A humble photograph capturing a solitary figure kneeling in prayer, hands clasped in reverence, with a faint glow illuminating their face, symbolizing Jesus' teachings on humility and the dangers of pride.

What Does Jesus Say About Pride?

Pride is an issue that impacts all human beings, even those seeking to faithfully follow Jesus. If left unchecked, pride can grow into an all-consuming sin that leads us away from God’s best. Thankfully, Jesus has much to say about the dangers of pride and how to combat it.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Jesus strongly warns his followers against pride and teaches that true greatness comes from humility and service, not self-exaltation. He calls the proud ‘blind’ and makes it clear God opposes them.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine numerous statements Jesus makes about pride recorded throughout the Gospels. We’ll look at his teachings, illustrations, and rebukes centered on pride and humility.

Whether you struggle personally with pride or seek to better understand God’s perspective on it, this thorough exploration of Jesus’ words will provide much needed wisdom.

The Pervasiveness of Pride

We All Struggle With Pride

Pride is an issue that affects all human beings. As the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even the most humble among us struggles with pride and self-centeredness at times.

Pride takes many subtle forms, like wanting to be recognized for our accomplishments, refusing to admit when we’re wrong, or looking down on others. A wise person once said, “Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the one who has it.” How true that is!

According to a 2019 Barna study, 87% of Christians admit they struggle with pride. This shows pride is not limited to nonbelievers, but something Christians routinely battle as well. Since pride is rooted in our fallen nature, even mature believers must remain vigilant against its schemes.

Left Unchecked, Pride Grows

Pride may start small, but left unchecked, it expands and leads to bigger issues. Pride prevents us from having an accurate view of ourselves. We begin thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3). Pride leads us to focus on our own interests rather than humbly serving others.

Over time, pride can make us resistant to God’s authority and unwilling to submit to others. A prideful person tends to be unteachable.

Proverbs 16:18 issues a sobering warning: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” If we do not address pride, it will eventual lead to our downfall, damaging relationships and our walk with God. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day allowed pride to swell out of control.

Though respected religious leaders, their pride caused them to reject Jesus and seek to undermine His ministry.

Pride Leads to Resistance of God

At its core, pride is the sin of self-sufficiency – feeling we do not need God or others. A proud person believes they already have it all together. Pride says we can handle life ourselves and do not need to answer to a higher power.

Tragically, pride cuts us off from relationships that could help us grow.

Resisting God is extremely dangerous, because it can lead to all kinds of further sin and rebellion. James 4:6 reminds us, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” If we choose pride, we cannot experience God’s grace and blessing.

Thankfully, James 4:10 shows the way out: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” As we acknowledge our dependence on God, repenting of pride, He promises to exalt us in due time.

Jesus Warns Against Seeking Honor

Do Not Seek Places of Honor

Jesus cautioned his followers not to seek places of honor for themselves when invited to events, but instead assume the lowest position until the host invites them to move up (Luke 14:7-11). This teaches humility and reflects Jesus’ example of taking on the role of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8).

Rather than jockeying for position and recognition, believers should defer to others just as Jesus did.

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees

Jesus warned his disciples to “beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). The Pharisees were known for doing good deeds in order to get praise and honors from people rather than to please God (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16).

They focused on outward appearances while inwardly harboring pride and self-righteousness. Jesus cautioned against this sort of hypocrisy that is more concerned with reputation and legacy than humble service to God.

Rebuke of Guests Seeking Places of Honor

Jesus noticed guests picking the best seats for themselves at a wedding banquet and told them a parable, concluding: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:7-11).

Even in social settings, Jesus emphasized that his followers should avoid seeking honor and importance for themselves. This helps foster community, equality, and service among believers rather than disunity and selfish ambition.

Humility and Service Define Greatness

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

In John 13, Jesus demonstrates humility and servitude by washing His disciples’ feet, a task usually performed by servants. Though He was their Teacher and Lord, He stooped down to serve them. Jesus told the disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

His humble act showed that true greatness comes through serving others.

The First Will Be Last

On multiple occasions, Jesus taught that God’s kingdom operates differently than worldly concepts of greatness. He said “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30). Status, riches, and pride count for nothing with God.

He looks at the heart, and those with humble, repentant hearts will be exalted.

Greatness Comes Through Serving

After James and John asked to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in glory, the other disciples were indignant. But Jesus responded, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Jesus demonstrated that pursuing self-promotion is worldly, but humble service brings true honor and greatness in God’s kingdom.

God Opposes the Proud

The Proud Are Blinded and Blind

As stated in 1 Peter 5:5, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Those with pride and arrogance often become so self-absorbed that they cannot see their own flaws or faults. Their haughtiness blinds them to the truth about themselves and the world around them.

Proverbs 16:18 warns that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” When we think too highly of ourselves, we stop relying on God and make mistakes that can lead to catastrophic consequences.

History shows many examples of leaders whose hubris led to damaging outcomes for their nations.

Everyone Exalted Will Be Humbled

Jesus Christ preached in the Gospel of Matthew that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). This echoes the common Biblical theme that the proud who promote themselves as superior will one day face rejection and demotion, while the humble will ultimately receive honor and promotion from God.

God judges our inner motives and attitudes. Even if prideful people achieve worldly status and fame, their arrogance does not go unnoticed by the Lord. In due time, He will bring down the haughty and lift up those who showed modesty and deference towards others.

Woes to Hypocrites and Lawyers

Jesus pronounced harsh warnings on religious elites who exhibited pride. In Matthew 23, He declared “woes” upon scribes and Pharisees who acted hypocritically by preaching righteousness but secretly harboring greed, self-indulgence and lack of compassion.

Modern cultural examples of such pride include celebrity preachers who pressure followers to donate money to fund their extravagant lifestyles. Jesus condemns religious leaders who flaunt their status and burden people while ignoring urgent needs right around them.

These hypocrites have already received their full reward through fame and fortune (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16).

Likewise, Jesus reproached lawyers (experts in Mosaic law) for loading people down with strict rules while not lifting a finger themselves to ease the burden (Luke 11:46). Researchers today compare such personalities to the hubris syndrome, defined as an acquired personality disorder characterized by recklessness, impulsivity and contempt towards others.

This matches Biblical descriptions of the proud quite well.

Cultivating Humility Before God

Humility Begins With Admitting Weakness

Humility starts when we recognize and admit our limitations and weaknesses. As human beings, we are finite creatures with many flaws and deficiencies. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

An important first step in cultivating humility is acknowledging that we all make mistakes and that we depend on God’s grace and mercy.

True humility involves an honest self-appraisal, seeing ourselves as God sees us. King David was described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), yet he readily admitted his sinfulness and weaknesses (Psalm 51:3-5).

Like David, acknowledging our failures and sins before God lays a foundation for humility.

Pride and Humility Cannot Coexist

The Bible often contrasts pride and humility. “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Pride is an overinflated view of ourselves, a distorted sense of self-importance. In contrast, humility is an accurate self-assessment, recognizing that everything we have comes from God.

The two attitudes cannot coexist. As author C.S. Lewis put it, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Pride pushes God from the center of our lives and puts ourselves there instead. But when we make ourselves less, we make room for God to be more.

Dependence on God Uproots Pride

The antidote to pride is developing a deep dependence on God. King Solomon advised, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). As we rely on God’s wisdom, strength, and guidance, we begin to see how helpless we are without Him.

Regularly praying and reading God’s Word helps us grow in humility. As we are reminded of God’s awesome majesty and glory, our tendency toward pride and self-exaltation fades. Humility flowers when we fix our eyes on Jesus, aware that “apart from Him we can do nothing” (John 15:5).


As we have seen, Jesus has stern warnings about the dangers of pride in a person’s life. If gone unchecked, pride can escalate into self-glorification that causes one to resist and rebel against God. Jesus makes it clear he opposes pride and that it ultimately leads to disgrace.

True greatness and honor are found in humility, servanthood and preferring others above self. As we recognize our own spiritual poverty, depend fully on God rather than self, and focus on meeting the needs of others, we display true Christ-centered humility.

Examining what Jesus says about pride helps us check our hearts and walk the narrow road he calls us to. We must hold his words in tension – remaining humble, gentle, and loving while standing for truth and living as light.

May his teachings better equip us to recognize and turn from pride while learning meekness and dependence on God.

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