The sin of pride is so easy to fall into and often the hardest to recognize. God hates pride. It is one of the seven deadly sins of Proverbs 6:16 and first on the list. “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him; a proud look…” While pride can crop up in our lives in many ways there are basically two sides of pride—two extreme ways it manifests in our lives. When Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 12 he had to correct these two sides of pride.
The first side of pride is easier to recognize. It is an attitude of superiority. This attitude can be expressed in many ways. It is one-upmanship; it is putting others down that you might be seen in a better light; it is being good at something and knowing you are and making sure everyone else knows you are; it is putting yourself at the center of the universe and determining that everything should be about you; it is self-aggrandizement. At Corinth it showed up in people who felt they had a superior spiritual gift causing them to communicate in some way to others, “I don’t need you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21)
The second side of pride is not so easy to recognize. It is an attitude of inferiority. This is expressed in just the opposite way that superiority is. It is putting yourself down; it is seeing yourself as less than; it is having the sense that you are unloved or unworthy; it is feeling you’re not good at anything; it is self-deprecation. At Corinth it showed up in people who felt their spiritual gift was not as important or as needed as the gifts that others had causing them to say, “I’m not needed, I don’t belong.” (1 Corinthians 12:15-16)
How can tow opposite attitudes both be a face of pride? The answer is that those who have a superiority attitude and those who have an inferiority attitude have this in common—A SELF FOCUS. Both are absorbed with themselves. One is focusing on what they have, what they can do, why they’re important and irreplaceable. The other is focusing on what they don’t have, what they can’t do, and why they’re not needed.
It is this self-focus that Jesus died to free us from. The Bible often calls this fallen nature that we were born with the flesh or the sinful nature. Romans 8:7 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Because of this hostility our flesh rebels against God and wants to live independently of Him. Talk about pride! This is not only arrogant thinking it is also utterly foolish.
Down deep inside both sides of pride also have something else in common. They both flow out of our own insecurities. Proud superiority is covering up this sense of insecurity by finding something it can boast in when compared to others. Proud inferiority covers it up by displaying it openly so no one will expect anything from them for surely they will fail to meet the expectation and exposing their ineptness. Both are part of a sinful cover-up.
The Lord Jesus comes along and calls us out of hiding. He leads us to be real and transparent and admit our deepest fears. When we do so He is free to move in and dethrone human pride and take His rightful place in our hearts. He forgives us and gives us a true sense of worth and value and He gives us assignments to do for His kingdom telling us to trust in Him and not ourselves. This is freedom. This is truly living.