The truth in Proverbs 13:10 (KJV) “Only by pride cometh contention,” manifests itself in different types of prideful attitudes. Some people may think it is good to have “pride in oneself” because it exudes determination and a comfort in who one is. However, I believe that they are talking more about healthy confidence, which is very different than pride. Pride should be more equated with arrogance, which is always bad, no matter how one puts it.
So how do we combat pride? The four main ways that are most effective in combating arrogant pride is through love, through understanding, through humility, and through sacrifice, or the giving of oneself.
When we truly love someone, we don’t have to put up a façade in front of them, or make sure we look “good” so we don’t get rejected. Love goes “all in” and risks even rejection and humiliation, as with Jesus and Mother Teresa, because they consider the rewards greater than the cost. Love combats pride because it extinguishes its motivation, which often has its roots in hatred, bitterness, and/or envy. When you love someone, one doesn’t care as much about one’s own status or reputation, as much as the other person’s.
Another way we can combat pride is through understanding. When we truly aim to learn about other people, through their stories, their cultural heritage, their motivations, their goals in life, their hurts and pains, and their triumphs, we often find some way we can relate with what they are going through or went through and who they are. This is how most people become good friends with each other! In prejudicial pride, this is absent, because the prejudiced person often just makes general assumptions about a person or a particular group of people, without really educating themselves of the truth or really reflecting upon how their assumptions came to be. In “better-than-you” pride, the arrogant person, like the one who is prejudiced, often makes a lot of assumptions about a person or a group of people without going in-depth and learning about why someone is the way they are. When we aim for understanding and really learn about another person or persons, the reason behind the prideful attitude gets “debunked,” so to speak, because we often find out that some or even all our assumptions were wrong! Thus, our pride melts away into a new acceptance and openness towards the people we previously looked down upon.
Another way we can defeat pride is through its counterpart—humility. For instance, when someone points out an area of our lives or of our character that needs improvement or change, instead getting upset by this, we can humbly accept their admonishment and take steps to change. On a related issue, when someone is offended by something we did or said, instead of excusing or denying our fault, we should apologize and ask or find ways to improve ourselves. Some people, especially those in authority, may think it is a sign of weakness to apologize to another, especially someone that they consider a subordinate, but nothing could be further from the truth. In our natural states, we would never apologize for anything, even though we know we make mistakes and sin! This is a scary thought. I believe it often takes supernatural powers to sincerely apologize to someone because it chips at our natural propensity of pride. However, when we do offer a sincere apology and a strong desire to change, our lives will make a powerful and redeeming statement.
Another powerful way we can combat pride is through sacrifice. When we are willing to sacrifice for others, it means we are willing to prefer others above ourselves, which is also a characteristic of humility. This is a particularly powerful antidote to materialistic pride because when we sacrifice, we must be willing to part with anything that holds us back from giving or sharing with others. For instance, if I struggle with love of money, by giving a portion of my earnings to charity, it helps me to see that a.) other people need what I have, so it’s selfish of me to hold on to something that someone else needs more. b) that even if I am not as rich, that I still can be happy because I did the right thing. Sacrifice is also an antidote to the other forms of pride because it forces one to look away from self and unto others. Pride and selfishness go hand in hand. Since living sacrificially for others combats selfish attitudes and behaviors, both pride and selfishness get extinguished. An example of how this occurred in my life, is when I was a child, I was very selfish. I did not even want to buy something for my brother’s birthday. However, my aunt convinced me that to sacrifice part of what I had for my brother was the right thing to do and would show that I truly loved him. That changed my whole outlook on giving and sacrifice. When we are willing to sacrifice for others, we show we truly love them.
When we practice love, understanding, humility, and sacrifice, most of our prideful attitudes will melt away. We will be more effective in loving and serving others, without ourselves getting in the way of that. Pride is a dangerous hindrance to our true success in life, and causes contention. However, humility—its counterpart, often causes love and peace.