A photo showing a person engrossed in self-admiration, juxtaposed with an open Bible, symbolizing the contrast between narcissism and the teachings of humility and selflessness found in the Bible.

What Does The Bible Say About Narcissism?

Narcissism has become a major issue in society today, with more people concerned about the self-centered attitudes and behaviors that often accompany it. For Christians seeking biblical wisdom on this topic, what does the Bible have to say about narcissism?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not directly address narcissism, but it contains principles and examples that warn against self-absorption, pride, arrogance and other narcissistic attitudes.

Key verses describe the importance of humility, considering others, and developing a servant heart.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine multiple passages from both the Old and New Testaments that provide insight into God’s perspective on narcissism and how to overcome its effects in our lives.

Old Testament Warnings Against Pride and Arrogance

Proverbs 21:4 – A haughty look, a proud heart

The book of Proverbs contains many warnings against pride and arrogance. Proverbs 21:4 states, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” This verse teaches that pride is not just an attitude problem, but a serious sin.

A haughty look and proud heart characterize the wicked, not the righteous. God looks at our inner motivations and is displeased by arrogance and self-exaltation.

Proverbs 16:5 further warns, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” Pride leads to destruction according to Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

God will bring down and humble those who exalt themselves.

Isaiah 14:12-15 – Lucifer’s downfall due to pride

Isaiah 14:12-15 is often seen as a reference to the prideful downfall of Lucifer. These verses state: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

Lucifer’s fatal flaw was his pride and desire to exalt his throne above God’s. His arrogance led to his downfall. This passage reminds us that seeking our own glory above God’s leads only to ruin.

Ezekiel 28:17 – Judgment on the king of Tyre for pride

Ezekiel 28 contains a prophetic lament over the proud king of Tyre who thought he was a god. Verse 17 says, “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.” The king’s pride led to corrupt thinking and evil behavior.

Verses 6-10 describe this prideful ruler: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you…They will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor.

They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas.”

This passage reminds us that God is opposed to human pride and will bring judgment on those who arrogantly set themselves up against Him.

Jesus’ Teachings on Humility and Servanthood

Matthew 23:12 – Whoever exalts himself will be humbled

In Matthew 23:12, Jesus teaches that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” This verse comes in the context of Jesus rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for their pride and hypocrisy.

Though they had positions of leadership, they used their authority for selfish gain and public recognition rather than serving others. Jesus makes it clear that true greatness comes not from lifting ourselves up, but from humbling ourselves in service to others.

God values humility, not self-promotion. This humbling of oneself could involve acts like washing someone’s feet, taking on menial tasks, or giving up prestige and rights for the good of others. Jesus Himself modeled this humility by taking on the form of a servant and giving His life for us (Philippians 2:5-8).

The path to exaltation goes downward in servanthood, not upward in self-glorification.

Mark 9:35 – Being last and servant of all

In Mark 9:35, Jesus teaches His disciples: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” This statement came after the disciples had been disputing who among them was the greatest. Jesus makes it clear that pursuing status and recognition is worldly, not Christ-like.

Instead, following Him involves taking the lowest position and serving others above oneself. This service includes menial, unnoticed acts, not just dramatic displays. As John Gill’s Exposition notes, being a servant requires “getting down on one’s knees, and on the ground, and taking upon one any work, and any service, which may be beneficial and useful to another.”

Jesus demonstrated this servant-heartedness by washing His disciples dirty feet. When we humble ourselves and serve others as Jesus did, we reflect His love to the world.

John 13:1-17 – Washing the disciples’ feet

In John 13:1-17, Jesus revolutionizes the concept of leadership by dramatically stooping to wash His disciples’ feet. Though Jesus was their Lord and Teacher, He took on the role of a lowly servant by performing this menial task usually reserved for household slaves.

Peter even initially refused to let Jesus wash his feet, saying “You shall never wash my feet” (verse 8). But Jesus replied that unless He washed Peter, Peter had no part with Him. Jesus’ shocking act displayed that true spiritual leadership is not about status or power over others, but humbly serving others even in simple, unglamorous ways.

This humility pleases God and reflects Christ’s love to the world. As Jesus said in John 13:15, He gave this example so that the disciples would also serve one another in this sacrificial manner. Washing feet represents how all believers, especially leaders, are called to lower themselves to meet others’ needs without thought of position or prestige.

Instructions for Christian Living

Philippians 2:3-4 – Consider others as more important than yourselves

The apostle Paul instructs believers in Philippi to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

This teaches that Christians should view others as more important than themselves. It is a call to humility and selflessness, considering the needs and concerns of others rather than being self-absorbed. Paul says believers should look out for the interests of others, not just their own interests.

This requires seeing people through the eyes of Christ, who models self-sacrificial love for us.

Some practical ways to apply this teaching include: putting a stop to negative comparisons and competition, honoring and celebrating others’ achievements, listening attentively, offering to pray for others, looking for ways to serve behind the scenes, being quick to forgive, and avoiding gossip or hurtful speech.

Christians who follow Paul’s instructions will build a strong community founded on love. As author C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

James 4:6 – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble

James 4:6 clearly states that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” This reminds believers that while pride leads to conflict and separation from God, humility draws us near to Him and allows us to receive His grace.

Pride is dangerous because it promotes a self-centered, independent spirit rather than reliance on God. It is thinking we are better than others, taking credit for achievements on our own, and being unwilling to submit to authority.

In contrast, humility recognizes our dependence on God for everything, acknowledges limitations, and esteems others above self. It flows from an accurate perspective of who we are before the Lord.

This verse encourages growing in humility by admitting faults, being teachable, seeking accountability, and focusing more on building others up than promoting self. James says that when we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will lift us up (James 4:10).

As we acknowledge Him, He pours out grace and blessings. Humility requires dying to pride and self-sufficiency daily. It is the pathway to an intimate relationship with God and maturity in Christ.

1 Peter 5:5-7 – Clothe yourselves in humility

The apostle Peter exhorts believers in 1 Peter 5:5-7, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

This passage emphasizes humility as essential in the Christian life.

Peter uses the metaphor of clothing ourselves with humility, picturing humility as something we actively put on each day in how we think, speak, and conduct ourselves. He reiterates that God opposes pride but pours out grace for the humble.

When we humble ourselves under God’s authority, He will lift us up and care for us. Practical ways to “clothe” ourselves in humility include apologizing quickly when wrong, seeking counsel from others, admitting limitations, focusing on serving, and bringing requests to God in prayer instead of worry.

Growing in humility requires intentionality and consistent self-evaluation before the Lord. It flows from recognizing our complete dependence on and submission to God. Clothing ourselves in humility not only honors the Lord but positions us to receive His care and grace for every situation.

Overcoming Narcissism Through Christ-like Love

Narcissism is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy. It can manifest in grandiosity, entitlement, arrogance and envious behaviors.

Narcissism stems from underlying insecurities and is often a mask for deep-seated feelings of inferiority and shame. Thankfully, God’s Word provides hope and a pathway to overcoming narcissistic tendencies through the power of Christ-like love.

The essence of Christ-like love is sacrificial service, humility, and preferring others above self. This stands in stark contrast to narcissism’s self-centeredness. Philippians 2:3-4 instructs us: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Applying this ethic of other-oriented love trains us to look beyond ourselves and see the needs around us.

Here are some practical tips for overcoming narcissism through Christ-like love:

  • Practice listening more than speaking. Narcissists love the sound of their own voice, so challenge yourself to actively listen and value others’ perspectives.
  • Cultivate empathy by imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes. Seek to understand their feelings and viewpoint.
  • Perform anonymous acts of service without expecting credit or applause.
  • Celebrate others’ achievements instead of feeling envious or threatened.
  • Confess pride to trusted friends and ask them to lovingly identify self-centered patterns.
  • Spend time caring for the needs of others – the poor, marginalized, sick or hurting.

The path of humility and service modeled by Jesus provides the ultimate antidote to narcissism’s toxins. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” May we fix our eyes on Jesus, recognizing we are but dust.

Yet through His transforming power at work within us, we can increasingly reflect God’s other-centered and self-giving love.


In conclusion, while the Bible does not directly address the modern concept of narcissism, it contains many warnings against self-centered attitudes and behaviors. Through stories and direct instructions, Scripture upholds ideals of humility, service, and placing others above oneself.

For Christians seeking to reflect Jesus Christ, who exemplified servanthood, the antidote to narcissism is found in living out Christ-like love.

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