Pride and humility in connection with religion

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Many people are familiar with this scripture:

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (AKJV)

At the same time, many people are proud of their “faith”, such as their membership in some particular church and its “pure doctrines”, or something similar. Sometimes, they look down on others and even express a low opinion of them. How is it – is pride reconcilable with righteousness? Let us consider this matter. First, here is another pride-related scripture:

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is seen in hating evil: pride, a high opinion of oneself, the evil way, and the false tongue, are unpleasing to me. (BBE)

Those are clear words. And still, as things are, pride is one of the elements in religion. Where does that come from? That is: Who has put such thoughts and feelings in people’s minds, and why?

Of course, much of this has to do with the competition there is between different churches. It began already when the Catholic Church split in two (east and west, Constantinople and Rome). Later, when commercial religion came on the scene, money became an even more important factor in that competition. That is: Churches and preachers want people to remain as their members or followers – financiers. They use different tactics for this. Often, they cause people to feel that they belong to “the true church” [a] with the “right doctrines”. [b] Others are then looked down on and even spoken evil of.

The opposite of being proud is being meek and humble. Let us consider the “sermon on the mount”. It mentions even the matter of meekness.

Matthew 5

3 ‘Happy the poor in spirit—because theirs is the reign of the heavens.
4 ‘Happy the mourning—because they shall be comforted.
5 ‘Happy the meek—because they shall inherit the land.
6 ‘Happy those hungering and thirsting for righteousness—because they shall be filled.
7 ‘Happy the kind—because they shall find kindness.
8 ‘Happy the clean in heart—because they shall see God.
9 ‘Happy the peacemakers—because they shall be called Sons of God.

(YLT)

Regarding verse 3: It is not fully clear what the words “poor in spirit” mean and refer to, but, it is clear that before God, we all are sinners. No church membership or “doctrines” or “holiness” can save us. We all are in need of forgiveness and mercy. So, let us be meek and humble (verse 5).

Verse 7 contains the words “happy the kind”; some translations have it as “blessed are the merciful”. Consider this: Those who are proud of themselves and look down on others, are not very kind and are actually judging others. The Scriptures say, “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”. That does not include looking down on others.

Verse 8, “happy the clean in heart” – that does not include hosting pride or evil thoughts of others.

Verse 9, “happy the peacemakers” – let us keep in mind that pride leads to division and strife. [c]

Chapter 7 records these words of Jesus:

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. (AKJV)

Again, looking down on others, especially in the religious context, is actually the same as judging them. Here, it is important to keep in mind that before God, we all are sinners and in need of forgiveness and mercy.

Let us read something the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Galatia. For, there is something to learn in that passage, even for us. Among other things, it mentions meekness, kindness and love.

Galatians 5:22 And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (YLT)

Even Colossians 3:12 with its context talks about kindness, humbleness of mind and meekness.

In short: A true believer cannot go around feeling great about oneself and looking down on others. Such manners are in conflict with several things in the Scriptures.

a The articles naa010.htm and nga060.htm have some notes on the matter of churches, including the originally Catholic dogma regarding “the true church”.

b The article nsa080.htm takes a closer look at the word and concept “doctrine”.

c It is true that the saints were told to keep away from certain kinds of people and deny fellowship to them. But, that was quite different from what we see today when churches and preachers “excommunicate” people. The article naa100.htm has more on that matter.

See also the “recommended reading” section, below.

Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm

Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters

An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm

Matthew 16:18, “I will build my assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”. What and where was the ekklêsia or assembly which Jesus said he would form? Was it an earthly religious organisation as some claim, or something else? → naa010.htm

The origin and meaning of the word “church”. → nga060.htm

What does the word “doctrine” really mean? Likewise, what is the meaning of the terms “dogma”, “creed” and “tenet”? → nsa080.htm

What the Bible says about marking, avoiding and excommunication. → naa100.htm

What does the word “righteous” really mean? What does the Bible say about righteousness? → nga080.htm

Gentiles, pagans and heathen – what do those words really mean? → nga010.htm

What does the word “saint” mean and refer to, in the Bible? → nga030.htm

Who are the 144000 and the great multitude of Revelation 7? And, who are the first-fruits or virgins of Revelation 14:1–4? → nta030.htm

What does the Bible say about calling, election and sanctification? → nba020.htm

“Church eras” – do they exist? Are there seven “eras of the church”, as some say – “Sardis era”, “Philadelphian era”, “Laodicean era” and so on? → naa030.htm

What does the word “faith” mean? What is true faith? → nba091.htm

Religion must not be skin-deep only. Believers must take the matters of faith seriously. → nba110.htm


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