Much is said about dealing with an inferiority complex but too little about the “superiority complex” of pride, which has taken an insidious turn and is causing societal ills. The only cure is to turn from pride to humility.
“Whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”
– Philippians 3:19
Many are oblivious to how much societies, particularly in the Western world, promote an attitude of being prideful.
Pastor John MacArthur recently said of pride: “Their glory is in their shame. They parade their shame … This whole culture does that. The Internet is just full of it.”
In a way, pride can be called a “superiority complex,” because it leads to an air of self-importance. This attitude is at the core of many problems in our society today.
In general, we live in a very competitive culture, focused on being better than the next person and seeking “it all” to have “bragging rights.” We see showboating athletes in sports. Music artists write songs boasting about their fame, fortune, material possessions, skills, and more.
Imagery on social media is littered with pridefulness. Many personal pages stand as monuments to “living the life.” Social media is rampant with “lifestyle influencers” who try to encourage others to mimic them, aiming to steer others toward materialistic goals because they are sponsored by corporations who want consumers to buy the goods these influencers flaunt.
“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
– Proverbs 29:23
There are more insidious types of pride, where people divide themselves along demographic lines: sexism, racism, ageism, nationalism, and more. Such attitudes have never fared well in times past, leading to war or violence, and it’s raising its ugly head once again at present.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
– Proverbs 16: 18
Ironically, one of the best arguments against the danger of pride comes from the late comedian George Carlin, who constantly railed against religion. However, he recognized the danger of pride and even quoted Proverbs as being correct in its assessment of pride.
“Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or obtain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth,” Carlin said. “Being Irish isn’t a skill … it’s a [bleep] genetic accident. You wouldn’t say I’m proud to be 5’11” … I’m proud to have a pre-disposition for colon cancer.”
“So why the [bleep] would you be proud to be Irish?” Carlin asks. “Or proud to be Italian or American or anything?”
Carlin rightly points out that we do not choose our parents, ethnicity, or nation of birth. We don’t choose to be born. So why are we proud of our race? Why do we have pride in our nationality? We had nothing to do with any of it.
“But hey, if you’re happy with it, that’s fine,” Carlin says. “Do that. Put that on your car: ‘Happy to be an American.’ Be happy; don’t be proud…’Pride goeth before a fall.’ Never forget Proverbs, OK?”
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
– Matthew 23:12
Throughout the Bible, an attitude of humility is encouraged. Jesus taught that we should be humble and serve others, not be braggarts who want to be superior to others, first at everything.
Jesus said, God will humble the prideful.
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
– Matthew 19: 30