James 4:1-10

What is pride? Why is it sometimes called the source of all sin?
How should we live in order to avoid pride?


    Pride is the exaltation of one's self. Pride means that we think that we are better than anyone else. One important aspect of pride is not making room for God in our life. As Psalm 10:4 puts it, "The wicked people are too proud. They do not look for God; there is no room for God in their thoughts."

    Some people do this by saying there is no God, while others admit that there might be a God, but he does not have any right to run their lives. Both deny that God is the Creator and people are his creatures. He has made us, after all, "from scratch," and therefore we belong to him. That is the message of Genesis 1 and 2. God created people, and to deny this is the very source of all sin. Pride is the refusal to obey, depend on, or worship God. Instead, we depend on and worship ourselves, other people, or "the world."

    As we look at James 4:1-10, an important passage concerning pride, we can see that it can be organized into three separate parts. This text teaches us first  about the sinfulness of not depending on God alone. Second, it informs us of the sinfulness of not loving God alone; and lastly it tells us of the grace of God that removes our sin. It is in verse 10 that James identifies that sin as pride.

    In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of doubting God's care for them, and they thought that they could get along better by being independent of God's direction (Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-6). They rejected God's right, as their Creator, to direct them. They said, in effect, "I will not submit! I will not be ruled by you!" Because of their pride they did not want to admit that God was worthy of praise. They set themselves up as gods in their own eyes, and sought security in themselves. And so they fell: "Pride will destroy a person; a proud attitude leads to ruin" (Proverbs 16:18), as Satan had fallen before them.

    The Bible makes frequent reference to the ideal relationship between God and humanity: "I will be your God  and you will be my people" (Jeremiah 23:7 24:7; 31:33; Ezekiel 11:20; 36:28; 37:23, 27; Hebrews 8:10). We have chosen the way of pride, but God constantly calls us back to the way of humility (Matthew 5:5).

    It is bad to look for salvation in one's own strength, but it is equally bad to seek it in some other human leader or institution (Jeremiah 17:5-8). Daniel 5:20 points out that when King Nebuchadnezzar became too proud God deposed him. Verse 3 in Obadiah mentions the nation of Edom, who thought themselves secure because of their fortresses in the rocky cliff and canyons. But they didn't reckon with the fact that they had become enemies of the Lord All-Powerful, who would surely defeat them. Even the nation of Israel, God's chosen people, would be defeated because they had pride in themselves, instead of trusting in God (Hosea 7:10). Jeremiah 13:9 is lie Ezekiel 24:21, where the people took pride in, and trusted in, the city of Jerusalem where the Temple is. But our salvation does not come from political leaders and nations, or even religious leaders and buildings. It comes only from God.

    Since it is our pride that keeps us from seeking God, it is a gracious thing for God to undermine the basis of our pride. He wants us to come to repentance, and to save our eternal souls. Thus, Job 33: 16-17 says, "He speaks in their ears and frightens them with warnings to turn them away from doing wrong and to keep them from being proud" (see also Proverbs 16:18; 29:23). God is also jealous of anybody or anything that is praised instead of him. He protects the unique sacredness of his reputation. Isaiah 2:11 says, "Proud people will be made humble, and they will bow low with shame. At that time only the Lord will still be praised" (see Zephaniah 3:11-13). The sin of pride is that a person directs love and praise to himself or others, instead of to God. Amos 8:7 says that one of the names of God is "the Pride of Jacob." This means that people should take pride in God, and in God alone. If people are going to boast about anything, it should be about God and what he has done (Jeremiah 9:23-24; Romans 15:17-19; 2 Corinthians 1:12-14; 5:12).

To avoid pride in our lives we must recognize who we are and who God is. God is our Creator and Sustainer, and as such is worthy of our praise and worship. We are his creatures, and totally dependent upon him, whether or not we acknowledge it. We must  not be proud of the country we live in apart from what God is doing in it. We must not depend on our church or its leaders. We must ultimately acknowledge our total reliance on God's grace. If we do not acknowledge it, we are proud, and we set ourselves up as rivals-enemies-of God  ("God is against the proud"). But God is also the loving Father who delights to provide for his children who call upon him in humility ("he gives grace to the humble").


"Page copied from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright 1987, 1988, 1991 by word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75234. Used by Permission