Why is arrogance so condemned by God? (Part 1)


Why is arrogance so condemned by God?   After all, some may think that it is merely an extension to self-confidence and we all need to be self-confident, don’t we?

On the website powerofpositivity, we read the following:

“A rather fine line exists between arrogance and self-confidence, separated only by empathy. An arrogant person feels they must assert their ego always to feel superior, while a self-confident person knows their worth without having to prove it. Arrogance points to low self-esteem because you feel threatened by other people and believe you must defend yourself. Confident people don’t have anything to show because they know their value.”  

They then quote Stewart Strafford as follows: “Confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities, arrogance is when you think you are better than others and act accordingly. You could say that arrogance is false confidence and that the person displaying it is overcompensating for their inner inadequacies.” 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines arrogance as “having a feeling of superiority that shows itself in an overbearing attitude.”  

Many people look to self-help books, and to writers who have little or no knowledge about the Bible, and seek ways about how best to live and to improve their lives.  The Bible is not a book that most people will immediately refer to in such cases and will, therefore, miss out on the Godly wisdom that it has to offer.

Many people in the Western world today are aware of the story about Sodom and Gomorrah which is related in Genesis 19, and this rightly refers to the sin of homosexuality, naysayers notwithstanding, and we have covered this a number of times in our writings.   However, these inhabitants were guilty of other sins, as we read in Ezekiel 16:49: “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

In Proverbs 8:13, we read: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.”  Pride and arrogance are complementary to each other and are traits that God hates. As a brief side issue, pride is the word used in connection with wrong sexual practices: Wikipedia points out: “LGBT pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements.”

We are addressing in these two Q&As the wrong kind of pride—that of arrogant pride. We understand that there is also a right kind of pride (compare our Q&As on “Is Pride Always Condemned in the Bible?,” Parts 1 and 2). https://www.eternalgod.org/is-pride-always-condemned-in-the-bible-part-1/ and https://www.eternalgod.org/is-pride-always-condemned-in-the-bible-part-2/ )

In Proverbs 16:5, we read in the Amplified Bible: “Every one proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured – I pledge it — he will not go unpunished.”

Many websites state that the words arrogance, arrogant, proud, and haughty are mentioned over 200 times in the New International Version, and such statements emanating from God are not given approval.

Just a few examples in the Word of God will show what God thinks of an arrogant attitude.

We read in 1 Samuel 2:3 the prayer of Hannah after the birth and weaning of Samuel. Hannah exclaimed, by addressing the people: “Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.”  Arrogancy, that is “claiming more than one’s due,” “assumption,” and “pride” are definitely not approved.

We know that King Nebuchadnezzar had a particular problem with arrogance and pride.   We read in Daniel 4:30: “The king spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’” Immediately, he heard the following: “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!’” (verse 31).    Punishment was immediate, and we read his fate in verses 32-33.   However, after his punishment, he praised the Most High God (verses 34-37).  Arrogance is the total opposite of godliness as it promotes self above all others, even against God.    How apropos is the instruction in Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” “Haughty” is commonly defined as “arrogantly, superior and disdainful.”

In Isaiah 13:11, there is further information about arrogance and haughtiness: “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” The Pulpit Commentary observes: “I will punish the world for their evil. Here the prophecy certainly goes beyond the destruction of Babylon, and becomes a general warning to the wicked of all countries. Each country is to feel that its turn will come. Punishment will fall especially on the unjust, the proud, and the haughty (comp. Isaiah 1:28; Isaiah 2:11-17, etc.).”

Jeremiah 48:29 reveals pride that is ungodly: “We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), Of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, And of the haughtiness of his heart.”   Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states: “…(he is exceedingly proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart; a heap of words to express the same thing, suggesting that the instances of his pride were many, and that it was exceeding great indeed: these many words were little enough; and indeed words were wanting fully to declare it” (our emphasis).

We further read in Proverbs 21:24: “A proud and haughty man—’Scoffer’ is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.”   Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary observes: “Pride and haughtiness make men passionate; such continually deal in wrath, as if it were their trade to be angry.”  

Self-promotion, which is bragging or otherwise attempting to make oneself appear greater, carries with it an attitude of superiority and arrogance. Proverbs 27:2 has the precise answer to such behaviour: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.”  Further confirmation of this principle is found in 2 Corinthians 10:17-18: “But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”   Glorying in the Lord removes any arrogance or superiority and ensures that credit is given to the right source!

In the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14, we read that the right Godly attitude is rewarded rather than the arrogant, self-serving one: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

We read in Romans 12:3 that further instruction is given by the apostle Paul: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”   Thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think is arrogance.

In the book of James, we read about forward planning but there is no mention of God being involved: “But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16).   Planning is a good thing to do and God’s involvement removes arrogant or self-serving attitudes: “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

(To be continued)

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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