There’s much written throughout Scripture about pride, because the Lord wants us to take it as seriously as He does. “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.” (Prov 16:5)
When we allow the seeds of pride to take root in our heart, we have planted that which will ultimately invite the wrath of God. One proud man or woman cannot succeed against God, but neither can many proud men or women. Even if they join forces against God as they did at Babel (Gen 11:1-9), they will not go unpunished, even as at Babel.
If you believe wrathful is synonymous with vengeful, then it might be hard to reconcile the love of God with the wrath of God. But the wrath of God is His righteous judgment against sin, which He can’t tolerate. Because He has provided a way for us to be washed as white as snow from our sin (Is 1:18) so that we can commune with Him, there is really no conflict between the two. We have the choice of repenting of our sin and being accepted into His family or experiencing His judgment (Is 1:19-20).
God is also love. And He has provided a way of redemption; faith in the atoning blood of his Son. “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” (Prov 16:6) God’s mercy prompted the great sacrifice of Jesus Messiah on the cross, and His truth made it necessary to make atonement in a way that honored the righteousness of God. But faith in Jesus is not a way to receive God’s mercy, it is the only way to escape God’s wrath. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (John 14:6)
God abhors the proud, but promises to bless the man who follows the path of righteousness and peace. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov 16:7) In what ways can we please the Lord? He wants our lives to point to Christ and not to ourselves.
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.'” (Mark 8:34-35) To “deny” ourselves means to say “No” to ourselves and “Yes” to God; the process of denial is “to humbly submit my will to God”. It’s to go through life repeating the words that Jesus said the night before He died, “not what I will, but what You will”.
What does it look like to live out this prayer? Someone hurts you. Your natural reaction is to lash back, to get angry. But the path of discipleship is “not my will but yours.” Instead of getting angry, we realize that God is calling us to forgive even our enemies. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:32) When I am hurt, I am called to submit my will to God’s will and follow His example.
There is a more subtle form of pride that’s more difficult to identify as it hides beneath a thin veneer of pretended humility. Its symptoms surface in such comments as: “I’m really no good”. “I just want to stay in the background”. “I don’t think I’ll ever accomplish much for the Lord”.
On the surface these statements appear to be expressions of humility, but upon analysis we see the dominant subject is still “I”. Genuine humility doesn’t need to announce itself. In many cases, self-deprecation is a form of inverted pride. Instead of being high on ourselves, we’re down on ourselves – but the spotlight is still on self.
God hates all forms of pride – the hidden kind as well as the showy kind. If we think we’re somebody, we must acknowledge our complete dependence on God. If we think we’re nobody, we must accept with thankfulness the gifts He has given us. Then we must serve God with humbleness of heart and give Him all the glory. “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Pet 3:8).