“Why do I put up with you?”
“I can handle it, so back off.”
“Do you even know what you are doing?”
Prideful statements. Have you ever said anything like this? Ever thought it? In some form or another, we all struggle with pride. Whether with our words or in more subtle ways, none of us escape its grasp.
Pride is exalting yourself to a position you don’t deserve. It’s thinking too highly of yourself. It’s making yourself more valuable, more competent, more intelligent, more sassy, more fun, more whatever. You stand on a pedestal looking down your nose at everyone else.
If you know God, there is no room for pride. A relationship with our sovereign and good God, and a trust in His Son, puts our pride in check (James 4:5–6). Rather than seeing ourselves as big and seeing everyone else (including God) as small, we have our perception rearranged so that everything takes on its proper size. God becomes big in our lives, and we become minuscule. Our pride withers as we stand before the awesome majesty of a holy and merciful God. We are no longer the center of our universe—Christ is, and we bow down to Him.
Solomon writes, “The proud speech of a fool brings a rod of discipline, but the lips of the wise will protect them” (Prov. 14:3, CSB). The fool experiences consequences for his proud speech. His proud words “bring a rod of discipline.” The fool’s pride brings chastisement and harm down on his life.
You get angry at your coworker, and he gets angry in return.
You belittle your spouse and, not surprisingly, she fires right back at you.
Like a boomerang, pride shoots into the air, curves around, and then hits you squarely in the head when you are not looking.
The wise guard their lips. They are careful with their speech. Rather than angrily or impulsively letting things roll off their tongues, the wise don’t respond in kind. Belittling is met with a gentle response (Prov. 15:1). The wise put a Christ-centered filter on their lips (13:3). They preserve their lives rather than harming them. In Christ, through the empowering grace of the gospel, we can be wise with our words. We can show humility, guard our tongues, and respond graciously.
Imagine a friend, with a tense voice, blurts out to you: “I’m better at this; let me do it!” You angrily respond, “Since when have you been better?” That’s a prideful response from an offended heart that feels demeaned. Or, you could say, through the strength of the Spirit, “God has gifted you, but let’s work through this together to find out who is best suited to get this done.” This second response is possible for those who repent and believe in Him.
Don’t let pride poison your words. Be like Christ, who was loving, humble, and wise with His words.
Dr. Deepak Reju is pastor of biblical counseling and family ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is author of several books, including On Guard and She’s Got the Wrong Guy.