A Proud Look

Bible Book: Proverbs  8 : 13
Subject: Humility; Wisdom
Series: Proverbs - Sermon Notebook

“Well, I have my pride!” That statement has been used to explain why one will not ask forgiveness for something he has said or done to another. It has been used to justify one’s refusal to forgive another person. It has been used to explain decisions and actions, and sadly, it has been used by Christians. Even, when those words are not verbalized, they lie behind many of the problems we have in personal relationships. Now, let us see if the Lord is impressed with your pride.


A. We Need to Distinguish Between What We Call a Healthy Pride and Pride in the Bible.

1. There is the pride of a job well done.

There is pride, and there is pride. A popular public service spot on TV several years ago showed people performing various kinds of work. We were asked, “Would you sign your name to your work?” That is a fair question. There is a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. For several summers while I was in college and seminary, I worked for the Quitman County, MS Agricultural and Stabilization Service (ASCS). We plotted cotton fields on aerial photographs - in the vernacular, we were measuring cotton. The work was very precise; the thickness of a line could mean a lot of money to a farmer. I could finish a job and look at the map (photograph) and say to myself, “That is good work.” Now if I had bragged that my work was better than someone else’s work that would have been a sinful pride. It would have also been foolish, for I grew up on a cotton farm and some of the reporters were young kids from town who really did not understand farming.

Later, I did some part-time work for another USDA department, the Statistical Reporting Service (Crop Reporting Service). We used aerial photographs to locate fields for a survey, and that work did not have to be precise. A supervisor told me that someone in the state office told him I did the best map work of anyone they had ever had working out of that office. Was I filled with pride? No! I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of the map work I was doing because it fell so far short of the work I had done for the ASCS.

In my first two pastorates after seminary I had to learn to adjust to the fact that at the end of the day I could not always look back at what I had done that day and say, “That is a job well done.” There was always more to do than I had gotten done that day. I had to learn to evaluate my work in a different way. For one thing, we worked for four to five years with little evidence that we were making any progress. Then in the sixth year we experienced “overnight success”! I liked that a lot better, but I was fully aware of the fact that I probably worked harder during the first five years than in the next three when we were seeing visible results.

Call it pride or simple an appreciation for a job well done, but there is a lot to be said for a commitment to do a good job. After all, the Bible says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccl. 9:10). I love wood work but when began buying some of the essential tools there were people who started telling my how much money I could make by making a lot of little crafty things and selling them at fairs. Some do that and they make some really impressive things. However, when you begin to think about making money with you hobby, you hobby becomes a business, and I was interested in maintaining my hobby for my own pleasure.

When my daughter-in-law Robin asked me if I would make a toy chest for Abigail, I said, “No, but I will build her a chest she can use for the rest of her life. The first part of the joy in the project was the planning. While driving, I would build the box in my mind, and they when I got home I would make notes and draw the plans. For example, the top is made from the maple headboard of the bed her daddy slept in when he was a little boy. I made the box and then took virgin pine I had salvaged and run through my planer and then across my router to make beautiful paneling. It is extremely heavy, but the castors permit them to move it around without any trouble. I love to look at that chest and think that Abigail will enjoy it for years to come. Since then I have built a larger version from Robin and one for Mark, which he uses for a coffee table (and he is an interior designer). I am committed to one for my sister Linda.

I am sort of proud of those chests - but I would be foolish if I boasted that I could build a chest piece of furniture better than my friend, Jim Hayes. All I have to do is turn and look at the oak entertainment center he built for me, or the buffet and hutch he built for my wife (if I could only do crown molding like that...). One’ skills with any tool may be source of joy - or something that breeds sinful pride and arrogance.

2. Pride in one’s appearance is a good kind of pride.

One should pay attention to personal hygiene and grooming. The Christian, even in this day of the grungy, scroungy look, should dress in a manner that glorifies the Lord. If this attention to one’s appearance becomes an obsession, or a desire to impress others with one’s material possessions, then it becomes a sinful pride.

There are people who are convinced that wearing make-up is a sin. Believe me, I have seen some people who - well, may I just say it would be bordering on a sin if they didn’t wear make-up! If refusing to wear make-up is a conviction of the heart, who am I to condemn it, but if those who abstain judge those who wear make-up in an acceptable manner, that may become a sin.

3. Pride in one’s country is good.

God Bless America! Let’s face it, I am one of those love it or leave it people. I love the flags, bumper stickers, billboards, songs, and most other expressions of patriotism we have seen since 9-11-01. As a matter of fact, since we are involved in a war against terrorism, I cannot help but feel that those who go to Baghdad and demonstrate against America fall into the same category with Jane Fonda during the Viet Nam era. I personally believe America is the greatest country in the world. An early French historian declared that America is great because America is good, and when she ceases to be good she will cease to be great. I believe America is great, but I do not believe Americans have a greater worth before God than people of any other nationality.

Today, we are seeing an attitude in the press that is really disturbing. You would think, based on the popular press today that there is a mounting opposition to war against Iraq that would bring back the sixties era attitude that patriotism was somehow an ugly thing, and that marching, shouting, and opposing America was somehow a superior attitude. Maybe part of the problem is that we still have the Sixties mentality reporting the news. Dan Rather in Baghdad? It seems that some in the media would rather side with Saddam Hussein than President Bush. They hate him that much, and not surprisingly, much of their hatred is directed at, and fueled by his faith in Jesus Christ and the fact that he quotes Scripture - in the White House of all places! Can you imagine that? After all, taxpayers built the White House, and taxpayers maintain it. Has he never heard of the WALL OF SEPARATION? Of course he has, but he also knows where he heard it, and he knows it is not in the Constitution or in the First Amendment.

The national pride seen in the Olympic Games should be positive. It should promote a sense of loyalty and patriotism. However, when nations cheat to establish supremacy over another nation it is sinful. The super-nationalism of Adolph Hitler’s Germany, which led to the murder of fifteen million people (including six million Jews) was obviously evil. Communist nations have killed well over one hundred million people, but for some reason or another many in the media who hate Nazism are still soft on Communism. Communist nations, especially the USSR, East Germany, and Red China have used the Olympic Games and other athletic events for propaganda purposes just as surely as did the Nazis. Pride has led nations to seek every kind of advantage, including steroids and other illegal medications. Efforts to influence or even intimidate judges and other officials have been reported. When these things happen a healthy spirit of competition becomes an ugly byproduct of sinful pride.

Pride is a mental attitude sin, and one must be constantly on guard against sinful pride when he or she looks at any people who are different. There is nothing wrong with singing, I’m Proud to Be an American, but there is everything wrong with the attitude that we are somehow better than other people.

4. Pride in one’s school is good.

I love it. However, a sinful pride may go far beyond school spirit. Vandalism, violence, and profanity in the name of one’s school is sinful. I happened to love Mississippi College. In my opinion it is a great school. Without my opinion, it’s a great school! Do you realize it was the first college in America to grant a degree to a woman - and it is still a great school! However, before a football game against Milsaps, I witnessed behavior, which began with a spirit of competition, but ended up with a few people doing some things that were really ugly. A Milsaps student drove through the campus with a friend from MC and they were shouting Milsaps slogans until a group of students stopped them. They shaved their heads and painted them with black shoe polish. When they finally listened to the student body attorney’s appeal to let them go, one student ran along side the car and beat them on the back of the head and shoulders until they could get away (if I named the student preachers all over Louisiana and Mississippi would recognize it). The guilty persons sat back and let the student body attorney take the blame for the incident. School spirit can be a good thing, but crowds can become mobs and what I saw was ugly. Officials agreed and the long standing rivalry between two Christian schools was ended.

School pride can be a very positive thing, and it should be. However, when students begin shouting obscenities at each other, it is sinful. It can all lead to more serious trouble, but it is also an indication of a deeper sin problem. Pride can be an ugly thing.

Even Christians are in danger of going beyond a healthy school spirit to sinful pride in their schools. It is one thing to love one’s school, but some altogether different when we look down on those who did not attend our school.

5. Denominational loyalty is good, but may quickly become sinful.

There are people who feel superior to other people because they are Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, of Pentecostals. Some people boast of their denomination to the point of arrogance. Denominational distinctives are one thing, sinful pride something altogether different. Around 1960 (or earlier), Francis Shaeffer declared that the next great battlefield in Christianity would be the Scripture. That battle is still raging - and I don’t know a better word for it. It is raging, and along with it the potential for sin on both sides.

Where do I stand? When they come up with a stronger word that perfect, or infallible, or inerrant I am ready to embrace it. I believe the Bible is the perfect word of the perfect God. As far as I am concerned, if He could not have given us a perfect book (in the original manuscripts), why should we call Him God? And if He could have done it but would not do it, what kind of God is He? In many arenas we have won the battle for the Word of God. Now it is time for us to turn our attention more fully to the God of the Word, lest in victory we are defeated by our pride.

B. Now, Let Us Focus More on to the Kind of Pride God Condemns.

1. A “proud look” tops the list of the things God hates, Pro. 16ff.

2. A proud looks speaks of arrogance.

A look, including one’s eyes and general facial expression, may express love, admiration and appreciation. Or it can communicate arrogance, covetousness, jealousy, envy, lust, or contempt. Pride lies behind many other sins, especially the mental attitude sins. The mental attitude sins may then lead to overt acts: lying gossip, slander, immorality, or violence. There is little wonder that God hates a proud look.

It gets a lot worse when that proud look is directed toward one’s Creator. I can only imagine the attitude behind some of the anti-Christian letters some people write to the editor of our liberal Gannett newspaper. But what amazes me is that some preachers write letters in which they seek to water down Scripture and condemn those who accept it as the perfect Word of the perfect God.

3. One may have a sinful pride in his job or his work.

I have known people in various crafts who seemed to have the kind of pride in their work that led them to criticize very harshly others who did the same kind of work. Some do this because they are convinced they are better at their job than others, but others do it to cause people to question the competition.

A young man from the Mississippi Delta graduated from Mississippi State and returned home where his father turned over family farm to him. He was successful with his first two of three crops and it went to his head. He became arrogant and boastful. A business man watched him drive away one day and observed to friends, “All he needs is a good crop failure.”

Someone told me that a former neighbor had become a very successful farmer. He had expanded his operation while many others were going bankrupt. There were a number of really big farm operations in the area when this neighbor was struggling to get started. The person who told me about how successful the man had become told me he had stood on the porch of a local store operated by one of these families and listened to them laugh about the farmer’s old dilapidated tractors - “And now,” he added, “he owns their farm.”

4. One may have a sinful pride in his family.

One should love his family. A healthy attitude toward family would seek to protect family members and to represent them in the best possible light. A sinful pride boasts of his family’s possessions, connections, history, or power.

Sometimes whole families invest an incredible amount of time, energy, and money in a beautiful daughter or an athletic son. Support and encouragement are good. Creating the attitude that your son or daughter is better than someone else is sinful, whether they base it on superficial grounds or on legitimate grounds. It is always refreshing to find a really gifted, accomplished, or talented person who has a humble spirit.


A. “When Pride Comes, Then Comes Dishonor,” Pro. 11:2.
B. Godly People Should Hate Pride, Pro. 8:13.

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way.”

I have heard people, boast, “I have my pride!” Invariably, when I have heard this, it came from someone who was trying to justify and attitude toward another that fell short of the Golden Rule. One may be trying to justify an unforgiving spirit, or failure to ask for forgiveness.

When Kirk Cameron was a star of the sit-com, Growing Pains, he was one of the most popular young people in America. While still in his teens, he was at the top of his profession, receiving offers for roles in movies with no audition. He says, “Anything I wanted was given to me. That was what I expected, because that was my reality.” After he became a Christian, he was so determined to live for Christ that he distanced himself from fellow cast members and from the director and producer. He did not even invite them to his wedding to Chelsea Noble, one of his co-stars, he did not even invite fellow cast members to the wedding. They were offended. He was trying to live a separate life. They observed that the light hearted humor was gone. He withdrew himself from them. In 2000, when he joined fellow cast members in a movie reunion, he stood before the group and asked forgiveness. The star of the Left Behind movies is not too proud to make movies to glorify Jesus Christ, whether they win awards or not.

C. There Are More Reasons That We Should Hate Pride.

1. Pride leads to destruction, Pro. 16:18.

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”

2. Pride never stands alone in sin, Pro. 21:24.

“Proud," "Haughty," "Scoffer," are his names, Who acts with insolent pride.”

Pride is associated with many others sins, including lying, stealing, envy, jealousy, and covetousness.

When you look another person in the face and lie to him you are assuming that you are smarter than he. When you steal something from someone else you may well have the same opinion of yourself.

Slander, violence, and even murder may be associated with pride.

3. “A man’s pride will bring him low,” Pro. 29:23.

One may well ask, how do we know that? Have we not seen proud an arrogant people who never seemed to be brought down? The point is, God says it and it must be so. If God says it you can count on it. You see, you do not have to see the proud, arrogant person brought down for you to know he will be brought down. All you have to know is that God said so. He has spoken and He will perform it. That is what He says, “I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it” (Eze. 17:24.

Pride is often the sin that leads one to rebel against God, to refuse His salvation. Sin is sin, but we will always have people around who will try to catalog and rate sins: “Which is worse, to do this or to do that?” Well, I am going to tell you right now, the worst sin I can think of is for the creature to look his Creator in the face and say, “I don’t want you,” or “I don’t need you.” That is the peak of arrogant pride.

D. The Wisdom Books of the Bible Condemn Pride.

1. Job understood the evil nature of pride.

“Pour out the overflowings of your anger; And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him; And tread down the wicked where they stand” (Job 40:11-12).

2. The Psalmists condemned pride.

“In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised” (Ps. 10:2).

“O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful, And fully recompenses the proud doer” (Ps. 31:23).

“Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud” (Ps. 94:2).

“How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood” (Ps. 40:4).


Do you get the picture. God hates sin. As a matter of fact, He places it at the top of the things He hates because pride leads to so many other sins, including rebellion against God Himself. It is understandable why He hates a proud look, especially when that look is directed at Him. Think of the arrogance of the creature who looks his Creator in the face and says, “I don’t need you?” Think of the arrogance of one who looks at another person whom God loves with envy, jealousy, covetousness, lust, or bitterness.

Now think of one other thing. You and I are guilty - that is unless you have recently confessed it and received forgiveness. Pride is a constant temptation, and only God knows where you stand right now. I would urge you to recognize the role pride plays in almost every temptation you face. They you will want to repent and ask the Lord to deliver you from sinful pride.