If you’ve ever wondered where strife comes from, Prov. 13:10 states that “where there is strife, there is pride.” Strife therefore comes from being prideful. All foolishness and foolery come from pride as well, as per Proverbs 14:3 “a fool lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protects them.”
When we are prideful, we feel we know everything, that we don’t need to seek counsel, that our way is the only right way and we can handle it all by ourselves. It’s called -having a made-up-mind. Here’s what God’s word has to say about that all-knowing, self-reliant, self-sufficient attitude: “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). Can you imagine that? No room for God in his thoughts, no consideration given to God’s will in his decision-making…
Proverbs 19:20 clearly urges us to “listen well to counsel and be willing to learn from correction so that by the end of your life you’ll be known for your wisdom.” This correction, in case you’re wondering, comes from God’s word, the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 decisively lets us know that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Herein, we find correction for those times we think we’re doing right apart from God. We are assured that if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).
If we tend to elevate ourselves over others -another act born of pride- my Father will rather we, in humility, value others above ourselves (Phil 2:3). Luke 14:10 urges that when we are invited to a wedding, we should take the lowest place so that when your host comes he will ask you to move up to a better seat and we will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. Verse 11 concludes the matter thus: “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility goes beyond a feeling when we are given an opportunity to act it out; therein lies our promotion as we grow in grace and the Father is glorified.
1 Peter 5:5 tells us that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Why is God opposed to pride? We’ve seen above that it’s because it causes strife. But also because it comes before a fall, and He doesn’t want us to fall. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” And “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). The antidote He prescribes involves us abasing ourselves and esteeming others as above us. “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Phil. 2:3.
Proverbs 31:18, makes it clear that “to fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech”, while Proverbs 9:10 clearly instructs us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Over and over again we see God’s word juxtaposing pride and wisdom, with Pride leading to a fall and wisdom leading to the abundant life (Proverbs 19). Hence the instruction in James 4:10 to humble ourselves so God might exalt us in due time.
Pride leads to strife; the antidote is humility, which leads to wisdom as we learn to humble ourselves and fear the Lord. If we find ourselves struggling with the spirit of pride, fasting is the most effective way of breaking that yoke. The Psalmist says in Psalm 69:10: I humble myself by fasting. We see that “Ezra proclaimed a fast among all his troop in order to humble themselves before God and to seek his help” (8:21).
We are promised that “the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” in Proverbs 22:4. Let us “humble ourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:5–6), always remembering that pride will inevitably lead to our downfall, but God gives grace to the humble. Then, like the Psalmist in 25:9, we too can say “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”