Pride versus Poverty of Spirt

Definition of: “an unreasonable conceit of superiority,” or and “overweening opinion of one’s own qualities.” Oxford English Dictionary.

Synonyms: egotism, arrogance, hubris, selfishness, vanity, haughtiness, presumption, boastfulness, bigheadedness, self-satisfaction, self-centeredness.

It does not mean self-respect; it means “selfdom.”


• Consider the most deadly of the seven sins, the very essence of evil itself.
• A sin of the spirit
• Frequently we are unaware of it
• Modern views see pride as acceptable, healthy. The vice is a virtue. It’s a confusion of self esteem and pride.

Pride In Genesis

• What was the first vice? – Genesis 3:4-6 – a desire for superiority. They aspired to be like God.
• What was it called? – The Fall of Man
• How does their punishment differ from God’s character: God is immortal, human life is brief. God creates effortlessly, man must sweat. God is sovereign over all, but man is threatened by the beasts.
• What do we learn about pride? Points to an arrogance that is evil in pride.
• Why is this a contrast to Egyptian culture, to Pharaoh himself (Moses wrote the book Genesis).

Pride in Proverbs (written by Solomon, David’s son)

• 6:16-19 – Seven things detestable to him…
• Proverbs 8:13
• Proverbs 16:17-19

Pride in Job

• Job 40:1-14
• What was Job pride? Everything was taken from him, what was left?
• God strips him of his pride, and shows him humility and salvation enters Jobs life.

Other Historical and Literary Insights

• Jews, Greeks and Christians share a common view of pride (hubris or overweening arrogance rooted in human invulnerability)
• For the Greeks it Narcissus

Narcissus is remembered for having fallen in love with himself.

Narcissus, who was loved by Apollo and is counted among the most handsome young men, was, according to some, the son of the river god Cephisus and the nymph Liriope, or according to others, the son of Endymion and Selene (Moon).
When Narcissus was born the seer Tiresias was asked whether this child would live a long life and the seer replied: “If he never knows himself” [Tiresias. Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.350]
When the Nymph Echo fell in love with him and her love was not returned, she disappeared from woods and mountains, and faded away. Some affirm that not even her bones remained because they were turned into stone. In this way many other NYMPHS and youths had been mocked by Narcissus, until one of them prayed to heaven: “So may he himself love, and not gain the thing he loves” [Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.405]
When later Narcissus, who was as beautiful as Dionysus 2 or Apollo, discovered his image in a pool, he fell in love with himself, and not being able to find consolation, he died of sorrow by the same pool. It is said that Narcissus still keeps gazing on his image in the waters of the river Styx in the Underworld.
• For Jews and Christians, it’s roots are in the disorder of love. Love for God and neighbor are the first priorities. Self is last.
• Dante’s literary works:

Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) was a Catholic layman who wrote “The Divine Comedy,” which is really three epic poems in Italian: “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso,” which are about Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven/Paradise, respectively. In “Purgatorio,” Dante places each of the seven sins on a level, with the higher levels closer to Paradise and the lower ones closer to Hell. Dante considers these sins as offenses against love, and groups them accordingly:

Perverted Love: Pride, Envy, Wrath/Anger
Insufficient Love: Sloth
Excessive Love of Earthly Goods: Avarice/Greed, Gluttony, Lust

Dante seems to have had a well-formed conscience. His emphasis on love, in the sense of Christian charity, is impressive. That is not to claim some sort of sainthood, but his ideas were very much in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church at a time when the practice of the clergy often fell short of the doctrine.

• CS Lewis dedicates a whole chapter to pride in his book Mere Christianity

Poverty of Spirit:

What did Jesus mean?

• “poor” is the strongest meaning that is destitute and bankrupt.
• “bankrupt” or “Chapter 11” better describe the word today.
• Our UTTER dependence on God. What does this mean?
• Like Job, we recognized that all that we have is a gift. This is the starting point.

What are the misconceptions of “bankrupt” in spirit?

• “self as doormat” is false humility that is self driven or self absorbed
• A form of “resentment” and control direct at those in authority over us.
• Pleasure is confused with pride i.e. “proud” of my … (child, accomplishments)

Philippians 2:5-11

• What is the application of this verse?
• We recognize what been given to us and choose to serve people with what we have. This is the highest form of self esteem.

Job’s Lesson

• What was it?

Luke 18:9-14

• “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable…”
• What is the meaning of this story?

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity, “The Great Sin”

• Nature of pride is its competitiveness. I.e. rich vs. richer than…
• It has as it’s goal to be at least equal if not better than someone else.
• It wants to look down on others, not up.
• It put enmity, or strife between men and God. If you are proud, you cannot know God.
• Pride’s most terrible form is in religion itself (Job, Luke 8). It’s when religious life make us feel better then someone else.
• It smuggles it way into religious life. It is from Hell.
• Humility strips us from what makes us unhappy.

The Big Picture

• Why is pride the root of evil? Think about what pride is and what it has caused historically and in your life.
• Why is humility of spirit a more powerful force?
• Why is humility of spirit a blessing? What is a blessing?


3 thoughts on “Pride versus Poverty of Spirt

  1. Philippians 2:
    5Have this mind among yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

    Have this mind among yourselves (v1)! What does that look like? I would like to see a church really spend time fleshing out the implications of this. Of course they already did, and its recorded in the book of Acts, but in our day the narcissistic culture is blinding Christians from seeing the clear and simple things the Bible presents as being key to the Christian walk. Just a thought…. Great post! 🙂

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