“Pride of life”: What is it and how can we overcome it biblically? (1 John 2:16)

Pride is a sin that we all struggle with at some point or another. But what exactly is “the pride of life”? The phrase shows up just once in the Bible in 1 John 2:16.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

(1 John 2:16)

In this post, we will first describe what the pride of life is. We will then share 6 pragmatic tips on how we can all seek to overcome it.

What is the pride of life? (1 John 2:16)

In short, the pride of life is rooted in a person’s choice to chase the things of the world over leaning into and following God.

Pride of life how to overcome pride biblically

This worldly pursuit can take on different forms to varying degrees. For example, the pride of life can relate to a person’s self-centered opinion of his or her own life, identity, merit, achievements, power, possessions, and so on.

The pride of life is a sin. It is fuelled by worldly wisdom that tempts us to focus on ourselves over focusing on God and other people.

Sometimes, a person’s pride of life may be obvious to others. For example, he or she could come across as clearly arrogant, boastful, and condescending.

However, far more often, our pride of life is more subtle, pervasive, and insidious than we realize.

For example, we might have a secret habit of comparing ourselves with others because we want to be ‘better’ than them in some way. Or, we may seem humble on the outside, but inside we are tempted to seek things like praise, honor, worldly success, and so on.

Pride of life how to overcome pride biblically 2

Whether outwardly or inwardly expressed, the pride of life goes against what Jesus Christ taught us about staying humble (Luke 18:14) and having a servant’s heart (Philippians 2:5-11).

Here is an insightful sermon that further details what the pride of life is.

What does the Bible say about the pride of life?

We won’t sugar-coat it: indulging in the pride of life effectively turns us away from God.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

(1 John 2:15)

This is a challenging thing for us as Christians to hear, especially when we consider how often the world urges us to pursue self-glory, personal desires, and other earthly things.

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Yet, as the Bible clearly tells us, God does not favor any pride centered on ourselves or our self-concerned goals. To actively practice the pride of life is to disobey God.

“The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”

(Proverbs 11:2)

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

(Proverbs 16:18)

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

(Proverbs 8:13)

In short, our pride of life distracts us with worldly desires and blinds us from leading lives that truly honor what our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to be.

God blesses the humble

In contrast to pride, God blesses and honors those who stay humble and are willing to give Him proper reverence.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

(James 4:6)

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour.”

(Proverbs 29:23)
Staying humble

Following Christ also means staying humble towards others as we hope to think of them more than ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

(Philippians 2:3-4)

But to be clear, humility does not mean disparaging our joyful self-identity and who we truly are – beloved children of God. Rather, it entails thinking of our own interests less as we shift focus towards loving God and others more.

This form of humility is key to overcoming pride.

6 tips on how to overcome pride biblically

Let’s be honest: we all have our moments of pride that can range from subtle to overt. As human beings, we are flawed, and the pride of life can be alluring.

This begs the question: how can we overcome pride biblically? How can we seek to reject worldly pursuits as we keep humble before the Lord and others?

Here are 6 tips that can help!

1) Acknowledge our moments of pride

First, we should be willing to recognize whenever we slip into pride, letting the Holy Spirit convict us of our sin (John 16:8).

Christian believers reflection

One way to do this is to pray often and ask God to help us bring to mind any blindspots in our lives where we may be putting worldly, self-centered things ahead of following Jesus.

We can also learn to think about how we act towards other people. Are we keeping humble, outwardly and inwardly? Do we ever behave like we’re better than others? It is good to spend time reflecting on these things to help us slowly be more aware of our prideful moments.

Praying regularly

In short, to overcome our pride, we must start by being honest with ourselves and God. If we refuse to see our own pride, it is ironically because of our conceit.

Why did Jesus call himself the “bread of life” (John 6:35)?

2) Humbly pray to God for help in overcoming our pride of life

Acknowledging our pride is a good first step. However, we must also learn to humbly repent and continually ask God for strength to resist repeating our old habits.

Jesus gives us timeless guidance from heaven when it comes to fighting temptation.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

(Matthew 26:41)
Fellowship is important 1

The pride of life is a sin that will persistently tempt us.

However, we are blessed to have a gracious and merciful God who invites us to pray and approach Him with our struggles, so that He may help us overcome them according to His will (Philippians 4:6).

This includes lending us strength to turn away from our pride of life, a little at a time.

But much of this hinges on our own willingness to approach God, instead of trying to fight on our own. This act of surrender is in itself a practice of humility – a good start to overcoming pride.

Pride of life how to overcome pride biblically 4

In short, it is important to make time to confess our moments of pride to God through prayer. This will keep us humble as we seek His spiritual aid in letting go of our prideful habits.

What did Jesus mean when he called us the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)?

3) Read Scripture regularly; stay in God’s Word

If we want to overcome the sin of pride, we need to put God at the center of our lives and make His Word a regular part of our daily routine.

The Bible is “a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105) that will keep us journeying in His will.

what is the pride of life and how to overcome it 2

Above all, “the word of God is alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Our heavenly Father speaks to us through its pages as He teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in His righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

As we habitually turn to Scripture, we also get more and more familiar with what Jesus calls us to do. This includes, among other things, learning to walk in humility in the face of prideful temptation.

what is the pride of life and how to overcome it

In short, it is thus wise for us to keep reading our Bibles – a foundation of our faith – so that we can constantly remind ourselves of why and how we should overcome our pride of life. God’s Word gives us purpose greater than our own fleshly desires.

Here are some Bible verses to strengthen your hope in Christ.

4) Talk to a trusted believer or fellowship group

Pride is a sneaky sin. It often tells us that we don’t need anyone else, that we can overcome it all on our own.

This is self-defeating. Because the truth is, we all need help sometimes. There is nothing wrong with hoping for someone else to encourage us.

Fellowship is important 1

In this regard, talking to a loved one or a close fellowship group about our struggles with pride can be incredibly energizing.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ can offer kind support and biblical encouragement, and they can also gently keep us accountable if we start to slip into pride. Plus, it really helps to know that we’re not alone in this fight.

Significant passages affirm the usefulness of such healthy fellowship.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(Hebrews 10:25)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Fellowship is important 1

In short, we can find fellow believers who we can honestly talk to about our desires to overcome pride. Meeting up with people who remind us to stay motivated and keep us grounded is a good way to go.

But remember, let us not fall into the pride of treating our fellowships as a one-way street. Always make the time to reciprocate in gentle kindness. Our listening ears can also help to edify, encourage, and comfort others in faith.

Here are 3 prayers to give you peace of mind in Christ.

5) Give time to help others in need

One way to overcome pride is to do things that motivate us to serve others’ needs instead of just our own.

Helping those in need is a major part of living a life of faith, as the Bible calls us to do.

“Don’t withhold good from someone who deserves it, when it is in your power to do so.”

(Proverbs 3:27)

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

(Hebrews 13:16)

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

(Philippians 2:4)
Give to others

There are many activities we can take part in to keep us humble as we contribute to the betterment of others’ lives.

For example, we can volunteer at a nonprofit or charity organization in our area. This may involve working directly with people in need or helping out behind the scenes.

We can also help by donating used clothing, toys, and other items to thrift stores, children’s homes, and other centers. If we are blessed with sufficient funds, we can sponsor various projects that leave a positive impact on society.

Donating items to others

The options are plenty. But to be clear, we shouldn’t do these things simply for the sake of “feeling good about ourselves”. That is in itself a symptom of the pride of life.

Instead, we can focus on the pressing needs of others – and actively look to do something to help. Not to bring glory to ourselves, but to live as God’s light in the world (Matthew 5:14).

Such humility-in-action is a step to overcoming our pride of life as we play our small part for the community around us.

What did Jesus mean by “living water” (John 4:10)?

6) Persist in overcoming pride – but be patient too

As followers of Jesus Christ, we all hope to rid ourselves of pride instantly.

However, the reality is that letting go of our prideful thoughts and actions often takes time. We will stumble along the way.

But let us not be discouraged!

Instead, we should persist in our prayers and keep turning to God whenever we feel our conceited nature arise. Let us always seek forgiveness for our sins. Plus, we should put in the effort to stay connected with our fellowships and community.

Keeping up with these things means giving God daily space to work in our lives, as He turns our prideful tendencies into gentle humility over time.

Be persistent and patient

But be wary: The devil lies (John 8:44). He will cast doubt on our standing in Jesus Christ and will make us think we’ll never overcome our pride. Satan will try to make us feel like failures.

If such thoughts arise, we should quickly cast them away in prayer, choosing instead to focus on God (James 4:7). Rather than lose hope, we should be patient with our progress in overcoming pride, trusting that He is faithful in helping those who earnestly seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

What is the pride of life 9

Remember, our Father in heaven loves and knows us beyond anyone else (Romans 8:27). He empathizes with us and shows compassion to our struggles (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). This includes our wrestling with pride.

In short, we must not fall prey to the devil’s efforts to trap us in shame. Instead, let us be patient as we persist in our hope to overcome pride.

We should also remember: our goal isn’t to ‘perfectly’ overcome pride (since only Jesus is perfect). Instead, our desire to be less and less prideful is rooted in our daily joy to honor God and others in love.

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