult to accept someone “above us”? Submission does not depend on the qualification of the leader. It depends upon God’s choice.

1Pe 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

After stating “be submissive to those who are older” Peter says “clothe yourselves with humility”. Submissiveness requires humility. In other words, there is a strong connection between rebellion and pride. Unwillingness to submit to authority and elders is a sign of pride.

 On the contrary, we see that Moses was humble and hence God was angry for speaking against him.  Nu 12:3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth).

Nu 12:8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

Nu 12:9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.

Lord asks everyone to submit to governing authorities, wives to husbands, children to parents, church members to leaders and younger ones to elders.

Ro 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

1Pe 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,

1Pe 2:14 or to governors,

1Pe 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

Eph 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.

We can see how many times God has commanded to submit. If we find it difficult to submit to authorities, elders, parents, husbands and leaders, it is because of pride. This does not mean that we must submit and obey when it is against God’s law. Our supreme authority is God alone and we are to submit to Him first. Rebellion against God is the greatest sin. Devil was successful in enticing Eve to disobey and rebel against God saying “you will be like God” (Gen:3:5). Satan does not want to submit “under” God but wants to be “equal” to God.

Heb 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Under God’s sovereignty, we are to submit to leaders. Daniel did not obey king’s decree because he was under submission to God first. When authorities demand us to disobey God, we can to be bold enough to say “No”.

Beware of rebellion

Submit to God first and be submissive to authorities above you

 2.Feels Superior

Pride feels superior and hence puts others down. It mocks, accuses, blames and hurts people. If there is a tendency to do any of these, there is pride. We generally look down on others based on their looks, behavior, character, achievements, talents, possessions and knowledge. This attitude penetrates in spiritual circles too.

Pr 21:24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.

Those who mock, ridicule or accuse others suffer from chronic superiority complex. It is an indication that they do not value people as God’s image.

  1. Not showing mercy:

Self-righteous people have the spirit of proud Pharisees who condemn, scorn and punish people. They are quick to judge and punish others’ mistakes. Those who think they are spiritual enough, treat sinners, unbelievers and other immature believers with contempt, as if they are inferior. They consider themselves better or holier or more spiritual.

Mt 16:6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Mt 23:4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders…

Jesus accused them of not showing Justice, mercy and faithfulness to people (Mt:23:23 and of “self-indulgence” (Mt 23:25).

Mt 23:23 “But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness”

Do we consider ourselves more spiritual than someone else and condemn people? Then we have forgotten our past and the grace of God showered upon us. We have taken credit for the righteousness of Jesus that was clothed upon us.

Jesus had the worst vocabulary for them. He calls them blind guides, fools, hypocrites, white washed tombs, snakes and brood of vipers. They claim to be guides being blind themselves. They were called hypocrites because they teach what they never practice. He rebukes them as white washed tombs as they appear holy before men but are unholy before God. They are as poisonous as snakes. They deceive people by disguising themselves as righteous.

Mt 23:28 “on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”

1.Categorizing people:

Also, Pharisee spirit derides and rejects those who do not fit “their category” like nationality, caste, color, status etc.

To break their prejudice against “gentiles” and “Samaritans”, Jesus narrated the parable of good Samaritan and described the meaning of the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

How many times we show prejudice in churches and work places? We are biased to some because they belong to “our category” and reject some who do not fit this category.

  • Competitive:

Pride tends to be competitive and tries to mocks at others’ efforts. Spiritual pride mocks and criticizes other servants of God, ministries and churches. It originates from a deep and hidden attitude of superiority. Pharisees saw Jesus as a competitor and not as a savior. In spite of excelling in scriptural knowledge, they failed to see “The Messiah” for whom they were waiting. It is sad that their superiority complex dominated so much that it blinded them from seeing Jesus, while gentiles could recognize. They mocked Jesus as “prince of demons”.

Mt 9:34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Pharisee spirit is competitive and hence dangerous. We can have the highest biblical knowledge and yet miss Jesus. The Church of God is the body of Jesus which is one single entity and not divided. Those who are competitive or feel superior can never be a part of it. It has to work together, move together, breathe together and be One to glorify Christ. Churches and ministries are to complement each other – not compete and accuse each other.

Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Phil 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Phil 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Phil 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

Phil 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness

Jesus being the very nature of God did not consider himself superior over others. What a role model we have.

Beware of superiority complex

Be merciful and consider other better

  1. Seeks attention:

A proud heart always needs attention.

Do we expect approval of people rather than God? We want people to give more importance to us.  How much we long to be called, to be seen and heard. We seek to be invited, greeted, wished, enquired and honored. We desire our names and photos to be displayed. It is in the fallen human sinful nature to seek attention to self. But a transformed Christian should get rid of this attitude and have the mind of Christ.

  1. Seeks Honor:

We want to be honored by people. We aspire for the front seats and most respectable or honorable positions. Even Pharisees did the same.

Mt 23:6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;

Mt 23:7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

Mt 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled.

Do we seek more attention? Do we expect others to wish or come to us seeking help?

Do we try to please leaders or people in position to get their attention?

Then we are the Pharisees.

  1. Seeks to Show:

Jesus warns us in several places that whatever is done to “show” people is not acknowledged by Father. He commands us not to do anything to be seen and honored.

Mt 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;


Mk 12:40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Mt 6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Mt 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Mt 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.

Lk 14:8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor,


Do we have “showy” attitude like Pharisees? Are we doing things before people to be seen and honored? We will be called as hypocrites and white washed tombs by Jesus.

  • Humility of Jesus:

On the contrary, Jesus always fled from people who tried to honor him.

Jn 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus always wanted to honor the Father and did not exalt himself. Hence, the Father exalted him to the highest place- to the right hand of Father.

Jn 7:18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him

Mt 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Beware of “being seen and honored”

Be careful to honor God alone

Madhu Mathi

Dr. Madhumathi.J, works as a scientific consultant in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) headquarters, New Delhi. She completed Ph.D in Biotechnology from Anna University and Post doctoral study from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. She works as a part time evangelist and is involved in youth ministry